10 JP Morgan Week Survival Tips #JPM2020

10 JP Morgan Week Survival Tips #JPM2020

  1.     Start reaching out if you have not already to top targets

 2.     Spread a wide net.  Extend your reach and target 20% or more new names. 2x outreach + personal emails.  Master schedule, one pen. 30 min meetings; 15 min travel time

 3.     Try BIO’s 1×1 meeting platform or BTS’ online platform to schedule

 4.     Check your message and refresh; if presenting announce PR (optional)

 5.     Branch off – Divide and conquer with your team to meet new people

 6.     Don’t focus on your phone – Strive to meet new people

 7.     Be efficient with your message

 8.     Don’t go too green – paper or pixels? 

 9.     Listen – master class in the business of science and medicine

 10.   Have a plan with some holes – impromptu meetings and on the spot networking

 11.   Follow up – recap, update and capture database, summarize and feedback 


Prepping for JPMorgan Week 2020 and Beyond:

The Fifteen Slide Presentation: Learn to communicate the essence of your company’s message in just 15, well crafted slides


The Elevator Speech: Create a 60-second pitch about your company to use at upcoming networking events


The Basics of Public Speaking: Refresh your public speaking skills with tips on giving an engaging and effective presentation


What Life Science Innovators Need to Know About MiFID II for Capital Access and Research Coverage

What Life Science Innovators Need to Know About MiFID II for Capital Access and Research Coverage

The EU’s signature framework for the financial markets is starting to have major impacts in the US

What are the challenges and potential opportunities for companies in the life sciences?

On January 3, 2018 the Market in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) II was rolled out in the European Union (EU) as a signature piece of European financial services regulation, to create a level playing field for investment firms within the EU’s financial markets and restore confidence in the industry, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

What was this intended to accomplish?

The ultimate goal of the regulation was to increase transparency in the financial markets by shifting trading away from so-called “dark pools,” lowering the cost of market data and improving “best execution.”  A key tactic to achieve this last goal was that the costs of trade execution, sell-side research and management access must be disclosed and paid for separately.

Payment for sell-side research has traditionally been bundled with trading commissions, and European regulators worried that that this “bundling” made research costs opaque to end investors. Also, they believed that asset managers were inclined to overpay or to sacrifice best execution in exchange for this access to research, as well as to gain access to company management (corporate access).

MiFID II mandated the unbundling of fees for trade execution, research and corporate access. European asset managers taking sell-side research must pay for it now from their own P&L or with a research payment account funded by client money, and it must be explicitly priced. Most asset managers have chosen to pay fees from their P&L. Similarly, corporate access services must be paid for separately.

What have been the unintentional consequences?

Unfortunately over the past eighteen months, MIFID II has, according to one source, caused the slow death of European investment banking. The inevitable squeeze in revenues for brokers has resulted in less research coverage for smaller cap stocks, liquidity concerns and diminished access to the capital markets. — ironic as a key goal of the EU financial policy was to boost funding for small and medium sized businesses and lessen company reliance on bank loans.

According to a Europe-wide report by the CFA Institute, research budgets have been scaled back, with a particularly acute decrease in coverage for small- to mid-size companies, and what research coverage still exists has decreased overall in quality.  Similarly, Greenwich Associates estimates that brokers earnings from equity research have decreased by approximately 20%, or $300 million.

In terms of corporate access, because brokers must charge to facilitate discussions between fund managers and the companies that they invest in, fund managers are now bypassing brokers and going direct to companies.  And European investment conferences, where these payment rules can be quite complex to navigate, have taken a hit in terms of attendance.   

What starts in Europe doesn’t necessarily stay in Europe

It’s inevitable that in a globally interconnected financial marketplace, such a far-reaching regulation would impact the US. Big US pension fund managers, in particular, are not enthused about having to pay a single, bundled bill for all brokerage services in the US, but then write multiple checks in Europe. A number of large firms have been vocal in support for a framework in the US similar to MiFID, feeling that it will lower costs and ultimately benefit investors.  

Further complicating the issue, Wall Street firms are all but prohibited from selling stand-alone research to U.S. customers unless brokers are also registered as “investment advisers,” a direct conflict with MiFID II regulations.  The SEC provided relief with a “no action” letter allowing US brokers to take payments from European asset managers, but that expires in April 2020. We expect to see continued debate on this, with the SEC looking for industry input this year.

And on the corporate access front, MiFID is having a negative impact as well. There has been a notable decline in U.S. in the total number of bank-sponsored conferences announced in Q1 2019 vs Q1 2018, down some 17 percent.  This tracks with an  even more dramatic 27-37 percent decline from 2018 to 2019 in bank-sponsored conferences in the EU.

