Multi-Party Communications

Multi-Party Communications: Four Keys for Success

As life science companies continue the trend toward partnerships, communications challenges can multiply.  Partnerships help companies to enter new markets, continue niche research and introduce innovations sooner. But even though they are joining forces, each company will have a unique, and sometimes competing, set of communications and business goals.

While it’s easy to default to the needs of the larger company, strategic communications entails finding ways to balance the needs of all parties.  A solid communications strategy conveys a clear and consistent message to stakeholders of all companies in the partnership, and also paves the way for patients, advocacy groups, media and investors to learn more.

The following are four key issues to consider for multi-party communications:

  • Audience Identification: Ensure that both companies clearly establish the key stakeholders for their news, as well as the appropriate digital, print and broadcast media.
  • Consistent Messaging: While the key messages should be tailored to each company’s audience, the underlying theme must be determined up-front and in conjunction with both parties, to ensure there are no surprises in how each are represented to various stakeholder audiences.
  • Internal Communications: Coordinating among internal parties is key.  The science, strategy and financials must be in internal alignment.  Therefore the process for developing expectations and timelines goes a long way toward ensuring a smooth liftoff.
  • External/Social Media Communications: Develop specialized pitches whenever possible. While based on similar underlying message, the outreach should be tailorable to the varying kinds of media outlets each company seeks to attract.  Identify and train key spokespeople in advance so they are at-the-ready for media outreach.  Consider videos and/or podcasts that may be uploaded to social media, and monitor discussion across both companies’ social channels.

The idea of coordinating communications between partners can be daunting.  But with the right preparation and forethought, it can be an exciting time for a strategic communications program to cultivate trust with each company, and deliver results that meet the needs of all parties.

An in-depth version of this article was featured in O’Dwyer’s October 2017 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine.

ABCs of 13F Filings

Adding, Balancing and Comparing Insights

As we near 45 days post quarter-end, it’s time to prepare for 13F filings, the stock ownership reports filed by institutional investors. While it is easy enough to access 13F data, the challenge is how to add value by combining market intelligence, company insight and competitor understanding into your 13F analyses. Here are our ABCs for adding, balancing and comparing 13F insights.

Add insight gleaned from market intelligence activities

One of the keys to adding value with market intelligence is to ensure you’ve been capturing investor interactions throughout the quarter.  These notes, ideally one or two sentences about the investor and three to five bullets on topics that were covered, can then be tied to changes in ownership. Perhaps someone with whom you met in January is now initiating a position in the September 13F filing period. Or a position is being trimmed and from the investor database you see the portfolio manager has moved to another firm.  Tying on-the-ground insights with on-line data provides important nuances that add value to the company’s future investor relations activities.

Balance news events

The reasons underlying every investment vary – with decisions driven by a blend of quantitative financial performance and investment thesis, and qualitative announcements and news.  Make sure you pull all the releases from the past quarter and conduct a thorough, unbiased assessment on the impact of these announcements on the investment community.  Understand investors’ perception on the company’s recent news and you’ll have a better idea about what’s happening behind the numbers.

Compare competitive position changes

There are hidden gems in every corner of the 13 filings.  This includes buying and selling of your peer companies’ stock.  Perhaps a shareholder has trimmed a position in your company, and has also trimmed positions in your peers.  Or conversely, has a shareholder trimmed a position in your company but doubled down on a peer?  This type of comparative analysis allows for a 360° view of stock ownership and can be used to target the next generation of shareholder as new investors of competitor companies can be added to your target outreach list.

In sum, by adding insights, balancing news events and comparing peer’s positions, 13F data can move beyond a simple ownership review with added value for ongoing IR activities.

Nothing Succeeds Like… Moderation?

Five Fundamentals on Moderating a Panel

Speaking gigs are a true sign of success. You have been recognized as a key opinion leader in your field and you have been asked to share your knowledge and insight. But what about moderating a panel? This too is an acknowledgement of industry leadership. As such, it is a role for which you should be well prepared to ensure the audience benefits from the combined expertise and experience of the moderator and the panelists. Here are 5 fundamentals for moderating excellence.

Know your panelists: Know your panelists individually and as a group. Don’t just scan through their LinkedIn page – understand what their company does, what their job entails and past experience in the field. Conduct an introductory call with the panelists to pressure test topics and ensure there is a good mix of opinions and insights.

