How video communications is helping AstraZeneca drive engagement and credibility

Approval of its COVID-19 vaccine is just one of the scenarios AstraZeneca has harnessed video with success

It was the announcement of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine being approved that really showcased the value of the pharmaceutical company’s investment into video.

“The vaccine approval was an event we knew was coming but we weren’t sure when the government would announce it. And we knew we needed to respond,” AstraZeneca Australia head of communications, Melissa Millard, told CMO.

“We’re bound by the Therapeutic Goods Act, which means we’re not allowed to communicate directly with the public about any of our medicines, including vaccines. However, when there are significant regulatory milestones, we are permitted to do something. This was clearly a significant regulatory milestone and important in light of the global pandemic.

“Today, everyone has an opinion on AstraZeneca and wants to ask about what is going on. We had to respond quickly to being in the public eye, not just with our key customers or doctors.”

Given such media and public interest, having a facility to give AstraZeneca’s country president, Liz Chatwin, the ability to respond quickly and professionally, was paramount. Video became the primary method of connecting with the Australian media and public following the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of the vaccine.

Millard’s team set up a meeting room as an in-house broadcast studio, commandeering an AstraZeneca media wall, lighting, sound equipment, mixer, camera operator and Zoom and holding a virtual press conference around the vaccine approval announcement. Communications revolved around one-to-one interviews.

Millard said it was the first time AstraZeneca had been able to use video to make important external connections. The set-up was backed by the pharmaceutical company’s investment into the Shootsta video editing and production platform.

“Things were happening so quickly. Doing a real-life conference is hard to do anyway, let alone during that time [of COVID-19 restrictions]. Getting media to one location is logistically challenging,” Millard said. “Developing something so professional with the help of Shootsta was so important. It wasn’t something we were thinking of even six months earlier.

“We could present a very professional image while doing those interviews… It was really important for us to showcase the company’s professionalism and be responsive to what media needed.”  

Building confidence in video

The Australian arm of AstraZeneca began using Shootsta back in 2018 in communications and marketing activities. It’s since been adopted by departments across the organisation including HR, sales, development and events.

Shootsta provides a tech platform and suite of apps and professional services to help scale video content. The business now operates in five markets – Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK and the US – and has 350 clients.

“As with lots of organisations, there was a lot of communication channels and opportunities to be talking to people, but it was difficult to get cut through,” Millard explained. “Sometimes, you’re trying to explain quite complex procedures, concepts or just information to groups of people, and it’s hard to do with an email. If you do a face-to-face, it can be difficult to ensure all have participated.

“By doing things on video, it’s made it much easier to get the same information out to everyone. We also we use Workplace as our key internal communications channel, which is like Facebook for work. Video lends itself well there too.”  

Some content is what Millard described as “quick and dirty” pieces people record on their own phones, using the Shootsta platform to edit and then upload. AstraZeneca also creates video with a far more professional approach, such as when its COVID-19 vaccine was approved in Australia, and which involved a Shootsta camera team.

“Having the ability to draw on Shootsta as a platform and mainly editing things ourselves through to full broadcast facilities, both in our office as well as out in the field, has been fantastic,” Millard said.  

From an internal engagement perspective, video is now servicing a key role in helping communicate news and innovations across the business, such as sharing information and celebrating achievements like diversity within AstraZeneca.

“It’s also been a good way of having people feel connected,” Millard continued. “People were scared of using video, worried about quality and doing it on their phones. Shootsta removed that fear factor and opened it up as a tool for so many more people - it means we get more participation from the organisation.”  

For example, Millard said a recent call out for a fundraising activity to support people with lung cancer saw staff doing a 30-second video challenge. Footage was then sliced into a video shared internally.

“Because people are so much more comfortable using their phones to record and know what the output looks like, we get greater participation across the workforce and that connecting and sharing across teams. It’s also great for training,” Millard said.  

Another key use case is enabling more enterprise awareness. With both a commercial business as well as manufacturing arm making respiratory medicines, video communications has become a mechanism delivering more interaction and understanding of experiences across divisions.

For Millard, democratising video is also a great skill to develop as a communications tool for every employee. “It’s the responsibility of everyone in the organisation, not just someone with communications in their title, to be communicating. Using this in cross-functional collaboration is key,” she said.

Measuring impact

Thanks to the unprecedented year experienced, acceptance of video content has accelerated with AstraZeneca’s core doctor customer base. “In the last 12-18 months, everyone has been communicating on a screen far more. As people become more used to seeing each other and themselves on a screen, it has also helped with acceptance of video as a far more common way of communicating on many levels,” Millard commented.  

Having had to adapt quickly to respond to the global pandemic, Millard said the last 12 months have not been a time for necessarily putting hard metrics in place around video adoption. But the scope of use was a key indicator of its impact, she said.

“Now that things are settled in some way, we can lift our heads up, look at how that has worked and what we want to take forward."

Millard also noted the value of data off the platform providing insights around what people have clicked on, what content is resonating, and the types of content they engage with the most. “That helps what informing our ongoing engagement strategy moving forward,” she said.  

Use cases continue to crop up. A key one for Millard is continuing to engage and educate healthcare professionals and provide information to the government to help with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout strategy. She also saw further opportunity to use video for communications around its medicines with healthcare professionals.

“We’re also looking at integrating video into how we tell patient stories, and raise awareness of the challenges people face, whether it’s services, better connectivity or access to medicines,” Millard said. “At AstraZeneca, we do a lot of work with directly with patient organisations and support them to tell stories within the organisation. But we haven’t done a lot of showcasing patient stories ourselves. That is something we are looking appropriately and sensitively.

“Video is such a great way of emotively sharing share their story and impact on them. It is something other pharmaceutical companies have been doing for some time.

“And it’s about enabling that engagement more broadly across the organisation. Giving people the comfort to share anything on video, whether it’s a presentation or conversation or bringing their personal lives into the mix, is giving people more confidence and a nice opportunity to connect better as employees. That’s been such a critical consideration in the last year.”

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here. 

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page


Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts

What are Chris Riddell's qualifications to talk about technology? What are the awards that Chris Riddell has won? I cannot seem to find ...


Digital disruption isn’t disruption anymore: Why it’s time to refocus your business

Read more



CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...


The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in