As a healthcare-specific digital agency, we’ve worked with healthcare, medical and pharma comms partners for many years. More often than not, a common thread has run through these campaigns in that agencies feel they only have two options; create risky content and face legal issues or make duller, more compliant content.

So, where is the sweet spot? This article looks at a few ways, with the right outlook, your team can be more creative in what is a highly regulated industry.

Rules aren’t always negative.

It’s worth mentioning that not all employees naturally embrace constraints, whether they’re imposed by a client or the industry itself. In turn, motivation can be hampered when a creative task is too constrained by regulations. 

However, it’s important not to think of constraints as an entirely negative issue. They provide an opportunity for creative or account teams to invest in developing better, more innovative ideas. They provide focus and a creative challenge that can motivate people to try new angles, processes or technologies. So, it might just need the right leadership abilities or influence to put a positive spin on these constraints.

Know the difference between responsible and boring.

Regulations define what can and can’t be said or shown. However, these hardly ever define style or tone. So what you communicate is fixed, but you can still surprise and delight with how you communicate.

Don’t overcorrect.

Regulations set their own limitations. So adding your own ‘buffer zone’ is rarely necessary. For example, if you avoid referencing emotional themes in your HTA submission, that’s appropriate. But you don’t have to avoid them in your unbranded disease awareness campaign.

Challenge your team with creative constraints.

At GIG, we provide each team member with a set number of monthly hours to work on innovative projects. As well as the precise time constraints, team members are welcome to add further project restrictions. These could range from the type of technology used, adhering to a specific awareness day and its brand language, through to setting a particular target demographic or audience.

Big giants such as Google illustrate success in this approach by providing 20% of employee time allocated to the principle of ‘creativity loves constraints’. With open communication, collaboration, supportive leadership and supervision, this can help to drive creative innovation and allow team members to experience producing creative content under imposed restrictions and constraints. 

Know what’s out there.

Using examples from the public domain is an excellent way of allowing clients or team members to see what other pharma, healthcare or creative teams are doing. In addition, these inspirational finds can reassure clients regarding what is possible and feasible, as well as what creative boundaries can be pushed whilst adhering to all regulations.

Creative collaboration is a journey.

Industry clients may not always at first be receptive to creative concepts that totally change the look and feel of things they are used to seeing. However, they are more often willing to move away from the established “norm”, project by project, in an incremental manner.

Eventually, as they become more used to challenging their brand and using its rules as building blocks, it can be possible for you to provide a broader scope of creative offerings. 

Maybe it’s adding a new graphical element to an internal campaign, or a new photographic treatment for their stock imagery. What is considered ‘safe’ work for them in a few months might be the ‘riskier’ work right now.

Get a fresh set of eyes.

If you’re struggling to find your creative inspiration or are stuck with a specific regulation stemming your flow, we’re on hand to help. 

The Good Ideas Group comes with healthcare smarts pre-installed, meaning we know what will and won’t fly in the highly regulated world of healthcare communications. So give us a call for a no-obligation chat about your current or future project.

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+44 (0) 20 3343 2800

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