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.

Can Social Media Help You Meet Your Organization’s Communication Goals?

LaVoieHealthScience joined communications pros from around the world at the IPREX Global Leadership Conference and discussed – in person – how to help our clients with digital content and social media. The top 3 social media outlets are: Linked In, Twitter and Facebook.  If you’re not using them, you may want to reconsider. Here’s how:

Get started.  Start by thinking about your target audience:  What are management’s priorities and who are they trying to reach?  Investors, advocacy organizations, customers, media, potential and existing partners as well as the general public.  Today’s world is built by fostering relationships with these target audiences, and social media can help your organization communicate with these target audiences.  Also, don’t forget to check out what your competitors are doing.

Think about each audience and what they would like to hear from you.  Asking and listening are much more important than talking.  Investors want to hear about how your development projects are coming along, what your plans are to raise more capital and whether you will meet your financial projections.  Advocacy organizations want to hear about what you are doing to support their cause and lend your expertise to further develop visibility in that particular disease area.  Customers want updates and more information about the product or technology they are buying.  Existing partners want to hear about how the product they are involved with is progressing.  Potential partners want to know about complementary expertise in their specific disease areas.  The general public wants to know how your advancements are changing the world in your particular disease area.

How can you achieve your communication goals through social media?  Let’s consider your target audiences and what you can send their way that would address their needs.  Investors might like to hear about a milestone or quarterly financial results. Advocacy organizations might want to hear about the scientific paper you are presenting at an upcoming medical/scientific meeting.  Customers might like to hear about new enhancements to an existing product although you need to keep in mind the FDA Best Practices for Internet and Social Media Promotion.  Check out our FDA Best Practices for Internet and Social Media Promotion, Part 1 and Part 2.  Existing and potential partners might like any updates about the organization and/or its products.  The general public might like to know about any medical and scientific meetings where you are presenting and any advances you are making in a particular disease area.

How can you measure your success?  It is not about quantity.  It is about quality.  Are you addressing your target audiences’ needs?  Use Google Analytics (because it’s free) to figure out whether you reached your social media goals and try to link new trends back to your social media outreach.

Digital is an essential part of everything we do today.  Take advantage of this opportunity by building a relationship with your target audience through social media today!

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All Media Relations Is Local

“All Politics is Local” is the name of the autobiography of Tip O’Neill, the Cambridge city councilor and superintendent of sewers who went on to serve 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, including a decade as Speaker of the House. O’Neill lived by those words, a phrase he used regularly after losing his very first political campaign.

It’s been used in countless contexts since, and it always sticks in my head when it comes to media relations for two reasons. First, with online news outlets, Google news alerts, Feedly and any number of web-based readers, everything becomes local when it hits your iPhone. BioWorld sometimes has more Kendall Square datelines than the Cambridge Chronicle & Tab.

Second, and more importantly, local media have a vested interest in covering local companies for a number of reasons, geography first and foremost.  The interest on the part of business writers at local papers and local television and radio news producers goes beyond phase 2 data and the cost savings to the health care world. They follow commercial real estate, jobs and chambers of commerce.  The same can be said of the hundreds of editorial staff at The Business Journals in about 50 cities. They come with daily email blasts, too.

A strong relationship with these reporters is important to establish early on. Working with local reporters early and often surely will pay dividends down the road. Could be through a crisis or a puff piece. They pay attention, and by “they,” I mean everyone who works at these papers.

Funny story. A high-ranking C-suite member of a biotech company that was in play submitted a change of address to the circulation department. He had several months left on his subscription to the weekly print edition, and rather than have it delivered to his office, he wanted it delivered to his home. The circulation tipped off the biotech beat reporter, and the biotech beat reporter wanted to know when the company was closing its offices and moving to France, Ireland, New Jersey or wherever the new owner was taking all the jobs.

I am biased. I worked for several years in local media as staff writer at The Enterprise of Brockton, Mass., a daily newspaper with a circulation about 50,000. Keep your eyes on the ‘Prise. I was there when the website got launched, but not when Tip O’Neill was in office. I digress.

