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.

One Great Day, Two Great San Diego Workshops

Monday, June 19; One Great Day, Two Great San Diego Workshops

Tales from the Biotech/Medtech Road and 15 Slides to Glory

Angus McQuilken, Vice President for Public Affairs, will be moderating a panel on June 19 at 9:00 am PT, Tales from the Road, at Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI), San Diego.  The panel will feature four life science entrepreneurs who will share their experience with fundraising. The panel will focus on tactics, and the audience will leave with new tools and information to help them along with their own fundraising efforts. The panel includes Magda Marquet, Chairman & Co-Founder, AltheaDx; Michael Tippie, CEO, Lipidomics; Mike Moradi, Co-Founder & CEO, Sensulin; Joyce Lonergan, Founder & CEO, Mellitus.

Donna LaVoie, President & CEO, will be hosting a workshop on June 19 at 2:30 pm PT at BIO International in San Diego, “15 Slides to Glory: How to Create Your Company Presentation.” It will cover how to create an essential company presentation in just 15 slides. Attendees will participate in an interactive session to learn about the basics of effective public speaking, including the importance of avoiding information overload.  As preparation for this session, please download, read, and fill out, the brief worksheet linked below on “Creating Your Elevator Pitch,” the first essential part of crafting effective presentation slides. This session will include audience members sharing their elevator pitches and getting live feedback on which elements work well and which need improvement. WORKSHEET LINK:


Donna L. LaVoie to Deliver Workshop at BIO International on the LHS 15-Slide Presentation™

Donna L. LaVoie to Deliver Workshop at BIO International on the LHS 15-Slide Presentation™

How to Develop a Corporate Presentation in Just 15 Slides

Boston – June 5, 2017 – Donna L. LaVoie, president and CEO of LaVoieHealthScience (LHS), an award-winning integrated strategic communications agency focused on health and life science, will be presenting at BIO International in San Diego on June 19 at 2:30 p.m. PT. Donna will be delivering a workshop, “15 Slides to Glory: How to Create your Company Presentation,” the LHS trademarked process of creating a corporate deck in just fifteen slides.

“I am very happy to return to BIO International to lead this workshop on developing key message pillars to engage with stakeholders,” she said. “To run your business successfully you need clear and concise messaging, and the LHS 15-Slide Presentation™ helps to do just that.”

The BIO International Convention is hosted by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

LaVoieHealthScience has worked with BIO to develop a thought leadership series of videos on public speaking covering The LHS 15-Slide Presentation™, Public Speaking Strategies for the CEO and Creating Your Elevator Pitch. More information on this series can be found here.

About LaVoieHealthScience
LaVoieHealthScience provides strategic communications, investor relations and public relations to build recognition and increase sales and value for health science innovations to improve humankind. The agency has received 28 awards over the past seven years in recognition of the work it has done for its health and science industry-leading clients. The agency ranks among the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies and among the Top 30 Independent Healthcare Firms as ranked by O’Dwyer’s PR.


Beth Kurth
Vice President, Investor Relations
617-374-8800 x106

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.

LaVoieHealthScience Announces New PR Clients to its Roster

BOSTON, MA – March 23, 2017LaVoieHealthScience (LHS), an integrated investor and public relations agency focused on advancing health and science innovations, today announced it has signed new clients to its public relations client roster including BioAxone BioSciences, Inc.,

 “Our passion is to represent true innovators in the health and science fields,” said Donna L. LaVoie, President and CEO, LaVoieHealthScience.  “Our client companies are led by scientific and business visionaries who are shaping the way patients will be treated and making difference in healthcare delivery. We are delighted to expand our reach in biotechnology, medical device, and medical technology.” 

LaVoieHealthScience is leading a full array of integrated communications for these new clients including LHS Immersion®, The LHS Fifteen Slide Presentation®,  investor and corporate communications, investor and business development access, local and national media relations, digital and content development, thought leadership as well as social engagement programs.  The companies’ expertise includes:

  • BioAxone BioSciences, Cambridge, MA is committed to applying a deep understanding of  axon regeneration and neuronal signaling pathways to transform the lives of patients afflicted with neurotrauma or neurovascular disorder.
  • MicroPort Orthopedics, Burlington, MA,  is a medical device company that develops and manufactures knee and hip implants designed to help patients achieve full function faster. 
  • Major global pharmaceutical company, Cambridge MA, is exploring cutting-edge science and technology opportunities with relevance for dermatology.

About LaVoieHealthScience
LaVoieHealthScience partners with leading life science brands to build value for their companies, attract capital and reach key stakeholders through integrated communications and marketing. The firm provides strategic communications, investor relations and public relations to build recognition and increase sales and value for health science innovations. The agency has received 28 awards over the past seven years in recognition of the work it has done for its health and science industry-leading clients.  In addition to clients listed above, LaVoieHealthScience represents leaders such as Cydan Development, Imara, NewLink Genetics, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Newron Pharmaceuticals, Origenis, and other emerging health and science companies.

Beth Kurth
Vice President, Investor Relations
617 374 8800, x106

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.

Spotlight: Q&A with Michael Almstetter, CEO, Origenis

Michael Almstetter, CEO
Michael Almstetter, CEO

Q: What does Origenis do?
A: Origenis is creating small molecule drugs capable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier and therefore treating neurodegenerative diseases – commonly known as Central Nervous System, or CNS, diseases. Our technology-based drug design process develops faster, more specific compounds. I am pleased to note our platform has been validated through internal projects and external partners, and has yielded several patented drug candidates now in late stage clinical development since its application in 2005.

