How to Write Content for Regulated Industries (Including Pharma and Healthcare)

It can be a challenge to create compelling and engaging content in regulated industries like pharma and healthcare, as we must comply with regulations that could be perceived as hampering our creativity or limiting possibilities, due to strict guidelines. 

However, it is crucial that we shift our mindset to work with regulatory bodies and develop good relationships with them, rather than getting caught up in perceptions of conflict and restriction. Building positive interpretations of guidelines that exist to keep consumers safe is essential, and learning to work within them is a skill that can be built and continuously improved.

John Forth’s talk at BrightonSEO 2024 addressed this topic perfectly, outlining six simple steps that can be taken towards creating great content that is also compliant with regulations.

Content within this post is taken from John Forth’s “Creating Compelling Content in Regulated Industries” talk at Brighton SEO 2024.

Know Your Regulators

The first step is to get to know the key regulators in your specific industry. Often there are many (for different products, locations, etc.) so make sure you do your research to understand exactly which regulatory guidelines you will need to know about.

For example, within the Pharmaceutical industry the UK has to comply with the MHRA, Europe with the EMA, and the US with the FDA and USP.  It is also beneficial to consult with regulators regularly, keeping up to date on any guideline updates to stay ahead of the curve.

Understand Why Regulations Are In Place

It is tempting to think that guidelines are imposed to stop you doing business or creating content as you wish, but this is a very simplified view of the matter. Regulators do not want to prevent quality content from going to market, and guidelines are a necessity to ensure the right thing is done for everyone involved (particularly customers). We all want to keep everyone safe and happy, and guidelines exist for this very purpose.

Match Your Content To The Topic

When writing content for regulated industries the aim is often to build confidence in clients who want reassurance, as this content often deals with important, high-stakes, or complicated topics. It is important to understand a client’s concerns and match the tone and content of your copy to these, providing support and quality information in a clear and accessible manner.

As a starting point for writing content consider the core queries clients may have (even if they don’t ask!) – for example:

  • What are the costs and benefits of this service or product?
  • What is the commitment? Is this flexible?
  • What are the risks of using this service or product?
  • Do I fully understand the implications of going forward with this service or product?
  • What kind of service level or support will I receive moving forward?

As an initial exercise, create a list of potential user questions (even better if this is based on data) and answer them – you won’t go far wrong in your content!

Build Relationships Between The Right Teams

Often within organisations those who focus on content creation and those who deal with legal regulations are far separated, and feedback loops and distance between teams lead to confusion. Building direct relationships and lines of communication between relevant teams will help to avoid this, ensuring everyone is on the same page and minimising delays caused by miscommunications and repeated revisions.

Reframe “Warnings” As Product Features (How To Put A Positive Spin On Negative Content)

It can be tricky to deal with disclaimers, warnings, and risks when creating healthcare or pharmaceutical content – we don’t want to highlight negative attributes and create feelings of worry, but these are important to include nonetheless. Instead, aim to work such “negative” content into your copy in a smarter way. Below are a few examples;

  • Avoid symbols with clear negative associations like “✖” or “🚫”
  • Avoid making copy too dry, it is best to match the tone of the rest of your site or content
  • Don’t split positives and negatives (e.g. benefits and drawbacks) into two separate sections, incorporate them both into one flowing body of content to minimise the distinction
  • Try to frame things positively where possible to empower consumer choice

Don’t Lose Sight Of The Fundamentals

As a final point, it is important to remember to approach content creation in any industry with the same levels of enthusiasm and research. Often we can get so caught up in what we are or aren’t allowed to do we stray away from the fundamentals of good content creation. Remember to keep your content clear, fair, and non- misleading, and follow the same quality standards you would expect from any piece of content.

Need Help With Writing Content For The Pharma or Healthcare Industries?

Varn Health are experts at creating content for regulated industries within the pharmaceutical and healthcare umbrella, ensuring quality and engaging content that complies with regulatory guidelines.

Get in touch with our Varn Health team to find out more.

Article by:
Search Marketing Executive
More articles by Jordana

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