“More than anecdotally, we’re starting to see MiFID II effects starting to take a bite out of U.S. investor meeting access,” said Sharon Choe, SVP of IR and director of corporate access at LaVoieHealthScience.

“This has been particularly acute for foreign listed companies who have seen declines in access in the EU, and are now feeling the effects as they engage here in the US with diminished sell-side interest in setting up investor meetings, and sponsored investor conferences that are less vibrant than in years past.”

The challenge, and the opportunity

All of this creates challenges, particularly for small-cap life sciences firms who struggle to get their story across to investors. With potential reductions in published research, fewer analysts covering a stock, the buy side taking meetings with fewer brokers, and overall diminished efforts by the sell side, IROs will have more work to do get in front of the right investors.

It’s not all bad news, however, as the opportunity for management to reach out and interact directly with investors is, if anything, increasing.

Recently, five of the largest U.S. institutional investors announced plans to organize a series of meetings, starting in Boston, to meet directly with company management – without the intervention or interaction with the sell side.  Fidelity Investments, Capital Group, Wellington Management, T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Norway’s government fund will host a series of private conferences where their fund analysts can meet directly with CEOs.

And other large institutional investors, like Black Rock and Janus, have set up their own internal corporate access teams to go directly to company management for their stories.

“While the corporate access/investor meeting landscape will continue to change in the coming year, it’s clear that investors are eager to hear directly from companies themselves. And this gives IROs a terrific opportunity,” said LaVoieHealthScience’s Choe.

“The impacts that we’re beginning to see from MiFID mean that many more investors will be inclined to contact your directly,” concluded Choe. “But why wait? The information and insight that you provide is the biggest factor in delivering alpha to investors. They are eager to hear from you.”


LaVoieHealthScience IR Contacts:

Paul Sagan, AVP, Investor Relations

Sharon Choe, SVP, Investor Relations




How Your Company’s LinkedIn Presence Extends Your Brand Beyond Other Social Media

How Your Company’s LinkedIn Presence Extends Your Brand Beyond Other Social Media

LinkedIn is a critical tool for networking, branding, and showcasing the talent that makes your team unique. With a growing number of life science professionals on LinkedIn, your company’s presence on the platform can serve as a point of reference for investors, partners, media, healthcare professionals, potential advocates, and prospective hires. 

An active company page and detailed employee pages tell your story in different ways than a website or other social media channels. Here are some distinct ways that LinkedIn can advance your brand:

Unique Environment for Sharing Success

LinkedIn’s professional, learning-centric culture offers a more business-focused content environment than Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. The content shared on LinkedIn is oriented towards business success strategies and career improvement, providing a great opportunity to share your company’s value through thought leadership and educational pieces.

Making your science and research understandable to a broad audience of professionals on LinkedIn can boost awareness of your company in and beyond the life science sector.

According to Sharon Correia, SVP of Integrated Communications at LaVoieHealthScience, “LinkedIn has proven to be a very effective channel for our clients to share press releases on corporate news, new drugs, devices, features, and clinical trial results, as well as blogs, webinars and thought leadership events. LinkedIn posts also can help companies showcase their culture, community service, philanthropic investments, their commitment to patients & caregivers and employment opportunities.”

Learn from other companies and influential professionals in addition to sharing your own expertise. Actively participating in the culture on LinkedIn can position your team as valuable thinkers who demonstrate an interest in the success of others, opening doors for networking and other opportunities.

Less Noise

LinkedIn offers a smaller community than Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and provides a more focused audience, given that users’ accounts are strictly professional. According to Statista, as of April 2019, LinkedIn had 303 million active users, versus over 2 billion for Facebook, 1 billion for Instagram and 330 million for Twitter.

LinkedIn is different from other platforms where individuals may have multiple accounts —personal, professional, comedic, or otherwise focused. On LinkedIn, the content you share is not constantly competing with memes and pictures of cute animals.

According to Sharon Correia, sharing content on LinkedIn is great for building awareness of your life science company because posts last longer and don’t get buried as quickly in people’s feeds. Sharon points out that clients can achieve added amplification on LinkedIn because simply liking a post can make it show up in someone else’s feed, and content doesn’t cycle as rapidly as on Twitter.  

Some companies do post on LinkedIn daily, but many do not. On LinkedIn, the emphasis is quality over quantity. Bring your most important achievements in science and medicine to interested professionals and use LinkedIn to expand your company’s visibility in the growing life science area.

