The healthcare industry is one of the most important in today’s world. Technology has risen up to the next level. Before the digital era, the connection between the healthcare industry and consumers was limited to geographical limits, now it has become more geographically vast and is growing fast.
The digital era has given access to people to get information and be connected to any healthcare organization around the globe. So, the importance of staying connected to the consumers and creating a good image among them became more valuable. Where the health problems are rising day by day, healthcare organizations are more focused on the work 24×7, so the PR agencies assist these organizations to communicate with their clients.
Woedend! Creative Agency is one such company that is bridging the communication gap between healthcare organizations and people. The company has worked in the industry for over two decades now and specializes in storytelling, communication, branding, PR, email marketing, and much more.
The Strategy Director and Partner, Paul Woltering, is one of the key persons in this creative agency and the experience that he possesses is helping Woedend to achieve new heights. He also happens to be one of the members of the APG NL (Account Planning Group Netherland) board.
In the following interview, Paul Woltering elaborates more upon the organizations role in the PR space.
Please brief our audience about your agency, its values, and the aspects that make it a leading player in the healthcare PR space.
Woedend! Creative Agency began in 2000 as a digital agency. We strongly believed digital would transform society and the way brands behave and people live their lives. But now, with the world ultra-connected and always on – with smart algorithms deciding who we are – it’s time to return to ‘first principles’: making real contact with consumers. That’s why over the years, Woedend! transformed into a full-service creative agency so we have ready access to whatever it takes to make this contact.
We support brands wanting to build a strong relationship with their customers. Our strength is the ability to find and express their true story in all touchpoints with customers and stakeholders – from a global branding campaign to the user experience of a printed instruction leaflet. It’s about finding the essence of a brand so you can more easily build a whole supportive marketing and communication ecosystem.
For Abbott, we created a 6-part video series ‘Checkpoint Len’, which shows Lennart biking from Amsterdam to China. This would be a challenge for anyone but more so for a person with type-1 diabetes. However, by using the FreeStyle Libre sensor to monitor his glucose levels, Len becomes living proof of Abbott’s brand promise: “Life to the fullest”.
Brief us about how you have set yourself apart from the competition through your expertise in healthcare PR and communication?
The patient journey is different for everyone. People have different demographics, interests and needs. That’s why we developed ‘Modular Storytelling’ to maximize interaction while keeping a brand’s DNA consistent. The brand story has dynamic modules that can adapt to different audiences, their client histories, the type of device(s) they are using, and the editorial context it appears in. In this way, we can create personal and engaging stories for real people.
For instance, to elevate awareness for the infectious STD ‘hepatitis B’, Woedend! made intimate video portraits of three very different gay men. We showed that while lifestyle may vary, full vaccination against hepatitis B is important for all gay men.
What other services does your agency offer, and how are you making an impact in the global healthcare industry?
The healthcare industry also involves a dizzying array of stakeholders: scientists, business people, caregivers (both as individuals and large organizations), regulators, legal and administrations experts, etcetera…
So how do you explain what your company or brand does in this vortex of complexity? How do you tell your story in a simple, straightforward and engaging way? This is where creativity comes in: to translate your story with the right content, tone and visual language so it fits and reflects your brand in every possible situation and for all contact moments in the patient/customer journey.
By offering an integrated 360-degree approach, Woedend! can reach all involved audiences and stakeholders – including your employees and, ultimately, the patients.
For instance, to strengthen and promote the Amsterdam region as the leading Life Sciences & Health innovation hub in Europe, it all started with creating just one short video. In the end, we had created a whole online platform Smart Health Amsterdam, complete with brand strategy, brand identity, and a practical communications toolbox, where all the stakeholders could come together to seek inspiration and collaboration under a shared goal of putting people first in health and healthcare.
Please brief us about the featuring person’s journey in the PR space and how they have made an impact on the agency through their role.
Paul Woltering is Partner and Strategy Director at Woedend! Creative Agency. The younger Paul was always interested in how people behaved and what influenced their decisions. For instance, why did they buy mashed fruit in a small plastic bottle for two euros, when they could buy a nice crisp apple in the same store for forty cents?
