Health PR | Karina Durham - General Manager, Palin Communications

Discover why Health PR is a rewarding sector to work within and the kind of meaningful campaigns you could be part of


Boutique agency Palin Communications has been one of Australia's leading health PR specialists for more than 20 years. General Manager Karina Durham joined the company in a junior position and now, 14 years later, is the General Manager. In this sector specialist episode, Karina shines a light on the importance of storytelling within Health PR, why it's such a rewarding sector to work within and the key to landing a health communications job when you have zero sector experience. Plus, we also discuss the areas emerging PR professionals should focus on when they're at the start of their careers, to really make a mark.


Read beyond your industry. You will become exposed to ideas and opportunities that may inspire ideas, content and strategies."

Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more about working in health PR. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".



WHAT ARE SOME THINGS I WOULDN'T KNOW ABOUT WORKING WITHIN HEALTH PR?

  • Storytelling is at the heart of the Health PR sector as you're developing and sharing important messaging which benefits the community

  • In the agency sector, your work can range from introducing new pharmaceutical products and companies to the market as well as developing public health initiatives and communication programs for meaningful health research, as well as working with non-profit organisations. This makes it an incredibly rewarding sector to work within

  • Whereas PR services in the health space previously had a media relations focus, it's now very much multi-dimensional, like many other PR sectors, and includes earned (editorial coverage), owned (content you create for your clients - blogs, videos, animations etc), shared (social media) and paid (advertising and paid promotions).


WHAT DO HEALTH COMMUNICATORS HAVE TO BE MINDFUL OF?

  • You do need to be trained on the regulations of the health industry, to ensure content you create is compliant. Each country will have their own regulations.

  • Case studies are incredibly important when it comes to creating a connection between the everyday consumer and new and emerging health news. Case studies are also powerful tools to help share the benefits of a medicine, therapy or innovation in the health space. However, you need to be sensitive to the impact making a personal story public, will have on an individual.


HOW IMPORTANT IS PREVIOUS HEALTH PR EXPERIENCE, WHEN APPLYING FOR A JOB IN THE HEALTH PR SECTOR?

  • Like most PR sectors, you don't have to have direct health PR experience to be the best candidate for the job. You do need to display how your experience is relevant to this sector and you need to be the ideal cultural fit for the company. Plus, you also need to have a genuine connection and interest to the sector.


WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SKILLS EMERGING PR PROFESSIONALS SHOULD REALLY FOCUS ON DEVELOPING IN THE EARLY STAGES OF THEIR CAREERS?

  • Do as many internships as you can during your studies, whether they are part of your university program or not. It will help you understand what you are (and are not) connected to about PR which will help inform the type of company and sector you may want to work in.

  • Try to get a bird's eye view of your projects and clients so you understand how a campaign comes together. You may only be personally involved in a smaller element of that campaign but by making the effort to absorb the broader context, goals and results of a campaign, you'll be better placed when you start to create strategies of your own.

  • Be comfortable with sharing your opinions. It's important to respectfully challenge team members, managers and clients on their thoughts, beliefs, tactics and strategies, as it can help bring a broader perspective to a campaign.

  • Have attention to detail. Don't rush through a project and make sure you do each element of a task to a high standard.

  • Be one step ahead of everyone, especially a manager and a client. Think of what they may ask of you and address it in advance. It shows you have initiative plus it's a quick way of building trust and respect.

  • Take in as much news as you can. The more you engross yourself in news, the easier it is to pitch, prepare pitches and formulate media releases. It also informs how you can adapt the same message for media releases, blogs and social media. Just take a look at a news story that runs in a paper and see how it's tweaked for online and what they choose to share across social media. In addition, by reading news, your vocabulary will expand and you'll have a better understanding of syntax and grammar.



If you'd like to learn more about working in other sectors of PR such as lifestyle, hospitality, beauty or television, you'll find those episodes here.