Telum Vox Pop: World Health Day (Part 2)

Telum Vox Pop: World Health Day (Part 2)

As technology advances, a disparity can be observed between the way older and younger generations consume media. In conjunction with World Health Day (7th April), Telum spoke with health PR professionals about the generational changes in communications within the healthcare sector.

For the second in our two-part series, we explore ways of measuring the impact of health communications campaigns, and look ahead at upcoming trends that could potentially shape the future of health communications.

How do you measure the impact and effectiveness of health communication efforts across different age groups?

Gillian Fish, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The 6AM Agency

Measurement of impact and effectiveness should be benchmarked against business objectives. Depending on the audience, these could include:
  • Sales data, regardless of the generation - is there year on year growth against set sales goals?
  • Behaviour change. For example, increased cancer screening rates for a diagnostics brand.
  • Social media or digital analytics to measure digital literacy and engagement in health quizzes or content online.
  • Reach of health messaging through earned media demonstrates an increase in awareness (traditional media for Boomers, online and subscription based for Gen Y and younger).
  • Increased interest from expert KOLs and influencers, indicating awareness, reputation and credibility of your brand.

Emma Hussey, Head of Health, WE Communications
It is important to create bespoke measurement frameworks for each health communications campaign, which looks at the impact we are aiming to achieve for unique audiences across generations.

Measurement goes beyond coverage, engagement, reach or views - we look at particular behaviour change drivers linked to the campaign, for example, conversations being had with healthcare professionals, educational resources downloaded, pledges signed, strategies implemented by the government etcetera. We adopt a test and learn approach, where we consult our audience with surveys or experience interviews and assess the impact of our communications along the way and adapt where needed to get the best impact results.

Karina Durham, Chief Executive Officer, Palin Communications
Measuring impact is all about action and how far and wide you can share important health messages. The signs of effective health communications - regardless of age groups - is seeing how people actively engage and speak to their healthcare professionals, how they share information with one another, evidence of people becoming advocates for a cause that will lead to positive change, and increased vigilance about their own health. It is also getting the sense that you have left no stone unturned in your communications approach, so everyone has the opportunity to see health messages in a range of ways.

Paul Jans, Managing Director and Owner, VIVA! Communications
We monitor our audience metrics after a media launch. A good example of a cross generation campaign is the 2023 Hologic Heavy Menstrual Bleeding awareness campaign which bolstered awareness and helped women from the older Zoomers all the way up to Gen X.

It is imperative to understand how these tools can be galvanised to gain granular insights into how effective your campaign is received by all the generational subsets.

Looking ahead, what trends do you foresee shaping the future of health communications in terms of reaching and engaging diverse generations / varying age groups?

Emma Hussey
It is no surprise to say that AI and AI-generated content will shape the future of health communications. However, it is important to acknowledge that AI cannot replace medical advice and must be navigated carefully when healthcare messaging is involved. It is vital to balance broad-based AI generated messaging with more nuanced and personalised messaging driven by healthcare professionals themselves, especially in more complex and rare disease areas.

AI can allow us as healthcare communications professionals to more efficiently edit images and text, project manage our communications campaigns, and better understand our audiences. However, we need to consider different generation’s trust and comfortability with AI generated content. For example, a report from Hootsuite states that Gen Z are more likely to claim they know what’s real and what’s created by AI than other generations, and are more likely to trust and engage with AI content. Whereas baby boomers are less confident in their ability to tell if something is created by AI, and less likely to trust and engage with it if it is.

In healthcare communications, we have an ethical responsibility to accurately and authentically represent patient and healthcare professionals' experiences. Therefore, it is important that as we experiment with the use of AI, we must withhold the trust of our audiences across generations by choosing carefully when AI is used. We must never compromise the authenticity, accuracy and compliance of sharing patient and healthcare professional stories and opinions.

Paul Jans
The continuum of technology trends, such as virtual care, remote monitoring, AI, big data analytics, blockchain, smart wearables and tools enabling data capture and exchange across the health ecosystem, will continue to shape the future of health communications, and to reach and engage with all generations.

Personalised communication, the curation and dissemination of social media content, and the promotion of health equity will enable us to shape the future of health communications to reach and engage across all generations. Personalised communication will be tailored to the specific needs of certain demographics. Social media platforms will continue to play a central role in health communications, particularly in reaching younger generations. Through social media content, we can continue to amplify messages and foster positive health behaviours among followers.

The promotion of health equity addresses health disparity affected by all forms of marginalised communities, stakeholders, and demographics. By embracing these trends and adopting innovative approaches, health communication practitioners will continue the bridge building across the generational divide.

Gillian Fish
My view is that in a world that is increasingly disrupted and challenging, there will continue to be a move towards the traditions of ancient cultures - from South East Asia, Japan, Europe, Africa and India, all with a deep sense of purpose, connection and values. This will define the messaging and approach we use in health communications, in order to have meaning and therefore impact.

In South East Asia for example, both Millennials and Gen Zs tend to prioritise family relationships and maintaining cultural traditions, potentially prioritise community harmony and collaboration, and prioritise showing respect and deference to older family members and authority figures. Whereas in China, healthcare communications will do well to take educational pressure, the lack of work-life balance, and digital disconnect into account when targeting younger audiences.

This is a snapshot of what matters to audiences, and rich territory for healthcare brands to use to inform their tone and approach to brand messaging, as well as channels to effectively reach audiences.

Karina Durham
It is important to recognise individuals, personal preferences and interests, and not lose sight of these factors when figuring out how to best communicate with communities. By boxing people into specific ways of communication due to their generational groups, we risk missing all the opportunities to engage with people that leverage their individual interests and preferences.

One way that will continue to be important to help with this is sharing health messages via credible and trusted people. This doesn't just relate to celebrities and social media influencers, but leveraging credible healthcare professionals and experts that people know and trust from grassroots level and up. These sources are perfectly placed to support effective health communications and breakdown complex messages, so people understand the broader picture, the personal relevance of the message and encourage action where needed.

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