Shooting for 10%

Shooting for 10%

I love advocacy. I love listening to someone’s story and working to understand what it is they actually need. I love helping patients and caregivers, healthcare professionals and companies find their voice. I love that in our business we so often get to delve into the day-to-day challenges of living with or treating various medical conditions and can offer tangible support to those looking for real solutions.

An interesting article I read recently focused on the importance of influenceability in advocacy strategies. The article went on to suggest that the tipping point for influence happens when 10 per cent of a population hold an unshakeable belief. At that point, they argue, their persuasion seems to take over and it is likely that is when a new tenet is accepted by the rest of the population. They cite the American suffragette movement as an example.

I’ve given those suffragettes and the idea of that 10 per cent a lot of thought. Who is that 10 per cent? How do we know when we find them?

There’s the academic answer, of course, but there’s the answer that is a product of our own experience and listening. The 10 per cent we are looking for are the ones that live that unmet need. The ones who have it all on the line, to whom decisions about access to medications and drug safety and provincial formularies matter – not as an academic exercise, but as a what happens to them tomorrow scenario. Advocacy, whether it is to government or one-on-one with one’s own doctor, matters because what happens to them next hinges on it.

A short time ago I had the chance to meet with a large group of patients. They shared their frustrations and challenges with their illness, but what they spent the most time talking about was how to make life better for themselves and those around them. Clearly, they believed information is meant to be shared, questions are meant to be asked, and solutions are found through conversations with others who are living the experience. They are the 10 per cent. And they start making things better by listening to one another.

And that’s why I love the work we do at energi PR – because advocacy, a typically talk-focused activity, is at its core, about listening. It’s about sussing through the stories, understanding what real patients need, and what tomorrow looks like.

The 10 per cent tell you their stories with tears in their eyes – passion in their throats or fire in their hearts. They know their key messages, they live them every day. They need someone to hear them. We, as professional communicators, are privileged to be the stewards of their stories. And, our greatest contribution to both advocacy and that 10 per cent is in how well we listen. The most powerful communication strategies start by saying nothing.

Marlo Taylor is Senior Vice-President and Healthcare Practice Lead at energi PR.