Graduating from college and applying for your first job is generally a stressful milestone, but as the pandemic lingers on and work environments shift, it adds an unprecedented challenge that recent college graduates now must maneuver. Meeting coworkers virtually and learning the ins and outs of the industry from an at-home desk instead of a bustling agency setting are only a couple of the obstacles that newcomers must learn to navigate. Over the last year with a global pandemic and a reemerging social justice movement, coming into the health care space as a young professional looks a “little” different.

As recent college grads, we got to experience these changes firsthand. Bethany graduated in May 2020 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with her last semester unexpectedly cut short. She graduated in her living room, not from the historic Camp Randall Stadium she was looking forward to for four years. Rosa experienced more than a full academic year of online classes and lead the University of Minnesota’s PRSSA chapter meetings 100% virtually. When sharing industry insights with new, young members, she could mainly speak to one industry experience – one without masks and Zoom meetings.

Despite the added challenges of the past year, we feel privileged to have entered one of the fastest growing and constantly evolving industries. As we’re still new professionals learning the ropes of the health care industry, we were curious to find out what our health team members had to say about the health care space and the impact that this last year has had on our roles as health care PR professionals.

A few members shared some key takeaways from the health care industry, as well as some tips and advice for new health care PR professionals.

Key Takeaways from the Health Care Industry:

  • Jack Satzinger, Senior Account Executive: In PR, things always move quickly. However, there has been an added layer of urgency during the pandemic for health care PR professionals. Guidance from government agencies, vaccination rates, mask mandates, and more continue to evolve at a rapid pace which impacts strategy for many of our clients. It’s critical to be nimble.
  • Nate Gilbraith, Senior Account Executive: The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of health care and science. Suddenly the industry was in the spotlight and media became oversaturated with health news. Many of our health clients emerged as heroes, but the challenge was finding a way to make sure their stories didn’t go unnoticed. As PR continues to evolve, we as communication professionals need to find innovative and new ways to tell their stories. Today our clients come to us for much more than just earned media placements and it’s our job to determine the best way to tell their story across paid, earned, shared and owned channels.
  • Hannah Sabroski, Account Executive: Health care organizations are in the hot seat right now because of the pandemic. Telehealth, remote technologies, diagnostics, vaccines… these are all big topics in the media and people are more interested than ever before. So as PR professionals, it is our job to discern the chatter that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and find the nuggets of gold we can capitalize on. Health care communications is only going to get bigger with the continued evolution of tech and digital, so keep yourself smart and always be prepared to speak to these trends and how they might apply to your clients’ goals.

Top Tips for New PR Professionals in Health Care:

  • Jack Satzinger, Senior Account Executive: PR professionals new to health care can learn about the industry in several ways. First, I’d encourage subscribing to newsletters for health care trade publications and actively reading the health sections of several consumer media outlets on a daily basis. Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The technical aspects of the health care industry can seem daunting at first but are much easier to understand if you engage with team members and ask them to explain concepts you might not understand.
  • Nate Gilbraith, Senior Account Executive: The best way to familiarize yourself with health care is to completely immerse yourself in the industry. Become obsessed with data and science reports, pay attention to the health care discourse happening within our government, and always find the human-interest story that tugs at heart strings. Health care is a complex and ever-changing field, it’s essential to remain curious and continuously learn. Never aim to be the smartest person in the room and remember you can learn something from everyone.
  • Hannah Sabroski, Account Executive: Health care PR is a unique arm of strategic communications that takes a long time to master and understand, so my biggest piece of advice is to have patience with yourself! Slow down, focus on the area of health care you are working in, and lean on the experts around you. Between all the various sectors – pharma, medical device, payer, provider, non-profit (the list goes on) – it can seem like an overwhelmingly big industry… so just pick one, get comfortable with it, and watch the puzzle pieces come together. And have good coffee on hand, too. 

Co-authored by Bethany Henneman

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