Emphasis on Individuals

LinkedIn can humanize the leaders and team members that truly define your company. An employee profile on LinkedIn differs from a website bio, a Twitter handle, or even a resume. It summarizes a person’s skills, experiences and professional accomplishments, creating a quick story that speaks to the individual and the company.

The standard profile format on LinkedIn also makes it easier to find and connect with details in a profile. Making relevant connections can be useful for attracting top research and life science talent to your team, as well as building meaningful relationships.


LinkedIn is your company’s social media in loafers and a button-up. Focused on professional growth & networking, free of the character limit of Twitter and removed from the noise of larger platforms, it is crucial to consider LinkedIn in your life science company’s social media strategy. Use LinkedIn’s distinct opportunities to elevate your online identity.

6 Digital Marketing Tools for Life Science Companies

6 Digital Marketing Tools for Life Science Companies

With a crowd of social media platforms to master and so many digital marketing tools available, it’s not easy to determine which resources will work best for you and your company. As we discussed previously, social media is an important tool for life science companies. Maintaining an effective presence on leading social media platforms can connect your company to key opinion leaders, such as advocacy groups. Other aspects of digital marketing are also essential. For example, email marketing can increase investor attention for your company and a company blog can raise your credibility. But if digital marketing is new to you, deciding which tools make sense for your company’s needs might be overwhelming.

In this article, we list some of the tools we love at LaVoieHealthScience that are also great for newcomers to digital marketing. Whether your goal is to create stunning graphics for Twitter or get a handle on hashtags, we have you covered.

  1. Canva

A simple graphic posted to social media can make for a nice break from plain text. Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional designer to create engaging visual content for your social channels.

Canva is one of the best free tools available for designing impactful graphics. Although a paid membership to Canva will allot you additional features, you can still do great work with a free account. The site provides free templates to meet all your design needs. You can customize each template, using unique fonts, shapes, vector images and much more. Looking to design a graphic for Instagram? Canva has plenty of templates to guide your journey. On Canva, you can also design infographics – a useful feature for life science companies. 

2. Evernote

Sometimes you need help organizing your thoughts, especially when your goal is content creation. Evernote is a free notetaking app that can be used on your computer, smartphone and tablet. Are you tired of haphazardly scribbling on sticky notes or in a notebook every time you have an idea? If you answered yes, Evernote is the tool for you. Rather than having to worry about misplacing handwritten notes, Evernote is a way to sync your ideas in one digital location. Whether you’re on the train or in the office, record ideas for your next blog post using Evernote.  

  1. Google Alerts

If you find yourself often missing new mentions of your company or product, Google Alerts is the perfect tool for you to implement. This is also a powerful tool for helping you find relevant content to share on social media.

With Google Alerts, you can input any search term (or phrase) and receive an email notification whenever there is a new result. This tool is free, helpful and easy-to-use—a must for any digital marketer. Additionally, you can customize how often new results are sent to you, how many results you receive and what type of results you want to be notified about.

  1. Hashtagify

Not all hashtags are created equal, but how do you determine which hashtags to use? Hashtagify is a tool designed to make that question easier for you.

Hashtagify offers a free option as well as a paid service that comes with a few extra features. But the free version should offer you enough insight. All you need to do is search a hashtag on the site to retrieve data on that hashtag’s popularity and trend history. If you’re not sure whether #RareDiseaseDay, #RDD19 or using both hashtags is more impactful, Hashtagify can help.

  1. Hemingway App

When it comes to writing copy for an online audience, sometimes less is more. The Hemingway App is a free site that helps writers cut down on lengthy or confusing text. To use this tool, paste your writing into the site and receive feedback on its readability. If you tend to overuse adverbs or passive voice, the Hemingway App can help break your writing habits.

  1. Hootsuite

One of the most recognizable tools on this list, Hootsuite is a social media management platform that can be used with many social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. A versatile platform, Hootsuite is useful for scheduling posts, tracking analytics, social media monitoring, curating content and more. If you would like to test Hootsuite out, you can get started with the free version. For a life science company, Hootsuite can be an invaluable tool for monitoring industry trends and news.

Team Feature: Sharon Choe – Senior VP, Investor Relations & Business Development

Team Feature: Sharon Choe – Senior VP, Investor Relations & Business Development

Earlier this month, LaVoieHealthScience (LHS) announced the addition of Sharon Choe to our team. Sharon, who joined us from The Ruth Group in New York City, now serves as Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Business Development with LHS. Sharon’s hiring marks a step forward for LHS into the NYC financial market. As an agency, we can now say that we have a firm presence on Wall Street, thanks to Sharon’s expertise and familiarity with the NYC market.

While Sharon offers a wealth of experience and financial knowledge, she is also a fascinating person with a vibrant, charismatic personality. To celebrate Sharon joining LHS, we reached out to her with questions about her career story, passions and more.

