Thought Leadership Series: McKesson Better Health Tour – Demonstrating Healthcare Innovation with Action

Challenging Established Perceptions

Established brands are often challenged by their deep roots and longevity in the marketplace when it comes to claiming true healthcare innovation. On one hand, a business that has weathered many market changes must have innovated at one point in its arc of existence. On the other, venerable brands may perceived with a limited ability to change.

McKesson Corporation faces this exact conundrum. As one of the oldest and largest healthcare companies in the nation, McKesson serves more than half of U.S. hospitals and 20 percent of physicians. Formed in the early 1800’s when organized healthcare was emerging nationally, McKesson played a significant role in the evolution of what we consider modern healthcare. Yet, the company is sometimes still thought of as part of the old guard, and not at the forefront of the rapid changes in healthcare, because of its longevity in the marketplace.

With this challenge in mind, McKesson wanted to take a fresh approach to creating dialogue about innovation across healthcare. The Better Health Tour – a cross-country tour aimed at gathering local health innovators to discuss fostering innovation – was launched as an answer to this challenge. At each stop, disruptors, customers and McKesson veterans gathered to share insights on how to drive healthcare innovation locally and nationally.

Driving Healthcare Innovation

SHIFT led the Tour promotion and aided in creating the thought leadership platform around healthcare innovation. SHIFT secured more than 34 million earned media impressions, 2.3 million tour-related social media impressions, and saw over 1,100 social shares of media coverage over the multi-month campaign. The successful strategy focused on three core elements:

  • Create a Compelling Narrative: Confirming a theme to encompass thought leadership and events must happen at the onset of communication and marketing planning. SHIFT and McKesson locked in on the theme of “David and Goliath” to convey the need for established and emerging companies to partner in driving healthcare innovation. The team leveraged stories of local innovators as proof points of how “Davids” were partnering with “Goliaths,” such as McKesson, to drive disruptive healthcare innovation.
  • Embrace Thought Leadership: Spokespeople must be willing to speak to a narrative – as well as to what the company is doing, how they’re doing it differently, and how it’s reshaping the industry. With SHIFT’s help, McKesson spokespeople put a stake in the ground and provided a point-of-view with examples on how best to drive transformative healthcare innovation. The team formed themes around industry trends such as cross-discipline collaboration and the “retailization of healthcare,” which resulted in hits like a byline for a senior executive in Harvard Business Review and coverage with US News & World Report.
  • Think Integrated: Companies need to embrace owned, earned and paid strategies to successfully drive market awareness. From leveraging paid ads to attract attendees, to crafting storylines that would resonate with media, to supporting the creation of video or written content that brought the Tour to life – SHIFT took a one-two-three punch to solidify McKesson as a healthcare innovator.

Veteran brands like McKesson have successfully leveraged event activations to reposition their organization and drive brand awareness. Taking a proactive, thought provoking stance and putting a stake in the ground with integrated communications drove McKesson’s Better Health Tour, demonstrating true healthcare innovation with action.

Katie McGraw
Vice President, Healthcare Practice


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