Q: What was your inspiration for founding Origenis? What do you hope to achieve?
A: Our goal is to fight neurodegeneration by breaking the vicious cycle that contributes to CNS diseases. That cycle includes microglia activation, which leads to neuro-inflammation, and then cell death, in turn contributing to microglia activation and so on. By inhibiting any of these phases of the cycle, Origenis can help regarding several chronic and acute neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia and Multiple Sclerosis as well as Traumatic Brain Injury and Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy.

Q: How does Origenis’ drug discovery platform work?
A: Origenis drug discovery platform has four major pillars: MOREsystem®, MolMind®, and Cippix® represent the proprietary technologies for the fast identification, seamless optimization and efficient synthesis of patentable new chemical entities. The pharmacological efficacy of our compounds is assessed and optimized with BRAINstorm™, the key technology for generating and optimizing brain penetrating compounds at Origenis.

Q: Sounds interesting, is there a competitive advantage?
A: Absolutely! With our leveraging unique chemistry capabilities we provide continual IP-protected new chemical entities. Our unique drug discovery process allows a faster and more specific development of compounds and delivers de-risked new chemical entities for partners, and of course for ourselves. As noted earlier, our platform has been validated not only through internal projects, but also with external partners and has yielded several patented drug candidates.

Q: Can you give us insight into current projects?
A: Origenis develops several, distinct small molecule drugs, which nicely cross the blood brain barrier with no need for a special formulation. These drugs act highly specifically on selected protein kinases responsible for microglia activation, neuronal cell death and neuroinflammation.

Our front-runner is our LRRK2 (Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2) therapeutic program. Inhibition of LRRK2 results in a significant decrease in neuronal damage. This opens the avenue for a first disease-modifying treatment in the field of Parkinson’s disease. Our LRRK2 lead drug candidate has outstanding compound properties in terms of potency and selectivity and an execellent brain penetration and PK profle. It should be mentioned that we were the first company to show in-vivo efficacy in an acute neuroegeneration model with our brain available LRRK2 inhibitor.

In addition to the therapeutic programs, Origenis also develops specific PET tracers – necessary tools to translate preclinical compounds into clinical drugs. These PET tracers are a huge strategic advantage in this highly competitive field. Origenis 18F-radiolabelled LRRK2-specific PET tracer, the only one available in the world. This represents the key differentiator in the LRRK2 field and opens a range of partnering and licensing options.

Q: Why is there so much excitement about LRRK2?
A: Two words: science and impact. There is now a deeper understanding of the science and a broader understanding of the impact. In terms of science, a mutation in LRRK2 has been identified as a genetic marker for Parkinson’s disease. In terms of the impact, we have people like Michael J. Fox who has the disease, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin who has the marker. Thus there is more interest from foundations, big pharma and others.

Q: Who else is on the Origenis leadership team?
A: Origenis was founded in 2005 by Michael Thormann, CSO, Andreas Treml, COO and myself. We previously worked together at a multinational biotech company, developing technologies and functioning as a business unit. We have a proven track record in drug design, compound synthesis and characterization. We are based in Munich, Germany and recently added CFO Thomas Loeser who brings financial and deal making expertise, in both Europe and the U.S.

Q: What is Origenis’ business strategy going forward?
A: Since we are already established as an R&D partner of choice, we have a track record of steady and profitable growth of R&D collaborations. That being said, we extended our business model towards faster value creation and are currently seeking up to €20 million for Series A financing to advance our internal pipeline.

We have full ownership of all projects, results and data packages. Our partnering strategy entails out-licensing assets from our significant IP and R&D portfolio and building partnering agreements with large pharmaceutical companies.

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 to learn more.

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

How many people, when to recruit and what kind of strategy?  It depends. That’s the only answer that applies across all health science emerging companies considering formation of a board.  Board directors serve a variety of roles: they provide strategic decision-making; set operational and performance metrics for the company; provide access to capital; and provide valuable connections.  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.

When to Build a Board.  Deciding when to build a board depends on the stage and goals of the company. Are you raising capital?  Seeking strategic contacts? Venture capital investors will likely get seats and a well-selected strategic advisor may also be a candidate. Of note, smaller companies do not always have the option to hand select members or self-determine timing.  Many times directors are selected based on financing –  they’re selected because they have an equity position, noted John B. Henneman, EVP & CFO, NewLink Genetics, board member for various medical technology companies.

How to Select Board Members.  If you’re a first-time CEO, you might not have the experience. Board members should help build the company, not tell you what you’ve done wrong, commented Chris Adams, Founder, CEO and director, Cydan. Therefore, it is important to have board members that complement the executive management team.  For example, if the CEO has a strong scientific background, it can be constructive to bring on operational expertise.

Number of Board Members.  Seven is an optimal number of board members because any more is too many and you want an odd number.  Boards often have three or four members from venture capital firms which leaves one or two seats for independent directors, according to Steve Hoffman, board member for various biotech companies and Sr. Advisor, PDL BioPharma.  Understanding this limit up front is important when strategizing potential candidates.

Where to find Board Members.  Personal contacts are important in the early stages, but you need to go beyond your network as the company matures, said Robert DeLuccia, former Chairman, Dipexium Pharmaceuticals. Whether it is an in-house recruiter or an external one, they play a vital role in seeking the best candidates with their network of talented and intelligent individuals.

And don’t forget about diversity – a board with a diverse background can be very beneficial in extending the company’s reach.

In sum, corporate governance is an important consideration for all companies, large and small.   Ensuring a responsible board that can help guide corporate direction is important for all parties – management, employees, customers, suppliers, partners and others.  Make sure you make the most of yours.

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.