What’s artificial intelligence got to do with it?

By Grainne Maguire, Director, London, UK

Artificial intelligence (AI) and what it will mean for mankind is a hot topic in the media now. We are, we are told, at the beginning of the next wave of an industrial revolution, the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and this time, the wave is being driven by AI. While Elon Musk said that AI ‘is a fundamental risk’  to human civilisation and the late Stephen Hawking warned against the dangers of it replacing humans, there isn’t any doubt that AI is here to stay. We already use AI and machine-learning technologies in everyday life, whether it’s setting prices on Amazon, tracking your Deliveroo order to your door, or receiving recommendations for music you like on Spotify.

AI in Healthcare

What I’m intrigued by, however, is what is happening on the health front and what can be achieved there. The adoption of AI in healthcare is growing. Predictions from the new report Worldwide Health Industry 2018 Predictions, from research and consulting firm IDC Health Insights, say that ‘by 2021, 20 percent of healthcare and 40 percent of life science organisations will have achieved 15 to 20 percent productivity gains through the adoption of cognitive/AI technology.’ For the healthcare systems and patients, that must be a good thing, leading to improved care for patients and a more sustainable future. AI tools are already in use in major disease areas e.g. in cancer-analysing clinical images to identify skin cancer subtypes, and an AI system for neurology used to restore the control of movement in patients with quadriplegia. Researchers have also used machine learning to identify how individual stroke patients might respond to different medications based on the unique structure of their brain!

There’s no doubt that AI can do seriously impressive stuff and it’s no surprise that Google, Microsoft and IBM have recently moved into the AI healthcare space with Apple and Amazon expected to follow suit. But for most of us AI is an enigma and we need more understanding of this emerging technology and how it impacts our health and wellbeing. Hopefully, if it’s handled right, AI will bring substantial benefits in managing our health without risk to our independence, and certainly we need help in collating those mountains of data!

What do you think about AI? Tweet us @TonicLC to share your thoughts.


What I Have Learned from Working with Patients

By Chrissie Hannah, Senior Account Executive

It’s one of the key buzzwords in pharma – patient-centricity. All companies say patients are at the heart of what they do; if they don’t, they certainly strive for it. The online space is rich with articles on how this can really be achieved and how it’s measured, but ultimately there is nothing more valuable than that face-to-face time with the patient, getting to know them, and genuinely caring about helping them.

Over the last year, I have had the privilege of working on a particularly inspiring project, partnering with patients, for patients. On behalf of one of our clients, we aimed to develop an awareness campaign that showcases the lives of six women from around the world, to highlight what survival means to those living with terminal breast cancer.

What first struck me was that patients really want to get involved. I had imagined there would be difficulties finding someone willing to share details about their difficult journey and terminal diagnosis. However, the ladies involved not only agreed to take part, but were very passionate about the campaign. They wanted to help us spread the message of positivity to others suffering with this terminal illness.

We interviewed them over the phone, then spent time in their homes for a photoshoot. As we listened to each of their stories, and got to know them the more time we spent with them, I realised I had started to become emotionally invested in the work. The campaign objectives had already been established, and were still being met, but after speaking with these patients I started to have an additional purpose. I could see that the project was really helping them. As they talked openly about their diagnosis, life, family and the future, they seemed to find it healing, almost therapeutic.

The finished product was a beautiful bound book of each patient’s photos and stories. The feedback received from the women involved was overwhelming – they loved seeing other stories alongside theirs, and felt more motivated than before to share their own story. Although the full project is not yet complete, it shows this first part of the campaign achieved results on many levels.

Of course, this is just one disease area with a specific audience. However, I have learned so much from this wonderful, inspirational group of women. By connecting with patients at this level, you can really get to the heart of their thoughts, hopes and fears – and could end up helping them in more ways than one. Working this closely with patients on such an emotive and powerful project reminds us of the greater good in our work, and why we do it.


Five Insights into How Millennials Want News

By Alyssa Morrello, Senior Media Relations Specialist

Newsflash! My fellow millennials and I are completely changing the way newsworthy content is being created, shared, consumed, and cultivated.