Don’t ask the same question of each panelist: The audience does not want to sit through panelists regurgitating information about the same question. Use your research to help generate questions for specific panelists. Some panelists will have drug development expertise and others will have insights into commercialization. Some will be in markets or indications that overlap, and others will not. Target these overlaps and differences to optimize the questions you ask.

Be an active listener: Take notes. Revisit the most important topics that created great conversation and debate. As a moderator, you can bring another perspective by using a third-party reference. For example, “That’s an interesting point Speaker B just made. However, there’s another school of thought that was covered recently in the media. Speaker A, can you comment?” Of course, as an active listener you can also reinforce a point. “That’s an interesting point Speaker B just made and one that was covered recently in the media. Speaker A, can you comment?” Active listening allows you to engage the audience by challenging some points of view and reinforcing others.

Be a mindful timekeeper: Timekeeping is an important task for the moderator. It is your role to lead an engaging conversation within a pre-specified amount of time. Make sure to save some time at the end for audience questions, but not so much that the onus is on them to keep the session going. And don’t hold the audience hostage beyond the allotted time. Your role is to alert the panelists and the audience as the clock winds down. Be prepared to say, “We have time for one more question.”

Have a closing statement: Having alerted the room that the session is coming to an end, make sure you’ve saved a few minutes for closing remarks. Use the notes that you have taken throughout to leave the audience with 3 – 5 takeaways from the panel discussion. A strong close will ensure the audience leaves with an appreciation for the knowledge and expertise not only of the panelists, but also the moderator.

August is…. READER’S CHOICE

Catch up on some of your favorite LaVoieHealthScience blogs! They include, Infographics: No Longer If, But HowHow and When to Build a Board and Paper or Pixels? We’ll Take Both.

Infographics: No Longer If, But How

Infographics are no longer “if we have the time and budget,” but “how do we make ours inform and engage.” Engagement is increased markedly if a picture is included.  We took a deeper dive on why, which and how to use infographics.

How and When to Build a Board: A Primer for Emerging Companies

How many people, when to recruit and what kind of strategy to build a board for an emerging health science company?  We surveyed a few trusted board members  for advice on when to build a board, how to select board members and what size board to consider.

Paper or Pixels? We’ll Take Both

It’s one thing to be environmentally conscious, but another to give a presentation without any hard copy collateral. Read our thoughts on using a single-page fact sheet or copy of the slides to support the real-time presentation.

We hope you find these informational and fun to read! Visit our blog page here for other strategic communications insights.

You Say News Log, I Say Web Blog

We’ve been noodling about press releases and news lately – not just obvious, material news like quarterly financials or clinical data, but “almost” news like attendance at an invitation-only conference or re-appointment as an adjunct professorship.  “Obvious” news goes out on the wire as a press release, and is then posted to a company’s News page.  But what about less obvious news?  While there may not be a clear-cut need for a press release, there is a strong rationale for posting “lowercase” news on your company News page.  To be clear, publicly traded companies must disclose material news in a full-disclosure manner.  But both public and private companies may have lesser news that they choose to share.

The company News page: Your News page is akin to a blog that visitors can view for an “at-a-glance” understanding of the company’s activity. This channel can be used to share information that visitors would be interested in learning – for example, an op-ed penned by a member of the management team.   In other words, consider extending the use of your News page beyond that of a repository for wire service press releases.

Social media:  While social media allows for ongoing news distribution, the various channels are less helpful for “at-a-glance” insight due to limits on individual posts, yet unlimited cumulative posts.  Because traditional media came first, it is now a habit at most companies to pull press releases through their social channels.   There is an opportunity, however, to consider pulling some of the content from your social channels through to your News page.

Wire service press release:  When a piece of news is released over a wire service, a company believes that this is material information.  There is normally time, resources and a process in place for this type of news.  But utilizing an all-or-nothing, “it’s a press release or it’s not news” mindset can create an unnatural limit on what visitors to your News page can learn.

Providing up-to-date information is crucial to keeping your audiences in the loop.  While not all news may be worthy of wide distribution, providing updates on an ongoing basis is not only suitable, but also desirable.  Think broadly about your News page, as it can be used for wire service press releases and more, filling the role of an ongoing, cumulative forum for the company’s activities.