Paul studied Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. His career began at Ogilvy (and later at BBDO) under the wings of his mentor Professor Cor Molenaar, who specialized in the development of CRM and e-commerce strategy. After eight years of work experience, Paul became strategy director at Woedend! Creative Agency in 2004, and a partner in 2006. In 2007, Woedend! started to work with their first healthcare client Pfizer. Other healthcare clients soon followed, including Medtronic, NHG (the Netherlands’ society of house doctors), Soa Aids Nederland, Smart Health Amsterdam, AI Technology for People, Aidsfonds, Diabeter, Sense, Zilveren Kruis, and Abbott.
Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies and platforms within PR and communications has transformed the industry and what more could be expected in the near future?
The world is becoming more and more transparent. The world of PR and communication is making a shift from advertising to real and authentic storytelling – with honest stories that
show the added value of a company and its employees, services and products. People now expect that companies and brands take responsibility and play an active and positive role in society. And people choose the brand that fits their needs, lifestyle and the hopes they have for their children’s future.
Meanwhile… By making use of all the data we leave behind in both the real and digital worlds, brands can predict our behaviour more precisely than we can ourselves. This is scary. But at the same time, we’ve gotten used to it. We expect a personal approach with relevant content that fits our personal situation. That’s why a shift is taking place in PR and communication: from mass marketing to mass customization – and in some cases to fully personal communication.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the healthcare PR sector?
It takes a lot of time and money to bring medical innovation to market. A lot. So, you must be passionate yet patient – and ready to juggle a whole range of stakeholders who are all following their timelines. You also need to stay on top of a constantly evolving world.
For instance, the latest research shows that 66% of consumers prefer to interact with brands online. So be ready for the metaverse (whether it’s VR, AR, XR and/or MR). One inspiring example is EndeavorRx, a video-game-as-treatment for kids with ADHD to improve attention function.
Also, in Dutch we have a saying: “to prevent is more efficient than to cure”. And the shift to prevention is a rapidly evolving domain within the healthcare sector, especially after COVID-19. Get on board.
Last but not least… Look at everything from the perspective of the client/end consumer/patient. And remember: patients hate to be called patients.
Where do you envision your agency to be in the long run and what are your goals for 2022 and beyond?
We believe that we can create a better world in the health sector by making real contact and that’s also how we prefer to work with our clients and healthcare professionals. For 2022, we hope to do that again literally in real-time and in real rooms. In this way, we can collaborate more closely in an agile way – making short sprints, evaluating the results, improving and then repeating the process. Step by step, we can work together for a better and healthier future.
This approach also hinges on a larger communication vision: bringing together all the different parties required to spur positive change in such a complex industry as healthcare. By having everyone on the same page, speaking the same language and sharing the same stories, we can further accelerate innovation. Collaboration and working closely together with all different external specialists and stakeholders are the key to success.
- “The Pharmaceutical / MedTech world imposes the necessary restrictions and law regulations. And each time I am surprised by the diversity of concepts and content the Woedend! team comes up with. We’ve worked with them for almost two years now, and it’s a great pleasure.” – John Kooijman, Marketing & CRM Manager Benelux, Abbott Diabetes Care
- “With the Amsterdam Economic Board, we were looking for an agency to help us translate a complex message of how to leverage digital care solutions to work for health in a brief movie clip. We had no idea where to start – but there was Woedend! They took us under their professional wings, guided the whole process, were very keen to know exactly what we wanted to bring across and in which form, and started creating a movie that was more impactful and effective in getting our message across – and more beautiful! – than we had anticipated.”
“Naturally, we came back to Woedend! with a branding request for Smart Health Amsterdam. There we had the same great experience. Well-thought-out proposals, repeatedly finetuned to result in a beautiful logo and brand identity – with the bonus that Woedend! got all involved stakeholders aligned on brand identity and messaging. On top of that, they are just great people to be with.” – Jeroen Maas, Lead Health for Smart Health Amsterdam/Amsterdam Economic Board (now with Philips)