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What's your brand?

Do you think about the message your pharmacy is projecting? The most effective PR is the service you deliver, says Jennifer Richardson

What do you see when you look in the mirror? No, not that latest grey hair or wrinkle... Businessman or professional? Salesperson or pharmacist? Chances are, particularly if you are a contractor as well as a pharmacist, the honest answer is a bit of both. In addition, the debate that still takes place almost constantly on the C+D website – between readers who believe in developing community pharmacy's service offering and those who emphasise the inherent value in the supply function – shows that there is still discord among the sector about the message we should be promoting. So there are significant challenges to MedicX Pharmacy's Gavin Birchall's ambition to develop a strong, consistent brand for the whole of community pharmacy.

The most effective PR is the service you deliver

Nonetheless, it's a laudable aim. Pharmacists already have an excellent understanding of the power of brands: just think of that customer who always insists on buying Nurofen tablets no matter how many times you tell him that generic ibuprofen does the same thing for much less. The Co-operative Pharmacy is just the latest pharmacy company to recognise this power with investment, in its ongoing exercise to test four potential brands on patients and staff following its buyout by Bestway earlier this month. Similarly, every pharmacist can think about the message his/her own pharmacy is projecting. It's not just about expensive and intensive rebranding exercises; consultant Claire Salmons offers six simple steps to a successful PR campaign that even a single-site business can follow. Furthermore, the most effective PR is the service you deliver. I once heard RPS president Ash Soni say: "You're only as good as the last patient you served." By which he means that there is nothing more powerful than a patient saying: "I saw my pharmacist about that and he gave me really good advice – you should go and see your pharmacist about it, too." And to consistently deliver great service you need great people with the right skills for the job, something C+D has recognised with the addition of a Training and Development Award to the categories for the C+D Awards 2015. Don't forget to enter, and in June you could be adding "award-winning" to the image your pharmacy projects to your patients – and to the one looking back at you in the mirror.

Jennifer Richardson, Editor [email protected], @CandDJennifer

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