Local media pay attention. In some cases, local media outlets may not have a reporter who is well versed in biotech and spec pharma jargon, and they’ll need a little hand holding when we explain an adeno-associated virus or messenger RNA technology.

But, ultimately, it’s time well spent in developing the relationship with the writer, building the foundation of your corporate story-telling efforts and reaching multiple stakeholders with your message. After all, depending where they are, all patients are local.

San Francisco-Bound: IR Planning for the 1Q 2015

Various Healthcare Conferences Provide Access to Industry Partners and Investors

As we work through the fourth quarter, are you thinking about the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco?  This annual event is one of the largest and most important events for those of us in the health and life science industries.  In 2015 the event will be held on January 12 – 16.  When I say the event, I am not just referring to JP Morgan but also the other conferences that run simultaneously with JP Morgan—Biotech Showcase and OneMedForum.

While the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference is a bank-sponsored event and is by invitation only, Biotech Showcase and OneMedForum provide opportunities for networking and business development as well as provide investor access.  Biotech Showcase is an investor and partnering conference that runs January 12 – 14 at the Parc 55 Wyndham and provides both public and private biotech and life science companies the opportunity to connect with investors and industry executives. OneMedForum is similar in that it attracts both public and private companies, but this conference targets emerging growth companies and is also held on January 12 – 14 at a new, larger venue, the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

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Hopefully you’ve booked your hotel and/or meeting room.  With thousands of professionals attending each year, hotels and meeting rooms get booked very early.  Some companies even book their reservations following the conclusion of the upcoming conference for the following year.  Biotech Showcase offers its conference attendees discounted room rates at the Parc 55 Wyndham by using their online reservation system or calling 800-697-3013. Since many attendees book meeting after meeting all day long, there is something to be said for staying in the same location as the conference.  If the hotels where the conference you attend has no rooms available or doesn’t meet your needs, consider locating rooms close to the venue as running back and forth through San Francisco, known as the second hilliest city in the world, doesn’t bode well for your feet by the end of the day.

Your next consideration should be which conference you will attend or perhaps you are considering attending all of the conferences.  If you are planning to choose between Biotech Showcase and OneMedForum, look at who is attending each conference and who has attended in the past.  Which conference focuses more on your target audience?  Not sure of your target investor audience?  Look at your competitors and who follows them.

Will you host a company presentation or attend to set up one-on-one meetings or do both?  Biotech Showcase offers participants their PartneringOne system while OneMedForum offers participants their OneMedPlaceConnect system.  Both of these online meeting systems make it easy to target attendees you are interested in meeting with, sends them invitations, assigns meeting places and even keeps your schedule helping you keep track of any last minute changes.  They save you the time and effort of booking and paying for a meeting room, which are in high demand and very expensive in San Francisco during JP Morgan but may be worth the expense if you want to establish a higher profile and brand presence with your target audiences.  Assessing your priorities for the upcoming year should help you decide whether a corporate presentation or partnering meetings or both are right for you. Think about your goals—are you trying to raise money, increase awareness about your company and/or its product(s), establish partnerships to market your product ex-US or gain expertise in a certain treatment area?

Planning a company presentation is a great way to increase visibility among investors where they can sit through a brief introduction and decide whether they want more information about your company and its products.  What does your company presentation look like?  Why is your story relevant now?  You should be able to say what you need to say in 10 – 18 slides.  Take a fresh look at the story line, messaging and visual content; make some changes.  What are the key touch points for your products whether on the market or in development?  Are you addressing those points in your slide presentation?  Check out or blog on “The Winning Formula for a Killer Corporate Presentation.”

Looking at all of the work that needs to happen to make these conferences worthwhile may seem overwhelming, but attending JP Morgan is your best opportunity to reach investors and industry executives.  Keep in mind that participation at JP Morgan can potentially set your tone and have a big impact on 2015.  Consider working with a strategic communication partner with a clear understanding of the ropes and audiences present.  It may be worth making sure you obtain a clear return on investment.

Now that you are thinking about 2015, take a look at other financial conferences taking place this year and next: