Compliance is not the enemy. Complacency is.

As stewards of brands within the healthcare industry, our effort to communicate is regulated. Accountability takes many forms. We must comply with the guidance and instruction from governmental regulatory bodies. We must comply with the outcomes of internal promotional review committees. And ultimately we must comply with our own sense of ethic. With pressure to comply coming at us from every direction, there are times that taking a conservative pathway seems not only safer, but also more convenient.

Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s easier to compromise or fold your cards, than it is to swim against the tide – especially when our colleagues are armed with prior regulatory feedback and the power of precedence. Often deadlines remain carved in stone, the pressure mounts and you’ve got to get something across the finish line. This is when compliance starts to look like an insurmountable barrier that’s simply not worth the climb. The true barrier, however, is not compliance at all. It’s complacency.

Sentiments like “we’ve tried that before” or “this will never fly” may be 100% accurate, but the key is not to get stuck in any trench. The direction you would like to pursue shouldn’t be abandoned for the sake of expedience – mostly because what we choose to communicate often does create precedence.

Here are some thoughts on how to topple the complacency hurdle.

Look at the big picture.

Ultimately, what are you trying to accomplish? Often there are many ways of reaching the same destination. Keep your team focused on what matters and challenge them to help find ways of reaching your goal compliantly.

Challenge the norm.

Just because you’ve expressed a claim with certain language in the past doesn’t mean you cannot evolve. It’s got to be consistent with your brand messaging, but don’t let your team get stuck in a rut. Likewise, there are claims you may not have made in the past that might prove helpful. Reexamine context. Take a look at what language might help qualify the claim.

Broaden your perspective.

Learn from talking with your key constituents. Learn from the members on you team (internally and externally). Learn from your competition. Learn from other segments within the industry. Then do not be afraid to apply this knowledge to your brand.

Have a common goal.

It’s vital to draw attention to the shared objectives of your brand communication. Everyone has a role to play and expertise to offer. How can they best help reach the objective?

It is important to earn credibility and build trust throughout the development and review of brand communication. It’s not a question of “trying to get away with something”. It’s a matter of working your brand effectively and not taking the path of least resistance for the sake of convenience.

by Jonathan D. Katz

09/04/2013