Blogspot, Teach Me How to Sell It
May 11, 2015
Healthcare marketing is a minefield of FDA regulations. What you can write, suggest, and show about a product is all intensely scoured to be risk-free of any legal backlash.
Combine that job with the ongoing challenge that is public relations. Presenting the face of an organization and articulating its objectives to a modern, Internet-saturated audience is a colossal task. The intersection of PR and healthcare is also known as a typical day for Maryellen Royle, President of the North America practice for Tonic Life Communications.
Visualizing, building and managing communications programs is an idea of Maryellen and her team’s day-to-day workload. A Temple University graduate, her first job out of college was writing for the Daily Local News in West Chester. Maryellen would be sent out to report on school board meetings and the like, coming back to the newsroom and typing out a story that day to meet her deadline.
Having earned a degree in journalism with a focus on PR, she laughs that now it seems out of the ordinary to have gone into the field that she studied. She went from journalism to PR agencies and found that she loved working in healthcare marketing. A firm believer of following your interests in a career path, it’s no wonder that Tonic has flourished under her charge.
“I’ve made it through the ranks and held pretty much every title. I came in as an account coordinator, and worked my way up to assistant account executive, account executive, account supervisor, then VP, SVP, and EVP. I’ve led our US business for more than 6 years now, and I am grateful for everything I’ve learned trying to put this experience to work everyday.”
Originally known as Dorland Global, Tonic Life Communications exists to educate and engage key healthcare audiences. They marry the fields of LifeScience (prescription medicines and devices) and LifeStyle (consumer health and well-being brands) by communicating initiatives for both.
Dual headquarters in Philadelphia and London give the agency global reach and a network of other specialized agencies that also work under their parent company, Huntsworth Health.
With 25 years of PR experience under her belt, Maryellen says that the underlying objectives of the PR industry remain the same–it’s the channels that she and her team use to reach the patients and consumers that are new. Social media has shifted how patients go about researching their conditions, no longer solely relying on healthcare providers.
Maryellen’s advice for cutting through the white noise of WebMD? “Be good communicators. Find out who your audiences are, target and influence people to understand a concept, a product, an issue. Get them engaged and to take action, whether you want them to learn more on a website, share information with a physician/family member, or attend an event.”
What is she proud to have accomplished in 20 years of healthcare public relations? Working on disease education campaigns. She hates to highlight a particular one because they are all equally significant to her. Maryellen has worked on ailments ranging from diabetes, respiratory illness, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and neurological disorders.
“The most joy comes from when you go into a disease state where people feel like they’re forgotten or alone and you build a program that builds community. The reward is seeing how people feel more connected and feel better about living with a disease challenging health condition.”