If research and data form the brain of your company, the narrative is its heart.

Your narrative helps to bring your broader purpose to life. It goes above brand, to the true mission of your organization – the science you’re striving to advance, the medical community you’re aiming to serve and the patients you are working to support. It’s the sum of all unmet needs and challenges you are focused on overcoming.

Evolving your narrative and understanding how it must translate to appeal to your target audiences is a critical step toward more authentic and effective engagement with all stakeholders – both internal and external.

As the health care landscape continues to evolve – from legislation, access, reimbursement, systems and beyond – defining a narrative that not only conveys your organization’s core focus but also resonates with your target audiences is increasingly important. And without this, all engagement efforts (whether via communications, marketing, medical affairs and so on) ring hollow. With public perception of the pharma industry at a tenuous time, along with the shifting interdependencies between health industry sectors – stepping back to evaluate your current narrative or creating anew is critical.

Additionally, by creating a clear narrative that gets to the core of your company and product(s), you create evangelists within your employees. When they’re armed with the facts, data and the why, they’re not just employees, but rather, they become experts that will continue to drive innovation within your walls, as well as more effective ambassadors both with colleagues and others on the outside.

Instead of allowing assumptions to define your brand, developing a narrative can put you back in the driver’s seat of your company’s reputation. If you don’t have (and share) a clear sense of your pharma company’s why, others will inevitably create it for you.Click To Tweet

Developing your narrative

As with most things, creating your narrative starts with research. Conduct a landscape audit to answer key questions, including:

  • What are the unmet needs in the industry?
  • What problems are plaguing your audience(s)?
  • What do the key stakeholders (physicians, patients and/or investors) want to hear?
  • What motivates stakeholders? What challenges do they face?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current solutions on the market?
  • What perceptions about the industry currently exist?

After you get a lay of the land, it’s time for a little soul searching. Gather the key players in your organization and hold a brainstorm to uncover the story behind your brands and your pipeline. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How does your company contribute meaningfully to people’s lives?
  • How is your pharma brand addressing your audiences’ concerns?
  • How is your brand truly making health care better for your audience?
  • Why are you in business? What drives you?

Your research combined with these answers are the pillars of your narrative. At this point, your story should begin to take shape – but you’re not done yet.

You’ve researched, brainstormed, found your way and crafted your story. Now what?

More research, of course.

Put your narrative to the test and run it by a focus group. Does it strike a chord? Does it feel authentic? Does it speak their language? (Remember, jargon is nobody’s friend.)

Keep the heart beating

Keep in mind, “one and done” is never a motto for success. Your narrative isn’t static. Like the health care industry itself and the patients, health care providers and scientists you care about, it’s always changing. You should constantly evaluate it, making sure it still aligns with your audience and your mission.

Above all, your narrative should be at the heart of your company’s strategies. Every touchpoint you have with your audience – whether patient advocacy groups, physicians, media, stakeholders or others – should be firmly rooted in your “why.”

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