Get to know Sharon as a Manhattan native, Northeastern University grad, and innovative IR professional by reading our Q&A with her below.

LHS Pulse: What’s your favorite thing about working and living in New York City?

Sharon Choe: I would have to say that it’s the vibrancy and fast-paced energy of the city or as my fellow New Yorkers would say, “Welcome to NYC. Get out of the way!” Being born and raised in the hardcore projects of Manhattan until I went off to college at Northeastern University, my childhood was fast-forwarded to learning how to appreciate my meals with a plastic spoon vs. a silver spoon. To this day, I credit my humble beginnings for molding me into the tough city chick who realized at an early age, thanks to my very wise mom, that I had to rely on just one person to get ahead in the world – myself.

I wholeheartedly credit the competitive spirit of NYC for instilling in me the drive and motivation to forge ahead in the Old Boys Club of Wall Street. Step by step, I climbed the corporate ladder in my Jimmy Choo stilettos (which I had to work an entire week to afford so I could add 4 more inches to my teeny 5-foot frame). From a sales assistant 30 years ago to a Senior Vice-President and proud member of the award-winning team at LaVoieHealthScience today, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sang it best: “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There’s nothin’ you can’t do / Now you’re in New York…”

At the end of the day, as a native born and bred Manhattanite, my heart truly belongs to NYC. As my caption goes for one of my favorite photos, “I love you Big Apple, so put a ring on it!”

LHS: And, since it’s only fair, what’s your favorite thing about Boston?

SC: That’s easy… Team LaVoieHealthScience! But, as a Northeastern alumna, I will always cherish my fondest memories of my five years in Boston so it’s impossible to name just one favorite thing about the city. My very long list goes on and on from the warm people with their “wicked” Bostonian accents, to my favorite neighborhood go-tos including the shops and oysters at Faneuil Hall, the historical walk along the Freedom Trail, the duck pond in the Boston Public Garden, top-rated restaurants on Newbury Street, amazing Italian meals in the North End, invigorating runs along the Charles River and the cultural fix at the Museum of Fine Arts.

LHS: What are your favorite things to do, outside of work?

SC: Running, running and… running. Yes, I am a crazy runner. As a member of the New York Road Runners Club, I thrive on getting my runner’s high on a regular basis and the best part? It’s free and legal! My biggest passion is running in support of charities near and dear to my heart including: the NYC Marathon for Team Up with Autism Speaks, the American Association for Cancer Research’s Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Fred Lebow Half Marathon, Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon for Cancer and many more.

Hiking is also a favorite of mine but sometimes, if I attempt a challenging trail, I have found myself out on a limb literally.

Aside from running, I am a fan of musicals so if I’m home on my sofa resting my legs from a shin splint (pun intended), you can find me on any given day as a Couch Choe-tato binge-watching any and every musical including “The Greatest Showman,” “Les Misérables,” “La La Land,” “Grease,” “Jersey Boys,” “The Sound Of Music,” “Mamma Mia,” etc.

I also love my friends aka “The Biotech Mafia” as most of us are closely tied within the same Wall Street/investor relations/biotech industry so I often coordinate “Times to Get Happy Hours” for catch-up cocktails.

LHS: How did you know you wanted to have a career in investor relations?

SC: I knew the day I made my entry into the wonderful world of biotech investor relations after the infamous 2008 Wall Street crash when half of my fellow Wall Streeters and I had to re-invent ourselves. The founders of LifeSci Advisors reached out to me then regarding a role for investor outreach. However, my passion for investor relations did not truly ignite until I joined The Ruth Group in a business development role. It was then that I embraced my networking skills and prior experience as a buyside investor to support and build my track record of bringing prospective client companies on board who needed IR and/or PR services. 

I found it extremely rewarding to help fulfill the needs of companies seeking investor and/or public relations services. I enjoyed working to boost their visibility to both the investment and scientific communities in order to support development of their proprietary products.

LHS: As a former biotech analyst on Wall Street, what informs your approach to investor relations and business development?

SC: The biotech and pharmaceutical sectors are the hottest areas in investment right now, as there will always be a need for proprietary, therapeutic and curative drugs for so many untreated diseases.

I find biotech-focused daily online publications crucial to staying on top of companies in need of IR and/or PR support. These publications include Fierce BiotechBioWorld Today, BioPharm Catalyst, BioSpace as well as others.

Sell-side analysts and bankers are also key to maintaining a valuable stream of communications on IPOs, M&A activities, investor outreach, etc.

LHS: What about your new role with LaVoieHealthScience is the most exciting to you?

