Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: The Challenge of Thinking Differently: A Case Study from the PRSA Health Academy

The Challenge of Thinking Differently: A Case Study from the PRSA Health Academy

Managing Editor

You've probably heard the quote, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Although this quote is typically used to encourage innovative thinking, for some, the notion that doing the same thing as before will produce similar results brings comfort. In fact, despite so much talk about the benefits of "thinking outside the box" and being "innovative," a Harvard Medical School study conducted in 2011 revealed that 60 to 80 percent of people find the task of thinking differently uncomfortable, and some people are exhausted merely by the thought of it.   

Why? Because it's hard! When it comes down to it, "original thought" is pretty nonexistent. We are all so connected and "ideas," especially the really good ones, tend to spread like wildfire through social media and online communities.

But we have to try (harder), because the one size fits all approach to communicating messages doesn't work anymore. Public relations professionals and other communicators used to be able to blast their message to the "world," and it worked. Once upon a time, we were publishing messages in magazines, newspapers, and newswires and on television and radio. Now, we've got all that plus email, search engines, social media, online news, mobile applications, and the list keeps growing.

Andrea Rothschild, co-founder of ARC2 Communications and Media spoke to a group of health communicators at the 2014 PRSA Health Academy about consumer engagement in a time when we all tend to be "over engaged."

Rothschild presented a case study from ARC2's portfolio. The challenge: Advance Pfizer Inc.'s reputation and gain trust among consumers by:

  • Developing a genuine relationship with consumers
  • Positioning Pfizer as a credible source of health and medical information
  • Motivating consumers to take action to improve their health

To do this, ARC2 launched a unique communications campaign with CBS television. As part of the campaign, Pfizer's CMO Dr. Freda Lewis Hall appeared as a recurring, on-air guest on the shows The Doctors, Rachael Ray, and others. The point was for Dr. Hall to talk about health. The key was that she didn'ttalk about Pfizer. The campaign was designed to enhance brand recognition and foster trust, but it was not intended to sell Pfizer products or directly impact sales. Dr. Hall has made more than 70 appearances. Check her out on the Dr. Phil Show talking about obsessive compulsive disorder.


In addition to the television appearances by Dr. Hall, the campaign included a health and wellness website,, to provide consumers with additional health information. To read more about the details of the campaign, visit ARC2's website.

The results: Consumers with a favorable opinion of the company increased from 45 percent before viewing any of the interviews to 62 percent after. In addition, more than 50 percent felt that Pfizer was a credible source of information compared with 30 percent before, 75 percent of consumers found the information trustworthy, and, most importantly, more than 50 percent of viewers expressed intent to act on the information they had heard.

Developing new and effective messages is challenging, for sure, but as this case suggests, the payoff for both you and your clients can be significant. Find the right message, channel, and vehicle foryouraudience, and make it happen!

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