As members of the healthcare community, we can all agree on one ultimate truth: Health is our greatest wealth. For this series, we are focusing on what it takes for creative to inspire behavior change, which is even more critical when trying to get someone to do something for their benefit.   

"It has to be authentic." As marketers, we’ve all heard this statement before–and for good reason. Authenticity is what happens when honesty, empathy and humanity collide. And it’s the crux of what makes good creative “good,” no matter your industry or expertise.       

If your story is too good to be true, no one will believe it. Too impersonal, and no one will care about it. Authentic creative allows our audiences to see their own experiences reflected back to them, helping them connect to your work on a personal level, which builds trust. And without trust, it’s not likely that someone will change their behavior.  

We asked Astrid Lansing-Defries, Executive Creative Director of GSW New York, a Syneos Health® group company and John Reid, PR EVP and Executive Creative Director, of Syneos Health, what it takes to make authentic creative that is powerful enough to shift habits. They found common ground in one resounding idea: The magic of authenticity lies in storytelling. Real people, telling real stories.   

"Nothing is more touching than someone sharing their story with you. True patient insight is the best. You can’t fake that empathy," explains Astrid.    

John had a similar take; "You build trust by showing, not by telling,” he says.   

What does it mean to “show instead of tell” in practice? For John, it means partnering with documentary film makers instead of commercial directors to help tell the personal stories behind a disease state. Asking questions and genuinely listening, instead of writing a script. Ultimately, it’s about asking yourself, over and over, if you are staying true to your audience. “All the decisions made in the pharmaceutical industry should be about the patient,” says John.  

Other ways to ensure authenticity in creative:  

Know your audience 

  • We must go deeper than baseline survey results and traditional high-level personas and consider the science behind decision-making, so that we can help our audiences make the best, most informed decisions for their health and wellbeing.   

Put the person before the condition  

  • Storytelling is about sharing a human experience. That humanity starts to take a back seat when marketers force product placement, use overly persuasive language, or try to refine the story for the sake of perfection. 

Raise the voices of real people  

  • Hiring actors requires manufacturing a story, which cancels any hope for authenticity. Highlighting those who have a tangible experience with a disease or diagnosis will give your story more validity.  

Of course, creative must be more than authentic to shift behavior. Stay tuned for more on what it takes to change behavior through creative.  

About the Author:

Kelly Abrams, Content Strategy Director at Syneos Health Communications, has a deep curiosity for what drives human behavior and is passionate about telling stories that connect the dots between data and the everyday. Prior to her career at Syneos, Kelly helped clients build brand loyalty and communicate with purpose in industries like retail, healthcare, and higher education.