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.

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.

 

 

Three Tips to Start the New Year

Starting the new year off right is important. Here are three tips to keep you on track through 2017:

Strategize for the upcoming year. With so many conferences happening worldwide, this is the time to plan which one(s) are right for your company this year. These are great opportunities to connect with appropriate audiences and learn about the newest and exciting industry news. Choose wisely and make the most of your time once there.

Stay Connected.  You can’t be in person at every event, therefore use social media to stay informed on activities that are happening across the life science ecosystem.  This can be initiating conversations or inserting yourself into ones that are already ongoing. Social media can help you stay plugged in regardless of your geography.

Spend your time efficiently. Whether this is at a conference or in your office, time management is crucial. Your time is important, as is your audience’s. Don’t waste time with a slide deck that drags on and loses effectiveness. Fifteen slides is a perfect amount to get your point across to stakeholders and prospects in the most efficient way.

Interested in starting your new year with a renewed commitment to strategic communications? Contact us at info@lavoiehealthscience.com.  Learn how we help bring value to our clients’ life science innovations.

 

10 Top J.P. Morgan Survival Tips

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Start now.  Start reaching out to those you want to meet with, with an up-to-date message and an appropriate presentation.

Spread the net wide.  Extend your reach and target 20% new names.  Not sure how you’ll find them?  Try meet.bio – a dedicated platform for those who plan to be in San Francisco.

Check your message. Some things never change, but others should. Make sure your message and positioning clearly articulate your current vision and opportunity. Need help? Refer to LHS Immersion™.

Branch off.  Divide and conquer.  Don’t do every meeting with every co-worker. Take a different path and strive to meet new people.

Turn off your phone.   Of course we want you to keep on top of important issues back at the office, but don’t overlook the people right in front of you.

Be efficient.  It’s tempting to tell your audience everything you possibly can about your product, platform or service. Don’t do it.  Fifteen slides is plenty.  Check out The LHS Fifteen-Slide Presentation™ for insight.

Don’t go too green.  It’s easy to forego hard copy collateral however a hand-out can support the real-time conversation, while ensuring an imprint beyond the meeting itself.  Paper or pixels?  Both please.

Listen.  JP Morgan week (aka BioWeek SF) is a great opportunity to pick the brains of a wide variety of life science practitioners – across functions, products, platforms and technologies – this is a master class in the business of life science.

Have (most of) a plan.  Leave some holes in your calendar for impromptu meetings and on-the-spot networking.  If you’re too tightly scheduled you may miss an at-hand opportunity.

Follow up.  Schedule time after you’re back in the office to follow up with the contacts you made in San Francisco.  Nothing is easier than getting jammed back into your day-to-day work; ensure you’ve penciled in time to debrief.

First-time attendee or long-time alum?  At LaVoieHealthScience we help our clients optimize business opportunities.  Click, call or email to learn more.   info@lavoiehealthscience.com

Paper or Pixels? We’ll Take Both Please

It’s one thing to be environmentally conscious, but another to give an Investor Relations presentation without offering any type of hard copy collateral. In a move to “go green,” some are choosing to offer USB sticks, others are simply not handing out any material at all. But this is a mistake. The hand-out need not be glossy brochures, annual reports and/or SEC filings. Rather, a single-page fact sheet or copy of the slides can support the real-time presentation, while ensuring legs beyond the meeting itself.

disappearing-pixelsThe goal of an investor relations presentation is to enhance credibility and raise visibility. As a publicly traded company you must distinguish your company from the thousands of other companies vying for attention. Whether the audience are long-time followers or newly-engaged prospects, a hard copy hand-out is an easy opportunity to ensure the audience leaves with your message.

We’ve heard some presenters decline to provide copies of the presentation because they don’t want audience members skipping ahead. This is faulty logic. A good speaker will engage and monitor the audience. If attendees are skipping ahead, this is a clear signal to get them back on track.

Companies should also have a fact sheet. This type of hand-out provides an opportunity to repeat the message and restate the take-aways in the company’s own words.

At LaVoieHealthScience we recommend companies provide a copy of the presentation and an at-a-glance fact sheet at any investor meeting. An investor relations presentation is not an exercise in environmental activism. Rather, with a goal of leaving an imprint, paper is a valuable resource.

Connect with us today to learn how we help our clients produce on-message presentations, fact sheets and more. info@lavoiehealthscience.com

LHS IR Spot – Managing an IR Database: FOMO vs. TMI

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FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is real in the IR business. Did you miss a Boston investor who asked for a 1:1 the next time you’re in town? Did you forget that great question asked by a San Francisco-based analyst? But try to capture too much intelligence, and you wind up with TMI (Too Much Information) – a bloated, overwrought database where useful information is buried. In the battle between FOMO and TMI, we recommend a balance of customization and consistency to capture relevant intelligence, define real-time insight and create on-going outcomes.

Customization Do not use customization as an opportunity to develop an unlimited number of categories. Rather, a philosophy of “minimal optimal” will ensure a manageable number of categories, optimized for your company-specific purposes. For example, one general category for “meetings,” whether it’s a one-on-one held at a conference, as part of an NDR or an on-site visit.

