A clear vision for the value communicators bring to the table is more important than ever. Javier Boix, Head of U.S. Communications at AbbVie, shared with us his perspective on brand communications, the role data can play, and how brands can lend their voice to conversations on social justice and beyond.

How did you get where you are in your career today?

My career has been unplanned and unexpected. But looking back I see a common denominator: a willingness to take on new challenges without second guessing myself too much as to how prepared I was to meet (or exceed) expectations—and then trusting that I’d figure it out.

How have you seen content and communications evolve?

Twenty years ago, communications was much more an art than a science. Today, it’s quite the opposite. The advent of data usage and the ability to translate data into actionable insights aligns our work closer to science than ever. That’s the most significant evolution communications is going through.

Has content measurement become important?

Measurement has historically been communications’ Achilles heel. The company that best aligns organizational structure and mindset with the insights-content-engagement-measurement continuum will excel at driving brand reputation, relevance, and preference. And that tells you how important the role of analytics and measurement in communications is nowadays.

Is there anything in your experience where you wish your brand or your industry had done something differently?

I believe in the power of looking ahead to shape future events in a way that reflects learnings from past events. I am particularly proud of how the pharmaceutical industry has stepped up to tackle COVID-19 and how we’ve begun addressing long overdue racial injustice issues. However, it’s unfortunate that such tragic events needed to happen for society to realize the value and positive impact the pharmaceutical industry can have.

What do you think the role of public affairs is in commercial organizations?

I see the value that Public Affairs can bring in three different ways:

  1. Gaining  constant perspective from inside and outside the company by consistently consuming news, staying attuned to trends, listening to the business, and  deeply understanding your brand. This perspective translates into a unique  point of view that shapes strategy and informs action.    
  1. Becoming the connectors at the intersection of brand story, corporate reputation, external environment, and patient needs, which helps create relevant, empathetic, and powerful brand connections that enable patients to be seen and empowered.
  1. Delivering storytelling that matters and moving patients to better health by leveraging  data and turning it into actionable insights.

What have you learned from COVID-19?

You are never prepared enough for what the future has in store.

What have you learned about racial justice issues in recent months?

We can’t stop until every single Black member of our community and any other underrepresented individual is treated equally and respectfully across the country.

Do you think it’s important for brands to take a stance on social issues?

Brands do not and cannot live in a bubble. The more they demonstrate their commitment to societal issues in a thoughtful and responsible fashion, the more relevant they become. However, this commitment needs to be authentic, and brands need to deliver on it.

What advice do you have for global brands as they try to determine what needs to be said right now?

Know who you are and the value you can provide. Know what others want to hear, and thoughtfully align those two to find the common ground that ignites action. When it comes to telling your story, I abide by the, “show, don’t tell” approach. Actions speak louder than a thousand words; your brand does not need to be the hero of the story. Let what you make possible speak for you.

What opportunities are available to brands during this important time? How can we shed light on this?

There are more opportunities than ever for brands. And it’s more than just an opportunity based on one specific social event. We can create opportunities based on a long-term vision and its execution. Going back to analytics, I believe strategically investing in data and insight generation can set the foundation for our work as communicators. This will then allow brands to increase their relevancy among consumers.

What do you believe the role of content & communications is during this time?

Content and communications can bring in an informed perspective—operating at the intersection of brand, patient, and environment to deliver insights-driven storytelling that engages consumers authentically. That is our role as communicators.

What’s the most important thing readers should know?

The modern communicator in the biopharmaceutical world is an informed, reputation-minded leader with strong business acumen. This communicator operates at the intersection of brand, patient, and environment, and drives insights-driven storytelling to authentically engage consumers.