PhRMA's Equity Initiative: Q&A with Wallen Augustin of Artemis Ward

Wallen Augustin is a Senior Creative Strategist at Artemis Ward, a global digital-first agency that partners with brands, companies, and organizations - like PhRMA – to combine rigorous strategy and unbridled creativity to engage audiences. Artemis Ward supports PhRMA’s advocacy work across digital and has also taken on work around PhRMA’s Equity Initiative.

Wallen leads the PhRMA account, providing the strategic lens that includes supporting PhRMA’s paid and organic social media campaigns, email marketing programs, and the development of multi-channel creative assets.

Pharm Exec: Can you explain some trends we’re seeing in the industry that we can expect to see grow moving into 2022?

Wallen: We have been working with PhRMA for the last few years on PhRMA’s Equity Initiative, which aims to push for necessary systemic and long-term change to better meet the needs of Black and Brown America. The PhRMA Equity Initiative focuses on three pillars: health equity, clinical trials diversity, and talent. To help PhRMA accomplish their goals in each of these focus areas, we work with them on developing their digital strategy, overarching paid and organic social media campaigns, marketing assets like one-pagers and infographics, an event marketing website, and strategic visual branding, all of which serve as a comprehensive set of tools.

As we move forward into 2022, there is a new and refined interest in the intricacies of the biopharmaceutical industry. COVID-19 has highlighted the industry and further opened the door for curiosity and problem solving around demographic data, strategic gaps, and innovative solutions. There’s a younger generation now learning about the importance and production of life-saving medicines, learning more about clinical trials and what they mean for their communities, and they are thinking about the industry for their own careers. PhRMA is playing a key role in those conversations through their Equity Initiative.

How can the biopharmaceutical industry engage with this topic in a meaningful way?

We encourage all our partners to defy the laws of gravity to go wherever they may need to go. This is the way that we approach things at AW – using relentless rigor and embracing unapologetic curiosity to solve key problems.

Diversity is not a trend, and with the changing demographics of America, this focus on diverse communities is here to stay. What is trend-worthy is how different organizations have chosen to respond. I’ve been impressed with the authenticity PhRMA has brought to this effort. Their members developed Racial Justice Principles in the summer of 2020 and have held themselves to it. They’ve worked together as an industry on enhancing clinical trial diversity, including the voluntary development and adoption of Clinical Trial Diversity principles. They’ve connected hundreds of college students with companies seeking to learn more about the industry and the different types of opportunities that may be available.

I believe we’ll continue to see the positive impact of these efforts for years to come. AW is proud to be a part of this effort.

Explain some of the strategies that the PhRMA Equity Initiative is using to reach new audiences.

Last year, we helped PhRMA and several partner organizations host a graduate summit, which allows recent graduates and young professionals to connect with PhRMA member companies and learn more about what a career in the biopharmaceutical industry would look like. The summit was attended by over 600 participants representing over 220 schools. We built a robust social media campaign that focused heavily on LinkedIn and also leveraged an email marketing strategy to garner awareness of the event. We’re excited to build upon this work this year with some soon-to-be-launched platforms that connect emerging professionals with the industry. And of course, we’ll also cultivate a cohesive marketing strategy to make sure we’re able to build awareness around this new digital space.

What digital strategies do you recommend the industry try that you haven’t seen before, and why?

I would recommend utilizing videos early and often and leveraging social media to amplify them. Instagram recently announced that they will begin to prioritize video content over images, and other social media platforms are sure to continue this shift to video-based content as well. Plus, given that YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world, it should be a key component of any digital strategy.

Wallen Augustin is Senior Creative Strategist at Artemis Ward.