Medical Content Writing: What I Learned about Healthcare Content Marketing from Working at the CDC

I actually didn't go to pharmacy school
for the reason that most people do. Right before I decided
to go to pharmacy school, I was actually debating between
pharmacy or public health and I ultimately ended up
choosing pharmacy school, but my goal was to
understand how drugs work. My goal was not to become a
traditionally practicing pharmacist like in a community or a hospital setting. And so I always had that
public health lens during pharmacy school. Very early on I realized that that thread
that was going to help me link from, from pharmacy to public
health was writing. My ultimate goal-like my big
dream-was to become a public health pharmacist at the CDC and
I accomplished that goal. I got a fellowship position
in health communications for the antibiotic stewardship
campaign at CDC and so my job was to help translate the scientific
research that the subject matter experts developed and translate that
into content that was understandable for the general public.

I was like a liaison between the science
minds and the lay people who needed to understand what was going on as far
as the research goes. That was really, I think, my first introduction
to content marketing, even though it wasn't framed in that way. And I realized maybe I could take these
same things that I'm learning as a health communications fellow at
the CDC and use that skill and my love of writing to help educate
my family and my friends about important public health pharmacy topics. So around that same time I created this
blog called Your Friendly Public Health Pharmacist and the goal was
just to communicate important
public health pharmacy information, but in an
entertaining and an engaging way. I was seeing that a lot of the health
information that was out there on the internet…a) it was either
wrong or b) it was just very dry and boring. And you know, as a pharmacist and a public
health professional, I
could barely get through it. So I know that the general public was
not really going to be interested in reading that health
content that way either.

So I wanted to make sure that I spiced
my blog up and made it really interesting and engaging for people to enjoy
and also take what they learned in that content and apply it to their
actual lives. So I'm enjoying my blog. I'm enjoying my position
in health communications at
CBC, and all of a sudden, this health company reaches out to me
via email and asked if I would be willing to write health content for their website. They said that they found my blog and
that they were really impressed by it and they wanted someone with a similar style
and a similar approach to help create content for their website.

And I was shocked because I didn't realize
that that was something that people would pay for. So I said,
sure, of course, you know, I'm doing this anyway for my personal
blog that I'm not making money from, you know, why not help out this health company
and they're willing to pay for it. I think that was the first time I really
understood the power of health content and why companies need content
to draw people to their companies, but also to help improve health outcomes
through the information that they are providing to people. And it was really awesome
that I got to use what I learned as a health communications
researcher at the CDC and apply that to content marketing online in
a very culturally relevant, entertaining and engaging
way. I'm Megan Nichole. I'm a public health pharmacist turned
healthcare copywriter and content strategist and I help innovative health
companies and health practices develop and execute culturally-relevant content
marketing strategies so that they can improve their patients' health
outcomes, improve brand loyalty, and increase their bottom lines. One big subject we talked about a lot
at the CDC was plain language.

You know, making sure that the health content
is provided in a very basic way that people can understand. You know, we're not using big
fancy scientific words. We're making it very plain and
understandable for the general public. So plain language is a big piece of
what I took away from my job as a CDC, public health pharmacist. But I want to take that a step further
today I want to talk about how the content that really impacts
ethnically-diverse communities is not just about plain language. It's
about much more than that. And so I want to talk about three main
things that if you include these in your content strategies, in
your content writing, you're really gonna make an impact
with communities of color and you're going to really make an impact with your
culturally relevant content marketing. First I want to know is your health
company or health practice currently creating, developing, publishing,
promoting health content online? Do you have a blog? Are you making
videos? Are you sending emails? Is there any content that's coming out
of your health company, your practice, and going out to the general public? Let me know in the comments so I can
get a sense of where everyone is.

Point number one, it's not
just about plain language, it's also about cultural relevance.
When I talk about cultural relevance, I'm not just talking about using
the same language that your target community uses. I'm not talking about using the
latest slang or using the same ways to refer to religious
figures or holidays. I'm not just talking about that. I'm
talking about the morals, the values, the cultural beliefs, the traditions that are relevant
to your target communities. Those are the things that you need to
have in mind when you're developing the strategy and the content that is going
to go out on behalf of your company or on behalf of your practice. Here's a really good example and it's
related to the CDC. Now, disclaimer: I had nothing to do with this, but there was that whole debacle
with the CDC's recommendations that you should not wash
raw chicken before you prepare and cook it. Now, for some of you that might seem like
common sense, for others of you, you might be shocked.