Consistency Once the customization is in place, make a commitment to enter company-specific information on a consistent basis. For example, every time there is an interaction with an investor or analyst, input a note: “Met with Taylor at BofA conference.”

Relevant Intelligence With a minimal optimal framework in place, you can input company-specific insight within the note to capture relevant intelligence. “First-time meeting with Taylor, holds position in PeerCo.”

Real-time Insight Include a bullet point that addresses the contact’s real-time feedback. Are they waiting for a particular milestone? Attending J.P. Morgan/Biotech Showcase in January? “Will continue to monitor OurCo, in particular interested in pipeline.”

On-going Outcomes Use a final bullet point to summarize next steps. “Make sure to reach out for next West Coast trip.”

Any subscription database is a means to an end, not an end into itself. While there is a baseline value in the subscribed data, the real prize comes from intelligence you add that is specific to your company. With a balance of customization and consistency, your database can provide relevant intelligence, real-time insight and on-going outcomes.

LaVoieHealthScience is all-in for life and health science companies. With 15 years of experience delivering strategic communications, we know how to amplify your business success. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.

Not so Fast: Using a Media Embargo for Enhanced Coverage

In this age of “always on” media coverage, it’s interesting to review the use of the “not so fast” media embargo. For those unfamiliar with this methodology, a media embargo involves sending a press release to a reporter “under embargo.” The reporter agrees not to write on the news before it is distributed across the wire, and in return gets an opportunity to better frame the information.

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Viewpoints Over the years, opinions have shifted about utilizing a media embargo. While some see it as an outdated stranglehold in the age of digital media, others argue for the benefit of thoughtful coverage. These advocates note that the head start gives a journalist time to fully prepare the story and present developed finished product. This is especially important in health journalism, where stories are complex and often require thoughtful consideration of research, development and findings.

Strategy The most obvious use of a media embargo is for exciting news such as the introduction of pioneering new technology. Embargos can also be used for general news, such as the initiation of a new study. For major news, the chosen journalist is privileged to receive the information as an exclusive. For other news, sending a release under embargo may whet the appetite of an otherwise less interested writer. For public companies with material news, it is important to understand the regulations and requirements. At LaVoieHealthScience, our integrated IR and PR practice ensures communications compliance.

Timing There is an inverse relationship between the length of the news embargo and the importance of the news. For example, LaVoieHealthScience secured national media coverage for an innovative hearing device based on a one-day hold. In another example, this time for a kick-off to a Burden of Disease study, the embargo was timed over the weekend.

Experience Of course, the use of a media embargo can pose a risk as not all journalists stand ready to honor the quid pro quo. Therefore it’s important to have an established relationship with reporters to whom you offer a “first look.”

LaVoieHealthScience is all-in for life and health science companies. With 15 years of experience delivering strategic communications, we know how to amplify your business success. Contact us today to learn more about how we help our clients present their news in a timely fashion.

Scenario Analysis Planning for Phase III Results

3 Scenarios, 2 Months, 1 Message

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Phase III data lock in sight? Your internal scenario analysis starts now. That’s three scenarios, two months in advance, one unified message. The three scenarios may be overwhelming efficacy, modest efficacy and insufficient efficacy. Each scenario analysis should consider the primary endpoint data, preliminary views, interpretation of the possible results and an explanation of next steps. Considerations include statistical significance, patient results, regulatory implications and commercial relevance.

3 Scenario Analyses Your internal scenario analysis begins with the statistical boundaries that frame the three levels of efficacy – overwhelming, modest and insufficient. Outcomes include the goal of the study, number of patients, FDA protocol, primary endpoints and statistical methodology. Below this top-line overview are the bullet points specific to each outcome – the statistical results, the interpretation and implications for the study. Under message development, the points are the words that will be used to convey the results. Is this a “new treatment option” for which you now have “the confidence to proceed”?  Or maybe the trial “did not meet its primary end point” and there are “additional analyses” and “realignment of resources” needed.

2 Months in Advance With data lock in sight, evaluate the statistical boundaries that frame the three levels of efficacy – overwhelming, modest and insufficient. Each of these levels will need appropriate interpretation for all stakeholders. This is also the time to identify impacted audiences – patients, caregivers and advocacy groups; employees and partners; KOLs and investigators; scientific and medical media; investors and financial media. The message development must include key proof points that support the overarching message pillars and channels of communication for each. What parts of the website need updating and who will be responsible? Is there print collateral that should be developed, presentations to create and/or refine?

1 Unified Message It’s critical to begin an integrated communications plan with a well-developed methodology. This ensures message development across all possible outcomes and communicated to all stakeholders. The announcement of top-line data results is too important to leave to chance. Start early and plan thoroughly for high efficacy message impact.

LaVoieHealthScience is all-in for biotech and pharma with 15 years’ experience delivering strategic communications for life science companies. Contact us today to learn more about how we help our clients ensure appropriate communication of Phase III results.