Sometimes News Doesn’t Just Happen

Sometimes news happens – you have pipeline, product or partner news.  Other times there is less obvious news to share, but there are still activities underway.  For those in between times, there are a number of techniques we can use to uncover “lurking” items for our clients:

Newsjacking:  The David Meerman Scott concept of capitalizing on current, trending news items and associating a product, service, or client with that news.  The keys to news jacking are speed, and having the instincts to not only know what’s hot, but also what’s appropriate for your client or brand.  It might be as simple as providing reporters with a medical professional who can speak to the illness diagnosis of a famous celebrity, but the result is that your client is riding on the crest of someone else’s wave.

Data:  If there is one item that biotech and pharma clients tend to have in spades, it is data.  And that’s good, because bylines, white papers and infographics are excellent execution tactics, and they usually start with interesting data.  Perhaps a client’s data shows that its signature product has an unintended benefit beyond the problem it was built to solve.  Package up that data in the most appropriate form, and carefully determine whether to release it in peer review at a medical meeting and in which forum.

Events:  Developing a special “one-time” event is another way to keep a brand in the public eye.  If there is a gap in a client’s news flow, fill it by creating a simple, catchy event to generate buzz. If everything breaks right, like it did for the ALS foundation’s “Ice Bucket Challenge,” it can go viral and drive awareness for days, weeks or even months!

Having important news to share certainly makes the job easier, but not every day is going to be packed with breaking announcements, product or platform launches, or key new hires to share. Developing a rhythm of interspersing content in between key news items is critical to ensuring a continuous flow of news for your client or brand.

Infographics: No Longer If, But How

Infographics are no longer “if we have the time and budget,” but “how do we make ours inform and engage.” Engagement is increased markedly if a picture is included.  Content that includes images produces 6 times more engagement than text-only posts.  Infographics add engagement, impact and clarity to the information you are presenting.

What Are Infographics.  An infographic is a way to visually represent information or data.  In the simplest form, data plus pictures equals infographic. With a minimalist design and a simplified concept, infographics can translate scientific data, represent market need and/or demonstrate strategy.   In short, infographics are tools to communicate information.

Why Use Infographics.  Infographics lower barriers.  With information overload an ongoing challenge, infographics offer an efficient use of the audience’s time.   We are visual beings that are much more likely to be captivated by images instead of text paragraphs. When it comes to remembering large amounts of information, we tend to remember it better when it is displayed visually.

Which Information to Include.    Infographics can include science, market and/or strategy.  For example, an infographic can be used to convey an indication, market size, geographic reach, products and/or pipeline. In terms of the format, use four or five illustrations with appropriate captions.  Remember, just as too many words can overwhelm a written piece, too many graphics can sink an infographic.  The goal is to communicate information, using the least number of words.

How to Use.  Infographics can accompany press releases, articles, fact sheets, social media posts and more. Infographics boost comprehension, have viral potential, offer engagement and easier data presentation.

Still not convinced?  For our client LEO Science & Tech Hub, a company exploring cutting-edge science and technology opportunities with relevance for dermatology, we used an infographic as part of a press release resulting in 2,113 views. For our client Oticon, launching an innovative hearing device, we developed an infographic that helped secure a front page spot on USA Today.

Visuals are a welcome addition to text.  If you want to engage with an audience and lower communication barriers, infographics are a smart “how to.”

 

After the Conference: Four Fundamental Follow-Throughs

Conferences are all-important opportunities for in-person conversations with investors, partners, prospects and others. Gearing up, scheduling meetings and ensuring up-to-date materials can absorb a lot of bandwidth in advance of the conference itself. However, unless you commit to spending an equal amount of time after the conference to follow through, the time spent up front will not have the intended impact.

Here are the four fundamental follow-throughs after a conference:

Make a Record of Important Conversations. Whether this is the first meeting, or another in a continued dialogue, make a record of the conversation. The record does not need to be a one-page document a
nd in fact is best as a summary. We recommend an introductory sentence, “First-time meeting with Taylor, holds position in PeerCo.” Then one or two bullets, “Will continue to monitor OurCo, in particular interested in pipeline.” With the final bullet summarizing next steps, “Make sure to reach out for next West Coast trip.”

Follow through on Commitments. Did you promise to make an introduction? Send a scientific study? Promises are meant to be kept. Jot down all deliverables in real time to ensure follow-through upon return to the office. Once back at your desk, ensure commitments are made within a reasonable time frame. That doesn’t necessarily mean the very next day as the other conference attendees are similarly re-engaging in their day-to-day work, but within a period commensurate with the request.

