The Art of Explaining Complicated Science

EPISODE 18: The Art of Explaining Complicated Science | PODCAST

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Show Notes:

Today on Pivot Points, Tripp Underwood is joined by Sarah Santos, Cramer Associate Creative Director and Jill Petrie, Cramer Content Strategist. In this episode, Sarah and Jill break down the art behind explaining complicated science in the healthcare industry.  Between rules and regulations, patients and HCPs, there’s a lot to consider in the world of healthcare marketing. So how do you communicate effectively when there are so many to reach? We unpack the art of delivering messages that resonate with your target audiences. Tune in to see our approach.

Transcript:

Elise Orlowski:

I’m Elise Orlowski, a senior video director here at Cramer.

Tripp Underwood:

I’m Tripp Underwood, a creative director at Cramer.

Elise Orlowski:

At Cramer, we work with so many incredibly fascinating people from all over multiple industries.

Tripp Underwood:

We have so many great conversations, many that are just too good to keep to ourselves. Now, we’re sharing them with the world.

Elise Orlowski:

Right here from Cramer Studios.

Tripp Underwood:

This is Pivot Points.

Elise Orlowski:

Cut.

Tripp Underwood:

Hi. Welcome back to another episode of Pivot Points. My name is Tripp Underwood. I’m a creative director here at Cramer. Cramer works with a lot of companies across multiple industries, one of them being healthcare. We are a Boston based company after all, and that’s a big part of what happens in our backyard here. Today, we’re going to discuss working with those particular healthcare clients, because healthcare is different for what we do in terms of marketing than other industries. It touches everybody. Everyone experiences health at some point. Hopefully your experience with the healthcare industry is limited, but regardless, we all know what it’s like to be a patient. There’s a certain amount of responsibility there for us as marketers. You’re not selling shoes; you’re not selling trinkets. This is something really important and people’s lives can change because of it. It requires a certain amount of thoughtfulness and respect for the content that I think really transcends the industry.

Tripp Underwood:

We have a unique approach for that, and to discuss it, I am joined by Jill Petrie and Sarah Santos, two Cramer Creatives that specialize in healthcare,. Part of our Cramer healthcare team. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Jill Petrie:

Thanks, Tripp.

Sarah Santos:

Thank you.

Tripp Underwood:

Two people that I have had the pleasure of working with in the past, as a member of Cramer Healthcare. This is a little bit inside baseball. Speaking of which, let’s get down to it. We do have a unique approach that I think is very thoughtful. I’m particularly very proud of it. We’ve built it together as a team. I’d like to unpack it for the audience here. When it comes to healthcare marketing, what are some things that we do that Cramer does uniquely that helps set the stage and guides us through the length of a project?

Jill Petrie:

Right. Well, we really try first to understand the audience, where we’re meeting the audience. In the kind of marketing that we do sometimes our audience it may be patients, it may be parents of patients, it may be healthcare providers, or other professionals within the healthcare spectrum. From the very beginning, we want to understand who we’re speaking with. Who is that main audience? Is there an area where they need further education, because they’re overcoming a milestone? Maybe there’s a hurdle or an obstacle in their way, such as taking medication over the long-term and they’re hitting a certain side effect that they’re afraid of. Is there learning that’s going to help them better treat their patients down the road when we’re talking to clinicians?

Jill Petrie:

We really try to understand where our audience is at. Sometimes we do that through primary research, through focus groups, or one-on-one interviews, that kind of thing. Sarah knows I do a lot of secondary research, a lot of work in whether it’s reading publications and literature or it might be social listening is really important. What a great way to tap into the patient mindset that wasn’t available to us X number of years ago? I’m old, but it’s a really amazing way. Even just follow a hashtag and start to see what the conversation is building around a certain disease.

Tripp Underwood:

I worked in healthcare prior to coming to Cramer. It’s amazing how much more Healthcare literature … The fact that I read New England Medicine Journal often for someone that is really not that smart. It’s really fascinating. The wide range of audience is very challenging, but I think also very rewarding. The fact that you’re speaking to somebody at the education level of a doctor all the way down to someone that might be 18 years old and just taking care of their own healthcare for the first time in their lives and they’re really scared. It’s such a wild spread of audiences that as marketers, it keeps you on your toes, but I do think it’s interesting.

Sarah Santos:

I’ll just say to that point about the widespread audience that we reach out to, at the same time we’re also considering that people might all be absorbing this information on a cell phone, on a train to work, or school, or something like that. That people have a higher expectation for the kind of content they want to consume. Is it short form or is it something more in depth? We really have to be sensitive to the fact that everyone’s health literacy might not be at the same level, certainly their content consumption, and breaking that down and how they like to consume information and how they like to review that information is sophisticated. More sophisticated than it’s ever been, like yourself reading the medical journals.

