When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, healthcare PR pros around the U.S. kicked into crisis mode. Almost a year and 400,000 U.S. deaths later, the job is still hard, but the rollout of effective vaccines shows there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Given all this, what is it like to be a healthcare PR pro today?
To answer that question, we sat down with Account Director Danielle Ruckert, one of our healthcare PR experts and a key member of our team. We chatted with her about what drew her previous experience, what drew her to PR and the challenges communicators in the healthcare industry face today. Read the full interview:
How does your previous work experience inform your work today and your career path?
Both at The Pew Charitable Trusts and METCOR, Ltd., a boutique consulting firm in DC whose leaders managed a US Coast Guard grant project, my roles focused on improving public health and safety. In both of these roles, I was inspired by the ability of communications campaigns to impact change and improve the world we live in. This same idea is what drew me to RH Strategic — the opportunity to work with organizations that are driving change and innovation within healthcare.
You’ve represented clients in a variety of industries, but your passion is healthcare PR. What drew you to this sector?
Everyone interacts with the healthcare system in one way or another, so everyone can relate to the challenges in the system. I love that my clients are tackling some of the most interesting issues in the industry — from cost of care to access to innovative solutions for niche problems. There’s no other work I’d rather do!
Healthcare communications have played a significant role in public health efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic. How have you and your team managed this critical responsibility?
Communication during COVID-19 has really been rooted in truth telling. One year into the pandemic, there is still much we don’t know about COVID-19. On top of that, we’ve seen mistrust of the healthcare system and vaccines, as well as confusion around vaccine distribution and where to go when you need help. Each of our clients has focused on helping their members, patients and constituents navigate this difficult time, and as communicators our team has focused on ensuring we’re sharing useful information in a clear and compelling way. It’s a big responsibility, but we’re up to the task.
Aside from COVID-19, what are the biggest communications challenges facing the healthcare industry today?
It’s going to be a busy, crowded marketplace in 2021. COVID-19 spotlighted a lot of the challenges and inefficiencies within our healthcare system, and that spurred a wave of innovation across the board. We are seeing startups introduce solutions for problems never before considered, leading thinkers bringing fresh approaches to systemic challenges, and an explosion of digital health platforms aimed at bettering the patient experience. I’m looking forward to helping clients develop creative ways to break through the noise and make a real impact with potentially life-saving solutions.
What healthcare innovations and developments are you most excited about in 2021?
While 2020 just brought challenge after challenge, 2021 feels like a year of rebuilding. I’m excited by the opportunities that rebuilding can bring. One of the lessons of 2020, in retrospect, was that so much can change in a really short period of time. We saw an estimated seven years’ worth of digital transformation in early 2020, and in the months ahead we can continue to build on that momentum and that ability to change as we collectively work to build a better system for all.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.