CMI Media Group launches new practice to help pharma reach out to diverse audiences

Healthcare marketing firm CMI Media Group is launching a new inclusive media practice to help pharma and healthcare companies reach out to diverse and underserved patient groups.

The Inclusive Media Center of Excellence comes as the pharma industry has stepped up efforts over the last two years to tackle health inequities laid bare and exacerbated by the pandemic.

With new technology that is allowing brands to target messaging to specific audiences like never before, there’s a big opportunity for pharma to be more inclusive and equitable in its messaging, said Justin Freid, CMI’s chief media and innovation officer. 

Although an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion has long been part of the agency’s ethos, CMI said it has spent the last two years developing and honing an inclusive media approach that includes “audience intelligence, message resonation, partner selection and pull-through via an omnichannel approach.”

The agency is launching the center now to expand and formalize those efforts as it heads into the media planning process for 2023, said Freid. The center will be involved in the planning and then deployed based on need and client interest. 

Part of its role will be examining barriers to healthcare that marginalized patients can experience. For example, diseases sometimes present differently in certain ethnic groups than they do in the broader population, so members of those communities may not benefit from awareness campaigns directed to a wider audience, Freid explained. Meanwhile, doctors may not diagnose diseases in those groups as readily because the symptoms are different, he said, so there’s an opportunity for more HCP education.

“We’re trying to truly understand who the audience is, not just their ailments or their disease and how it affects their daily life, but how they are as a whole person,” said Freid. “As we started to look through that lens we found a lot of different opportunities to communicate better, to communicate differently or even to communicate to certain audiences that we may have been ignoring, or not prioritizing.” 

Freid saw the need firsthand when members of his own family were diagnosed with a rare genetic disease that tends to be more prevalent among Asians.

“Having gone through the experience of trying to find information about this disease, there’s not a lot out there,” Fried explained, whose wife is Cambodian. He remembers thinking that pharma could do a lot more to raise awareness in the Cambodian and broader Asian community about the symptoms of the condition, so patients could be identified earlier and get on treatment that could potentially extend their lives.

“We have an opportunity to do more and do good and to help these individuals,” he added. “That’s why a lot of us are in this business.”