While previous generations depended on regularly scheduled television newscasts, the same cannot be said for the “on-demand” nature that digital news provides today.

In fact, digital outlets currently serve as the main source of news globally for the majority of those under 35, including 64% of those between the ages of 18 and 24.

This month I had the opportunity to learn more about “America’s First Digital Generation” with VICE News. Here are five key takeaways for getting the attention of the millennial audience.

  • Show, don’t tell. With an overabundance of news sources (digital, traditional, and even social!) millennials can read a headline anywhere and get a general gist of the news. Expanding beyond the “telling” of the news and actually “showing” the effect is what will capture our attention.
  • Provide a different perspective. When given the opportunity to provide a new perspective or spin on things, do it! VICE had outstanding results when they chose to cover Hurricane Harvey by doing a story on how Houston was designed to be flooded. We knew the hurricane was a disaster that was ravaging the community but were unaware of the infrastructure angle VICE provided, which is why it drove remarkable results.
  • Have your characters in place. A story, whether it be within the news or even an editorial feature, is not complete without characters. Whether it be a quirky researcher or a young mom, we are looking for humans to add color to the story and make it memorable and easily relatable.
  • Take time to understand your audience’s habits. Tracking audience habits, whether it be via social feeds or page views, is vital. Through tracking and taking time to understand their audience, VICE News realized their viewers and readers were especially interested in the social justice pieces and they now hone in on those aspects whenever possible.
  • Stories can travel across channels if adapted! It is important to provide the news in more than one place, especially because you never know what platform your individual audience members are utilizing to get their information! Putting a story on YouTube, Instagram, and even on a digital platform like an app is great; just make sure to lead with the best stuff and adjust the content length to match the platform.

The main takeaway is that originality is key. When brainstorming innovative ways to bring a story to life, ask yourself, “What will you bring to the story that no one else can?”

To keep up with future events and more from the Tonic team follow us on Instagram (@Toniclc) and add us on Twitter (@Toniclc)!

Three Key Takeaways from Social Analytics Experts

Co-Authored By: Kelly Cross, Assistant Account Executive and Silje Lier, Senior Account Supervisor

Recently we had the opportunity to venture up to Times Square for the NYC Sysomos Summit and got a refresher on all things social analytics. To get you up to speed, Sysomos is an insights-driven social platform that we use for social monitoring, listening and analytics.

At this year’s summit, Sysomos brought together experts from companies like Google, Reddit and WWE, who each shared a unique perspective as to how digital data and analytics drive their business decisions.

The speakers shared what it takes to succeed in the modern digital age. Here are key highlights.

  1. Data is KING. This point was stressed in sessions throughout the entire day—data, data, data. Too often companies push out social media content without taking the time to gauge reactions—both positive and negative—to those posts, or they measure social media performance in a silo. Because social media has become a focal point for new, loyal and potential customers to voice opinions about the product or services offered by a company, taking an integrated approach to analytics is imperative. It not only provides companies with the means to understand its competitors and trends within the space, but also taps into consumers’ opinions which allows a greater understanding as to where improvements can be made.
  2. Listen to your audience to uncover opportunities. We hear this all the time, but blindly posting content without understanding who they’re aiming to reach and why, along with identifying the best platform to reach them, prohibits companies from getting in front of people who are most likely to discover or react positively to their business. Elizabeth Motta, Director of Talent and Data Analytics at WWE, shared how the fan-driven #GiveDivasAChance campaign completely altered WWE’s programming. Social listening led to the creation of a women’s WWE division – and lots of happy fans worldwide (more than 850 million, to be exact).
  3. Don’t be afraid of new advances in technology. Summit speakers pointed to artificial intelligence, voice technology, and increasingly live social experiences (e.g. Facebook and Instagram Live) as trends to look out for in 2018. Be prepared to adapt to available consumer touchpoints and look for smart ways to engage in an era of utility-seeking, status-sharing consumers.

To keep up with future events and more from the Tonic team follow us on Instagram (@Toniclc) and add us on Twitter (@Toniclc)!

Tweet a recap of our takeaways with the infographic below. [Click to view full PDF.]

