Career Insights: Strategic communications at work in the healthcare industry

Hear from Elon alumnae about their experiences working with the W20 Group, a healthcare marketing firm. If you are thinking about a career in communications and marketings, this article provides insight into the healthcare industry and advice for students who are thinking about this career path.

This is part of a  series of columns from the Student Professional Development Center offering industry insights and career guidance.

By: Kiara Hines, Career Development Graduate Apprentice

If you are a student in the School of Communications, chances are you know what strategic communications entail. If not, it is basically what its name suggests: finding ways to market and communicate products, concepts and policy with clients in a strategic manner.

Kiara Hines, graduate apprentice for career development

How companies go about this process is much more complex and involved, but at its core, those interested in this branch of communications should expect to be well-versed in collecting information and media and delivering them to the public effectively. As strategic communications is a niche under the broader communications umbrella, healthcare is a specialized field that enlists the use of tactical approaches to relaying important information to patients, medical providers, and other stakeholders through marketing, advertising, and public relations.

Nicole Friend ’15 and Brooke Muller ’19 recently visited Elon from W2O Group, a healthcare-focused marketing communications firm, to share their take on a growing industry, including what interested students can do to be successful in the field.

How would you describe W2O’s approach to effectively marketing healthcare to its clients?

Overall, healthcare is negatively represented as purely being revenue-focused and all about the bottom line. However, W2O analyzes data and creates campaigns that are patient-focused and places them at the heart of the work we do.

 In your opinion, what do you believe prepares students for a role in this industry?

  • Experience in public speaking
  • Relevant experiential learning opportunities (i.e. branding, media analytics, strategic writing, business communication classes)
  • Effective time management skills
  • A “big picture” mindset
  • Involvement in organizations such as Live Oak that will develop transferable skills
  • An understanding of analytics and how data drives decisions
  • Taking advantage of Excel certification offered on campus
  • Knowledge of software such as Cision and Muck Rack

What is your advice for students preparing to transition into full-time employment?

Unlike undergrad, it is far less likely to receive constant and explicit feedback on each task that you complete. It is expected of you to do your job and do it well, so don’t be surprised if you are not being notified of your performance every step of the way. Additionally, agency work is fast-paced. It is important to have a ‘can-do’ attitude and be prepared to jump right in from day one. Elon does an outstanding job of helping students transition smoothly and excel in their roles, so students feeling stressed or overwhelmed should take solace in the fact that they are equipped with the tools they need to be successful!

Interested in strategic communications in the healthcare field?

W2O Group has a 10-week, full-time, paid summer internship opportunity for current students and recent graduates in any major. Be on the lookout for more information via the Elon Job Network.

November 15- Healthcare Communications Career Trek

Interested students will visit G&S Business Communications and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) in Raleigh/Durham to learn more about Healthcare Communications. Space is limited. RSVP through the Elon Job Network under the “Events” tab (entitled “G&S Business Communications).