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Telling a medical story

How to Choose the Ideal Format For Your Medical Story

Choosing the right format for your medical story

Storytelling is the cornerstone of every piece of content you create. A strong story makes content more engaging for your audience, and a medical story must captivate the reader if they are to understand the information it contains and follow up afterwards with further research. 

Stories are an important way of connecting with the audience, and enhancing your content’s impact by linking the subject directly to the speaker’s interests. Each story will speak to a different audience member with different needs. So no two campaigns should be the same. You can also enhance your text-based story using multimedia tools, such as podcasts, infographics and videos.

Focus first on making the content compelling. Tell your story well to encourage engagement, then consider your format options.

Medical story formats

There are a variety of communication options to choose from, including textual (highlights/plain language summaries), visual (video/infographic/animation) and audio (podcast). It’s up to you to decide the best medium for your medical story. 

Your audience should be your first consideration. How do they choose to consume information? Everyone learns in a different way, so offer options for people who like to watch or listen to content, as well as those who prefer to read.

Consider whether your story would work best with a text-based summary or an omnichannel approach. Textual content is ideal for in-depth discussions using multiple sources. Multimedia summaries offer greater reach and more opportunities for audience interaction. Social media posts and post-event emails are a good idea regardless of the audience or the theme of your campaign.

Textual formats for medical stories

There are many textual formats to choose from when planning a medical story. Which one is best for you?

A highlight (also known as a plain language summary or PLS) is a short explanation of a dense medical study. It contains the most important information but is not visually stimulating.

You should use a PLS when your source has many important points to spotlight. This format is most effective when the audience has prior knowledge of the subject matter, e.g. professionals with little spare time.

You might decide your story would work best as a blog post. This is a mid-length piece, usually written in an informal or journalistic style to engage a broader readership. A blog post is designed to entertain the reader and grab their attention. There are disadvantages to this format. A blog post only partially covers the source information and often requires hyperlinks to additional background studies and sources. The ideal audience for a blog post has limited time but is interested in reading more on the subject.

Visual formats for medical stories

Visual media may seem appealing but should be used judiciously. A video is stimulating and interesting and can convey a lot of information in a short space of time. Keep it concise and compelling, though, or your audience may not watch to the end. Videos have broad appeal, but are particularly attractive to digital natives.

Animation is striking and thought-provoking, and allows you to portray abstract ideas visually. Without human faces, however, you may find science audiences perceive such content as less scientifically credible. A younger audience, or those who use social media frequently, may react best to this format. 

Infographics provide visual interest and a quick way of conveying complex information. They offer limited space for multiple sources but can be a very effective, shareable format for medical storytelling. 

Audio formats for medical stories

These audio formats are less popular than visual media, but are very useful for people who learn best through listening. 

Interviews with subject matter experts are hosted on mainstream podcast platforms. Audiences can discover new companies through the audio interviews. Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to at the user’s leisure, and are more relatable to the average audience member . 

In a podcast, listeners hear directly from a subject matter expert who can share dense information in interesting, accessible ways. Without visuals, though, certain data may be difficult to convey.

Key points

In medical storytelling, each format has its advantages and disadvantages. There are no rules preventing you using multiple digital assets in a marketing or information-sharing campaign. Use an omnichannel approach to address different audiences, from HCPs to the general public. 

Find out how SciencePOD can help you tell a captivating medical story.

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