Tripp Underwood:

Well, and also consumption style. In traditional marketing, we talk a lot about not everyone is a reader, not everyone watches videos, not everyone learns this way, how you learn that way. It’s an important conversation in all of our marketing, but I think in healthcare, I know this team has been much more studious about that. That idea of this is really important and we’re going to write it, because it’s very important. There are people who’s reading literacy or their comprehension isn’t that, so how can we visualize that? Can you talk a little bit about the process of trying to visualize important content to make sure we’re hitting all possible learning styles?

Sarah Santos:

Absolutely. Jill and I work very closely together most days, which is awesome, the great part of my job, and she is a queen of content and for me, it’s visuals. Really, we collaborate from the beginning going back and forth on that, because even when she’s at the early stages of scripting a video, for example, or outlining a piece of marketing material, I start getting in there, because really I need to be thinking about what is an approach that we can take this visually that’s going to help whomever that recipient is understand as best they can and often as quickly as they can. It helps when she’s starting that script or the bones of something that I can get in there and try to pitch some ideas to her for where we can take things creatively, because often we will guide one another in the process.

Jill Petrie:

You’re such a great partner, because sometimes I’m dealing with a lot of data, charts, graphs, and I’m trying to build a story and I can get very stuck in my head. I know how that story … I can outline it but it’s still too dense and Sarah is a great way to push through and bring that idea of, let’s just take it to this idea. Just helps that story flow gets rid of … I might carry in too much depth and she knows that line of “that’s too far.” Let’s bring it up a level visually, helps me to bring that storytelling up, as well.

Tripp Underwood:

I’m laughing because Jill and I are both writers. You and I suffer from the same thing of, “Oh no, this is a very important story. It has to be this long” and then you bring it to someone who is Sarah like, have you tried doing it this way? I could cut this entire paragraph with one image and I’m like, “oh, I didn’t know you were allowed to do that.”

Sarah Santos:

It’s awesome having the opportunity to work back and forth in this collaborative way, because often, as you know, we can’t cut a word or that sort of thing. Really, what we’re trying to do is layer information in the best way possible. Sometimes you’re hearing a voice over in a video, for example. You’re hearing a voice over and you’re seeing a chart or graph and the voiceover is not reading line-for-line for you. It’s pulling out those highlights. Of course, we’re also always trying to layer in something that, just like you would for any marketing, is grabbing attention, is keeping the user engaged, is delighting them, if that’s appropriate, but there’s a lot of things layered in there to get what we have to tell them, get what we want to tell them, how we want to show it to them altogether.

Jill Petrie:

In the end, it looks easy, but the work to get there … and we just did a very dense medical presentation for neurologists. We’re talking about breaking down complicated science. They already know the science of neurology, but we were doing it in immunology. We were presenting some COVID data to neurologists and just the layering of my first script was medical. It talked about SARS Covi-2. It talked about the BNT 1283….I can’t remember the name. The Pfizer beyond tech vaccine that so many people got during the COVID pandemic. Well, I’m using language like that and I had to say, wait, I don’t need to say SARS Covi-2; I can say COVID-19. These are neurologists who understand their craft. They have a ton of medical knowledge, but if I can provide a little break in that ear where they don’t have to do that translation of-

Sarah Santos:

What’s the Pfizer versus Moderna.

Jill Petrie:

Exactly. If I can give that little break and Sarah does that visually. If I can layer that kind of content visually, so that they don’t have to absorb everything every time and it’s pretty masterful. It’s the work of the layering. We know how to do it from what goes into a VO, what goes on screen, what goes into a footnote. She does that from a visual perspective and it looks effortless. It is not.

Tripp Underwood:

To your point, medical professionals are people too. They’re vaulted in our society, as they should be. They’re incredibly intelligent people, but at the end of the day, every person, regardless of your academic or educational background, likes clear, consistent, understandable communication. Now at times, how clear you can get is difficult due to regulatory, or there are certain things that just need to be phrased a certain way. We dance with that, but I do think one of the areas in this industry that is lacking is people forget that medical professionals are people and that some of the rules of good marketing apply to them, as well. You just need to dress it up in a certain way and I think that’s nice.

Tripp Underwood:

Speaking of regulatory, as somebody that has review processes for all the marketing I do, none are more dreaded than the healthcare or pharmaceutical review board. You have doctors, you have lawyers, you have lawyers that are also doctors. You have grammaticians, I find often. Talk to me a little bit about what goes into a review process for a healthcare client and how you approach that as two people that have worked in this field for a while. What are you thinking as you make and then how are you pivoting as you’re getting feedback from those boards?

Jill Petrie:

Right. Talk about being in your own head. You must feel like this, too. Every word that I write I scrutinize, for I scrutinize it. Is it medically accurate? Is it going to cause any legal issues that I can foresee? I can’t always know. Then is it within the bounds of the regulatory environment that we’re playing in? I scrutinize everything.

Tripp Underwood:

Then when you’re done, does it read well? You check all those boxes. It might be, oh this is great. If you’re a robot, this is perfect.

