Roundtable with healthcare PR experts

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a steep learning curb for many people working in communications, but few would have been better placed to respond effectively than those working in Healthcare PR. Telum caught up with two communicators who have been leading healthcare campaigns for decades to chat about communications during these unique terms. 
  • Martin Palin, Managing Director of Palin Communications
  • Anne-Marie Sparrow, Managing Director of Cube Public Relations
Key insights from the discussion included:
  • The current government communications campaign has been very tactical and logical but is missing emotion and figurative messages that can cut through.
  • Now is the time to manage expectations around earned media and push other channels of communications.
  • It’s important to continue to raise awareness about non COVID-19 related illnesses if Australia is to come out of this without a serious “health hangover”.
  • We needed greater focus on social media during the early stages of the campaign, especially to influence the behaviours of younger Australians.
Martin Palin has been at the helm of Palin Communications for more than 20 years. His experience puts him in a good position to put forward a communications plan around a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The pre-launch phase will be one of managing expectations around a suitable vaccine, about the challenges associated with distribution, use, and side effects.

“It will be important to try and get as many of the health groups and opinion leaders in the public health space, in the vaccine space, to have consistency and alignment about what they are saying when it comes to the way the vaccine will be introduced and launched, and what it will and won’t be able to achieve,” Martin said.

Anne-Marie Sparrow has been working in healthcare public relations for almost three decades, including as Managing Director, Healthcare Asia Pacific at Burson-Marsteller, before founding Cube Public Relations in 2004. Anne-Marie expresses the importance of continuing to raise awareness about other health issues if Australia is to come out of COVID-19 in reasonable shape.

“From the general health perspective, it’s important for the health of the community to come out of COVID-19 well. To not have a health hangover is also a big interest story for the media.

“We’re doing some work with advocacy groups, with patient groups, people who are not being treated for COVID-19, but have diabetes and heart disease, with the goal that we can come out of this in a fit state and the nation can recover,” Anne-Marie said.

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