Stay Connected and Monitor News. Staying connected does not always mean sending a specific follow-up. Rather, it can mean noting a future conference at which you will connect, following the company for news and/or making a social media connection through Twitter or LinkedIn as appropriate.

Capture Insights into the Event. Make sure you write down anything you wish you had known prior to the conference as well as things you would have done differently. You may think you’ll remember next year, but you won’t. Was the conference productive? Do you want to participate again next year? Maybe you missed an early bird registration and/or were shut out of a favored hotel? These are all good notes to ensure you are prepared for the following year.

Sure, the pre-conference activities are important to ensure a successful trip, but don’t take your foot off the pedal once you return to the office. Commit to spend time after the conference to optimize the value of your on-site presence.

And the Winner is…. The Value of Awards

Did you watch the Academy Awards?  Regardless, I bet you know that Moonlight (eventually) won best picture and Emma Stone won best actress.   While accepting a health science award may not offer the same red carpet experience and drama, the opportunity for recognition is one that should not be overlooked.  As such, we recommend life and health science companies take the time to identify and apply for applicable awards.

Tangible recognition.  Winning an award is a tangible recognition of a company’s expertise.  As such, awards provide independent validation of a company’s credibility and work.   While some awards are initiated by third parties, others are awards for which you can submit on your own behalf.  In either case, an award can provide credibility and visibility in a crowded marketplace. Also, winning an award can be important not just for external audiences, but also for employees, partners and investors.

The award landscape.  There are an array of honors offering different types of recognition for different work. There are awards that recognize commercial success and others that celebrate pre-clinical development work.  There are also awards that celebrate innovation or scientific advancement. While some are general health science industry awards, others focus on categories such as biotech or biopharma.  Important too, some recognize the work of a specific person such as the Chief Scientific Officer.  Some recognize emerging companies, or even companies in emerging markets while other awards recognize market leading research.

Reap the reward.  While some awards are initiated by the grantor, many more require an application by the company.  Therefore implementing a good award program – planning, preparing and applying – can be a valuable addition to your company’s strategic communications program.

Spread the word.  Once you’ve brought home the honor, don’t forget to spread the word.  This includes everything from placement of the award in a prominent location to issuing a press release and ensuring distribution across social media channels.  While you may not get to walk the red carpet, awards can offer a valuable opportunity to extend credibility, raise visibility and ultimately contribute to business success.

LaVoieHealthScience helps advance health and science innovations. We have 16 years’ experience of specialized thinking and delivering strategic communications. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.

So Many Data Slides, So Little Time

We see a lot of scientific data slides – data on animal studies, MOAs, clinical data and more. Alas, with so many data slides, the impact can get subsumed. Audiences are interested in the underlying science or clinical trials, but they’re also interested in the overarching story – what is the problem being solved, why is this an important problem, what expertise does the company bring? With these questions in mind, we offer the following tips for turning data deluge into descriptive data.

Animal Data: Animal data can be compelling, especially for certain indications where there are good animal models. That said, we suggest no more than two showing the data itself, then move on to putting the science in context – the problem being solved and the advantage your company brings.

Mechanism of Action: Our best advice for MOA?  Consider using simple graphics or an animation. Use the fewest data slides you can. Don’t try to tell the audience everything you want them to know. Rather, what is it they cannot forget. Any additional data can go in an optional appendix.

Disease Data: There are two types of disease data: data that defines the scope of the problem being solved, and data that helps explain the nature of the disease being studied. When considering which slides to include in a presentation, first take into account the message to be conveyed – do you need a data slide to define the scope? Maybe an at-a-glance number will do. As to the disease itself, this may best be conveyed with pictures.

Clinical Trials: Clinical trial data is of great interest. The challenge is deciding how much data to present and in which format.  In terms of how much data, we recommend tailoring to the audience. Obviously, if you’re meeting with the head of clinical development from large pharma who is contemplating partnership, more data will be required. But, for other audiences, tailor to their needs. In terms of format, beware the tendency to use too-small, indecipherable graphs. As noted above, focus on what it is that the audience must remember. What do you want to ensure they take away from the clinical trial output.

Data slides are important, but not at the expense of losing the audience in an abundance of scientific statistics. The strategy, mission, plan and people are also important inputs.If you focus on the big picture and ensure data slides are an important element, rather than the reigning role, your company story will be more memorable.

LaVoieHealthScience provides strategic communications, investor relations and public relations to build recognition, increase sales and value for health science innovations. Contact us at info@lavoiehealthscience.com to learn more.