By Hannah Baker
Not all copywriting was created equally. While social media companies may be used to switching up tone and style based on specific brand guidelines, the medical field is a whole new world of writing. Pharmaceutical products are highly regulated and all marketing must comply with their legal guidelines. These rules may vary from one company to another, but here are some general tips to make legal review go more smoothly for your pharma clients.
1. Do Your Research
Doctors shouldn’t be the only one who understand the product. As a copywriter, you need to know what you’re marketing, how it works, and why it’s needed. Start by checking out the company’s website, but don’t be afraid to do your own digging. You can even ask your client to recommend any books or journal articles that could help to explain the history and inner workings of the product. Just because you don’t have a medical degree doesn’t mean you aren’t able to grasp how a certain drug or tool works.
2. Don’t Promise
Pharmaceutical products can be tricky, since every patient has a different medical history that may affect the efficacy of a particular drug. For this reason, never use language that could promise any outcome, including seemingly inconsequential ones. For example, instead of describing a product that “will lower cholesterol,” let the audience know it “may lower cholesterol.” Instead of suggesting “you’ll be happy to know…” write “you may be happy to know…”
3. Cite Your Source
Because pharmaceutical products were developed through a series of rigorous experimental studies, their marketing must also rely on hard, scientific evidence. Make sure you back up any claim with a credible source. Ask your client which journals, foundations, or researchers they deem appropriate. Unsure of how to cite properly? Check out the American Medical Association (AMA) Style Guide.
4. Don’t Single Out Users
For good reasons, Facebook will not post content that may create a negative experience for the user. This includes anything that may appear to be airing out the personal attributes, or in this case medical history, of the audience. Because of this, your copywriting language cannot directly ask someone if they are experiencing symptoms associated with the condition your product aims to fix. Don’t let this restriction discourage you, though. Think of it as a new way to flex your creative writing muscles. Take a look at how Likeable Media has worked around this with their client, IBSchek.
Remember to discuss with your client for any other special cases their company might have. Good luck! One day you might even be able to pass legal review the first time around.