A fresh perspective on data comms 

News Next

Data Comms sits at the core of our industry, so it’s time to inspire more communicators about the dynamic role it plays in healthcare communications

By Lizzie Wright, Executive Director and Laura Strain, Executive Vice President.

Data sits at the heart of our work in pharmaceutical communications, flowing into and influencing everything that we do on a daily basis. It is critical that to run a successful campaign, we understand the science and can effectively interpret the data so that it resonates with the different audiences we work with.  

Yet data communications itself – the communication of scientific data from clinical trials and real-world studies – seems to have a bit of a bad rep. We ran a small survey of pharma PR pros1 at mixed levels and experience and found words such as “dry”, “formulaic” and “difficult” came to mind, with most people identifying data comms only as writing a press release and a Q&A for clinical trial data. 40% stated they were not confident in data comms and 11% stated they would avoid it at all costs!  

Part of the reason why we see such a variety of perspectives on data comms is that we cannot communicate about a lot of the work we do because of strict regulations and confidentiality. Therefore, it’s hard to show the power of the specialism and break down the barriers and perceptions of data communications.  

In communicating data, we get to be at the heart of change – changing treatment decisions, changing the result for patients to changing stock prices. Granted, we are a small part of this change, but we are part of it.  

Communicating data goes way beyond creating press releases and Q&As. Truly understanding the data allows us to propose more robust communication programmes to our clients. The science impacts high-level strategic scenario planning workshops all the way through to attending congresses and how we speak with media.  

In understanding the power of data and learning to critically assess it, pharma comms pros can contribute to high-level strategic discussions with senior clients and attend scientific meetings around the world to witness first-hand the impact and response to some of the most ground-breaking medical and scientific research being conducted across the world today. 

While behaviour change or disease awareness campaigns tend to inspire more communicators in healthcare, if you have a passion for the science and research it could be that you need to rethink how you perceive data comms.  

We’ve been working in data comms for over 10 years each and have been to congresses all around the world, from Orlando to Amsterdam and New Orleans to Paris. Data comms is truly at the centre of cutting-edge science and innovation, helping scientists communicate their success and continue the great progress they’re making, and after all, that enables all the rest of the pharma communications to happen. 

[1] N=28. Conducted on LinkedIn in November 2023

  • Lizzie Wright completed a PhD in cardiovascular medicine before starting in pharma PR and has worked at agencies in the UK and US for 10 years. She is currently a Executive Director at Virgo Health.
  • Laura Strain completed a PhD in genetic predictors of diabetes and obesity, starting her career as a medical writer before transitioning into pharma comms. She has 15 years of agency experience, and is currently Executive Vice President at Virgo Health.