A lot of that is highly dependent
upon your cultural background. So in African American
communities for example, it is very common to
wash or rinse raw chicken before you season it. Before you prepare it before you cook
it in order to get, I don't know, the gunk off. Like that is something that my grandmother
taught me and my mother taught me. And you know, that's something that is commonly done
in the African American community. And so when the CDC put
out an article about not washing raw chicken…that did not translate well to the
African American community at large.

And so there was a lot of, um, tension there because the cultural
significance to that community was not really taken into account when that
recommendation was made and when the public-facing content
was pushed out for it. So that's a little example of how
cultural relevance is a really important factor in determining whether or not your
message is going to resonate with the community that is directed to. The next thing is that it's
not just about plain language, it's also about engaging your audience.
How many times do you go to Google, search for a question, find
an answer, go to the website, see this a long blog post with just words, just all bunched together and huge
blocks, no headings, no separations, no images, no videos.

Nothing to break
up the monotony of all of those words. And then think about another
website that you might go to, read a blog post and there is a poll,
there's a quiz, there's a video, there's an image. All of those things are there to help
break up the monotony of that blog post and keep you engaged and
interested in what you are reading. When you engage with the
people who are reading, you extend the length of time
that they are interacting with you and your brand and you also make
them much more invested in the interaction. So think about like
when you go on Facebook, right? And maybe you have colleagues
or friends or parents or grandparents who are always doing these
random Facebook quizzes like which Game of Thrones character are you most like, or which Harry Potter
house do you belong to? And they post their results
because people love doing quizzes. People love taking polls.

So when you can incorporate
interactive content like that into your content, that is going to get people to
engage more with you and be much more tied to and invested in your company. And that's exactly what you want to
accomplish through your content marketing. The last thing, it's not
just about plain language, it's also about entertaining. People want to be entertained and we
don't talk about entertainment enough when it comes to health and medical content. You could have the best
video in the world, the most thorough ebook in the country, but if that piece of content is boring, if it's dry, if it's not interesting, no one is going to read it,
no one is going to consume it.

So we cannot underestimate
the power of entertainment. Have you ever heard of HHS?
Not Health and Human Services, but Hollywood Health and Society. It's an organization that is
dedicated to providing accurate health and medical
information to Hollywood. So the purpose is to make
sure that as writers are creating shows and movies and
those shows and movies involve health and medical topics, that they are reflecting those
health and medical topics accurately, that they are promoting messages that go
along with the messages that should be promoted from a scientific standpoint, it's funded by organizations like the
CDC, the California Healthcare Foundation. Why do you think big organizations
like that would be putting money behind Hollywood Health and Society.

It's because health entertainment
works and it's important and it's a great way to make sure that the health
messages you are wanting to promote are getting to the people
who need to hear them. They know and recognize the power and the
importance of health entertainment and you can adopt that same
mindset through your content. You don't have to go connect
with a writer in Hollywood, but you can- You can reflect that same
energy through the content that you produce for your brand. Okay? Don't be afraid to step outside the
box and make it fun and interesting and entertaining. One of the reasons I left
CDC, that health communications role, and decided to go out on my
own as a healthcare copywriter
and content marketing strategist is because I really
enjoy the writing work. You know, I really enjoyed digging into the
research and finding out what the salient health information was, but I wanted to, I wanted to add a more creative
flair to it and so I went out on my own so that I could have more of that
creative freedom to create health and medical content that is culturally
relevant, that is engaging, that is entertaining and that
is exactly what I do today.

I worked with health companies in health
practices who want to create content that is like that. So if you are one of those people who
work for a health company or health practice that's interested in really
spicing up your health content and making content marketing a legitimate inbound
marketing strategy for growing your brand, proving your patient health
outcomes and increasing your bottom line, then make sure you subscribe
to this YouTube channel. Every week I'm going to be sharing a new
video that really gets into the health care content marketing tips
that you don't hear so often. So make sure you click the red
subscribe button so that you can stay on top of the latest and greatest
in healthcare content marketing. Also hit the notification bell because
that will make sure that you are notified whenever there is a new
video available for you.

If you want to explore what
working together looks like, I'm happy to chat with you. All you have to do is click the link
that's in the description for this episode to set up a meet and greet call. We'll be able to talk to each other for
a few minutes and find out if we might be a good match and if a
working relationship might
be helpful to make sure that you have the most amazing health content
on the web.

I'll see you next Thursday..

As found on YouTube

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