I Loved Someone Who Was Rare

By Theresa Liddy DolgeChief Media Relations Officer, Tonic Life Communications

Some people never meet their hero, but I gave birth to mine. My daughter, Angelina, was born with an incredibly rare disease called Neonatal Marfan Syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder. There is no cure.

Angelina was born on February 5, 2008, and just 23 days later, the very first Rare Disease Day was held. I am truly amazed at how far society has come in raising awareness of rare diseases in the last ten years, and I remain hopeful for what the future may hold.

As someone who works in healthcare public relations, I am often part of the very team looking to tell stories like my own to help the 30 million Americans living with rare diseases. Every time I touch a rare disease account I feel uniquely positioned to provide insights only someone who has walked this path would know such as:

  • Get the right diagnosis. Initially my daughter was diagnosed with Beal’s Syndrome. I didn’t learn she had Neonatal Marfan Syndrome until she was 10 months old.
  • Find a support system. I was desperate to find other moms like myself and canvased every corner of the internet to find them. Discovering The Marfan Foundation was life-changing for me. I am still friends with a mom in Australia through an amazing platform they have called NMF Connect.
  • Build an integrated medical team. I saw eight different specialists ranging from orthopedic surgeons to cardiologists. Making sure they all talked with one another and were aware of what everyone else was doing saved me a lot of time.

Perhaps, even more importantly I can relate with many mom warriors of rare disease children because:

  • I have slept on a hospital couch for countless, consecutive nights
  • I have cried in the shower alone because I didn’t want my family to know how upset I was when other kids and parents pointed and stared at my child
  • I have become a ‘doctor without a diploma,’ knowledgeable about all things related to my daughter’s disease
  • I have watched my child on life support and receiving bags and bags of donated blood (so please give blood if you can)

Angelina died in 2010, so being able to continue to work in the rare disease space helps me to feel like my daughter did not die in vain.

I am reminded each year on Rare Disease Day of all we have accomplished and everything we have left to overcome.

The kindest action a person can do is to encourage others despite their own pain.

We are all worth a cure. Never lose hope.

Four Key Takeaways from #BlogHer18 Health

Co-Authored By: Samantha Bolinski, Senior Account Executive and Kate Callan, SVP, Social Strategy

We had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2018 BlogHer conference where, for the first time, the focus was on health. Held in the uber-chic neighborhood of Tribeca, New York, the conference was swarming with women from all areas of the health and wellness online media space. The conference kicked off with a networking/cocktail hour followed by the 2018 Voices of the Year Honorees ceremony where the list of recipients included inspiring and revolutionary women such as Chelsea Clinton, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Tarana Burke, to name a few (ya know, NBD).

Following an epic night with several women who, quite frankly, changed the world, we were ready to tackle day two of #BlogHer18 Health! The agenda was jammed packed with sessions led by some pretty fierce, self-made influencers in the health/wellness industry, both on and offline.

Topics included personal stories from women who have overcome significant obstacles in their own lives and became advocates for others’ health, overviews of disease awareness health campaigns, engaging with and educating the media, using video and photos to enhance storytelling and how film can be a catalyst for conversations around health, to name a few.

As we reflect on BlogHer18 Health, here are our four key takeaways:

    1. Authenticity is key to engagement. Authenticity is what an audience craves because it shows vulnerability, particularly in the health industry. It’s all about being honest and true, and unapologetically you. Authenticity is what invites your audience to open up and engage via comments, liking and direct messaging. An engaged audience that connects with the true persona of an influencer or brand is more valuable than a huge audience that is not engaged. Influencers are savvy and those with a strong focus on authenticity will pull this through to the brands they chose to align with.
    2. Know your audience, and tailor content for them and each platform you use. In addition to authenticity, tailoring content based on platforms is critical in managing and maintaining a community. During BlogHer, influencers shared that their followers visit them for different things on different platforms and they tailor content to what works best for each audience. Knowing this, community managers must remember to identify the right place for the right content at the right time to be successful.
    3. Online connections are powerful ways to manage health issues. Today, communities of all types have been reliant on social media to connect with others going through similar experiences. Patient communities are looking to hear from fellow patients to help support and guide them on their health journey. While medical information from a physician cannot be replaced, online patient communities often supplement these discussions with real life experiences.
    4. “Your best idea doesn’t come to you while you’re texting.” Arianna Huffington said it best! Despite co-founding an online media group, Arianna has become an advocate for the need to unplug and destress in a world that is always connected. During her closing talk, she reminded everyone how important it is to disconnect and talk to your peers to conceptualize new ideas. Instead of emailing or texting back and forth, host a brainstorm or take a (device-free) walk. Do not neglect exercising your creative side!

