Telum Talks To... Priyanka Bajpai, Regional Head, SPAG

Telum Talks To... Priyanka Bajpai, Regional Head, SPAG

With health communications getting more spotlight recently, Priyanka Bajpai spoke to Telum about the SPAG's expansion, common misconceptions of health communications and its change in demand under COVID-19.

What inspired the decision for SPAG to expand and why now?    
During this difficult time, the health communications sector has become all the more vital in helping organisations get through the damaging effects of the outbreak, and retaining trust amongst their employees, consumers and industry partners.

This expansion is in response to the burgeoning demand for integrated communications support from various health, nutrition, pharma and life sciences clients in the region. We feel that with our specialist approach and increased foothold in newer markets, we can play a pivotal role in crafting communication for organisations in the region and support enterprises in their PR and creative needs.

What made you choose Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines for the expansion and does SPAG have any plans to expand further in Southeast Asia or even perhaps other regions in the future?
ASEAN is a region with a growing medical and health industry, where middle-income earners are rising, increasing the demand for better health services. These four markets also have fast-growing economies, are bustling with innovation and receptive to the need for communications.

This expansion will help us cement our presence, fortify our influential network and build our in-depth knowledge of local markets in the region. We see immense potential in tapping into these opportunities and providing our communication solutions as a way to help health companies tackle growing issues in the region.

We aim to expand in the region to create a robust network and presence so that we are well-positioned to support our regional clients’ communication needs.

How is SPAG’s expansion currently faring and are there any challenges you’re expecting to encounter? What are you most excited about the expansion?
While there are challenges with every business decision, we have to remain agile and resilient so we can tackle them as they come. Though it is not an easy task, it is definitely a rewarding one and puts us a step forward in our growth as an organisation.

I’m excited to lead this expansion as I am already aware of the potential that these markets hold, also thanks to solid government initiatives respectively towards health. I am confident that it will serve as a catapult for our success and help to create a measurable impact for our health partners.

What are some key differences between health communications and communications in other disciplines and sectors?
Health communications is vastly different from communications in any other sector. Though the basic structure is similar, in that we reach similar business objectives and utilise similar channels, the way we talk about health is not the same as how we do it for other industries.

To begin with, health communications is people-centric and about people’s lives. This tags a personal and emotional element to our communications strategies, and we need to keep that in mind whenever we push out a campaign or talk about a brand / product.

Health communications is science-based. This means that our specialists need to understand, strategise and execute communications projects from a scientific lens, to make sure our content is factual, sound and credible. We work with experts in the health and medical field and constantly immerse ourselves with the right knowledge to ensure our content is accurate.

Good communication is vital. When it comes to the health industry, it needs to be stellar. As I say, nothing is comparable when it comes to dealing with lives. This fact in itself puts health comms way ahead of its peer industries.

From your perspective, how has COVID-19 affected the demand for health communications?
Reiterating the point from the first question, during this difficult time, the health communication sector’s role has become more important than ever in dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Our clients need communication support to help their organisations adapt to this new normal while continuing to drive impact, spearhead conversations and influence perceptions.

It is important for organisations to build trust amongst their employees and with their industry partners, and it’s even more pertinent during a time of crisis. Organisations now realise that they need to communicate effectively and transparently in order to retain trust with their key stakeholders for a sustainable and bright future.

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