Jill Petrie:

Exactly. I feel again, having a really good, solid creative partner helps with that. It’s all there, now let’s punch it up here or maybe the give back happens more in a design and creative layer than it can in the content. You don’t always have room to play in the content, but you might have places that you can help it be more readable, more interesting, or just visually a little bit of a break.

Sarah Santos:

Because Jill and I are such good friends, Jill, can we say this instead of this? Often if we can and it is better or makes sense in any kind of way at all she says sure, or actually, I see what your problem is here. Let’s rewrite it to this. Then there’re just times where we have to write that, we have to say that, we have to include all that information. Okay, then we deal with that.

Tripp Underwood:

Right. Rules are rules.

Sarah Santos:

We have great respect for everybody that has their hand on our pamphlet or is watching a video or is reading our websites and we don’t want to make them do any extra work than they need to do in their lives.

Sarah Santos:

Be it a patient or a HCP or anyone in between. We want to give it to them as, as best we can, but it does help that we’re always reading things out loud. We’re always going back and forth with one another and Jill keeps it very honest and is very strict about things, but we push it. I will say about that regulatory process we have a very, very good track record. We’re kind of the A+ students of getting things passed and we do not want to raise flags, but there have been times actually recently where we go, listen, this is a tough thing to explain. The client is actually still struggling with how to get this story out there, how to get this across, let’s push the envelope where we might raise some flags.

Sarah Santos:

It might be this difficult bumpy road, which again, we like to get the gold star and sail through these process as quickly as possible. Sometimes it does take once or twice going through to really get it down. We’re really helping our … I think that’s when we’re bringing the most value, is when we’re really pushing the envelope, because it’s not easy to communicate everything you need to say. If you go online, this is a quick aside, try to read instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for example. You can get completely lost in the weeds on that, because if you’re reading 20 step directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly, you will probably possibly do it quite wrong. There is a thing about we need to give them all the information, but how?

Tripp Underwood:

I like that.

Jill Petrie:

I think that definitely, we also will partner with … we’ve great respect for our audience. We have great respect for the regulatory and medical bodies that are doing the work, and we really try to listen to the feedback that they give. The other part, and I know you as a writer, very little is not intentional on our part. We generally can say why we made the decision we made. Might not at the end of the day, be the right one, but at least if we have that opportunity to say, this is why we did it, this is the bigger context, sometimes we can get a little bit of that leeway that we’re looking for.

Tripp Underwood:

I think what you two do well, is that because you know the rules so well, you can find those ways that you can push it up a little bit and try to … not even push the envelope. Sounds like you’re trying to be provocative. I don’t think that’s the case. Some of the work I’ve seen you do, it has more of a lifestyle feel while still getting the information across. This seem a place where we can actually have a little fun with this. What might that look like through this lens? I think just understanding that review process allows you to elevate and stand out the content you’re doing from the others that are so similar.

Sarah Santos:

Thank you.

Jill Petrie:

I think so. I think when we’re speaking to patients who live with a chronic disease fun is just, is that the right word? We sometimes say, could we be playful? Could we delight them? That’s what we say. Can we delight them? Can we just give them a little something that takes a little bit of the heaviness away or delivers the content in a different way? I think that’s another thing.

Tripp Underwood:

I think that’s what I love about some of the work that we do here at Cramer is that we, again, both be it a healthcare professional or a patient, think of them as people first and then whatever labels we’re assigning to them as their marketing persona secondary. How can we use that to create better marketing?

Jill Petrie:

Right. The one other thing that is such an advantage to Cramer, too, is that Sarah’s a creative generalist. You and I are generalists in the content standpoint, I have a strong experience. You do too in healthcare, but sometimes we can go to masters of their craft here. If we’re doing a video and we think it’s going to be some way, we can go to the video team that are masters of their craft, and they’re going to rethink it in a way that we didn’t even know was possible or animation. Also, having that opportunity to sit with experts here and talk through our ideas and come back with something totally different, we have definitely done that on the video side, for sure. Like, reimagine things and they’re so much better because of it. It’s really helpful to be able to have that audience here at Cramer, the teams here at Cramer, to go to and hear pitches, get ideas. It keeps it fresh. That whole idea of things not looking so-

Tripp Underwood:

Outside thinking?

Jill Petrie:

Right.

Sarah Santos:

Yeah, absolutely. We look outside of healthcare and bring it in, in the appropriate way. That is at Cramer, very easy to do.

Tripp Underwood:

Wealth of talent here, different ideas and a lot of people that care about what they’re doing. I think it makes it very easy. Well, thank you so much, guys. This has been an excellent conversation. It’s fun to dish. I know we haven’t worked together in a while, but I think we will be again.

Sarah Santos:

We do.

Tripp Underwood:

We have some more healthcare clients that we’re excited about. Thank you so much for everyone listening and watching. This has been another episode of Pivot Points.

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