For more from behind-the-scenes at #BlogHer18 Health, follow us on Instagram (@Toniclc) to view highlights from the conference floor and on Twitter (@Toniclc) to read the insights we heard throughout the day!

Lastly, huge thank you to SheKnows Media for a wonderful and educational experience!

Share a recap of our takeaways with this cool infographic. [Click to view full PDF]

3 Tips for Adapting to Facebook’s News Feed Update

By Kate Callan, Senior Vice President, Social Strategy

In case you missed it, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made a big announcement on Thursday that will impact business pages moving forward. In a nutshell, Facebook is making a dramatic update to the News Feed algorithm (how they decide what content you see) to focus heavily on posts from close family and friends and will include very little from pages you follow. Pages can be anything from a large brand to local small businesses or even bloggers and advocacy groups.

In recent years, Facebook’s ever-evolving algorithm slowly reduced the number of followers that see organic page posts to a very small percentage (reported somewhere between 1 – 10 percent). This latest change means that even fewer page followers will be exposed to posts in News Feeds which is the primary way people consume content on Facebook.

What does this mean for those managing business pages? Here are my initial thoughts.

  1. Engage and explore live. While engaging content has been important for a while, the only type of page content Facebook said they will somewhat prioritize in News Feed is live video. In terms of organic reach, it seems video and going live will continue to be important considerations. In our experience, live does spark engagement, particularly when you are working with a notable personality or sharing exclusive information.
  2. Develop a paid strategy. In order for people to see page content, a paid strategy should be put into place if it hasn’t been already. We’ve made a shift to pages that we manage to streamline the number of posts and ensure all new content that we develop is boosted. If you put time into developing awesome content, be sure someone will see it! From what we’ve seen reported, the changes to page posts in News Feeds will not affect sponsored posts, so that should remain a reliable way to get your content seen.
  3. Consider Groups. Groups might become a new opportunity to cultivate the communities we used to be able to develop through pages. Especially in healthcare, we strive to create a sense of community when connecting patients with similar experiences. While the analytics and control of the message are not as strong as they are on pages, it’s possible that Facebook will evolve Groups to fill the gap left by diminished organic pages.

Want to chat about how this might affect your social strategy in 2018? Email me at Kate.Callan@toniclc.com.

Tonic’s Thanksgiving Recipe Book

By Maryellen Royle, Global CEO

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” – Henry Van Dyke

During this season of Thanksgiving, Tonic would like to thank our colleagues and friends for another fulfilling year of new opportunities and growth. And we remain most grateful for our clients’ continued partnership. We hope you enjoy some of the Tonic team’s favorite holiday recipes as a token of our thanks.

View & download Tonic’s 2017 Recipe Book.

Top 5 Reasons Tonic Loves Working with Patient Advocates

By Jenny Gallo, Vice President

At Tonic, our mantra is “people, not patients.” As a healthcare public relations agency, we work to bring our pharma, biotech and medical device clients together with real people living with disease, from the “everyday patient” to leading online advocates. Through these efforts, we have gotten to know so many amazing people, and apparently they’ve gotten to know us, as evidenced by our nomination for the 2017 WEGO Health Awards as Best Healthcare Collaborator Company! Check out more about the awards here.

In addition to this great honor for Tonic, I was also asked to be a judge this year by WEGO thanks to Tonic’s reputation and history working with the community. I was so excited to get to know even more faces in the advocacy world as I checked out up-and-comers and saw how individuals and organizations are using social media to further their causes. Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons Tonic Loves Working with Patient Advocates”