SC: To me, the most exciting part of my new role is taking the initiative to combine the best of both worlds by expanding the award-winning IR/PR platform of Team LHS, based in the biotech hub of Boston, and building and expanding a dedicated IR team in NYC, the financial capital of the world. It is a perfect equation for a win-win. 

Finally, I would like to express that I feel extremely blessed to have been given this opportunity of a lifetime by our remarkable and highly respected President & CEO Donna LaVoie who embodies the essence of intelligence, success, grace and elegance. I could not ask for a better role model.

Trending News & Topics from JPM19

Trending News & Topics from JPM19

The LaVoieHealthScience team was thrilled to kick off 2019 with another trip to San Francisco for the 37th Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Plenty of stories out of JPM19 trended online and made headlines. In this article, we highlight a few that caught our attention.

Meeting Space at a Premium

JPM19 boasted more than 10,000 attendees while thousands more flocked to San Francisco for meetings and industry events like the Digital Medicine & Medtech Showcase, the Biotech Showcase, the Dermatology Summit, East-West CEO, RESI and the Neuroscience Innovation Forum. With so many visitors flooding an already expensive and crowded city, finding meeting space wasn’t easy. In this article from Bloomberg, Kristen V. Brown describes the challenges attendees faced in booking meeting space during the conference. Some people opted to hold their meetings in plush hotel bathrooms while others found a local Macy’s to be a prime spot to chat.

More Female CEOs than ‘Michaels’

At last years’ JPM, STAT News found there were more men named Michael giving corporate presentations than female CEOs. Those numbers improved slightly this year, with STAT counting 33 female CEOs giving presentations at the conference compared to 19 presenters named Michael. Here at LHS, we are excited to see that the industry is changing, albeit slowly. However, there remains a long way to go before we close the gender gap in biotech.

Giving Back to San Fran

According to Business Insider, San Francisco has the country’s highest rate of street homelessness. This year, STAT reporters Rebecca Robbins, Matt Herper, Damian Garde and Adam Feuerstein asked JPM attendees to give back and help fight homelessness in San Francisco. Rebecca, Matt, Damian and Adam created a GoFundMe with the goal to raise money for Lava Mae, a nonprofit that brings mobile showers, haircuts, food, clothing and more to homeless individuals in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland. The campaign ultimately raised $12,635 for Lava Mae.

Soaring Prices

During JPM19, the major topic on social media for patients and advocates was the cost of many life-saving medications. It was hard to miss the dissonance between the financial concerns of patients and the solid gold pill JPM19 took as its logo. BioWorld reports that advocacy groups took to Twitter during JPM19, asking the biopharma industry to reconsider its priorities. Additionally, the rising costs of attending JPM are also cause for concern. With some hotels charging people an hourly rate just to sit in their lobbies, as reported by BioWorld, some are debating whether relocating the conference might be in order.

Our Take

Overall, JPM19 provided a terrific forum to meet with clients – many of whom released major news or presented – as well as prospective clients, business partners and industry movers and shakers. The sheer variety of social and networking events surrounding JPM was mind-boggling, adding to an already packed schedule for most attendees.

But despite some of the negative atmospherics, the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference remains the largest and most informative healthcare investment event in the industry. It brings together an unequaled combination of industry leaders, emerging and established companies, technology innovators and the largest group of VC, PE and institutional investors of any healthcare-related conference during the year. Hundreds of companies, both public and private, reached out to more than 4,000 investors present at the event that literally set the stage for discussions within the healthcare industry for the rest of 2019. We all must remember despite the investor focus here that the true winners will ultimately be the patients as the myriad companies seeking funding for their innovations and treatments will push forward advances that help patients realize better outcomes.

The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference is Coming…

The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference is Coming…

We’re in the midst of the fourth quarter, and it’s already time to begin planning for 2019. That means the annual confluence of industry conferences in San Francisco are just around the corner.

Whether or not you are participating in the 37th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference or the Biotech Showcase™, it’s time to review, refresh, and reinvigorate your corporate deck.  To get prepped for your conference presentation, take a look at some of our past materials:

We hope these tools will help you communicate your company’s unique message, regardless of the setting.  We’ll see you in San Francisco in January!

7 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

7 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Ever hear of Serial? How about Planet Money? Thanks to the growing popularity of podcasts, programs like these have become household names for millennials and older generations alike. Podcasts have changed the way many of us get our news, listen to stories, and learn about current trends.  They’re convenient, entertaining, informative and industry specific. We’ve put together our top recommendations for keeping up with important biotech and marketing topics; whether you’re a faithful subscriber or a first-time listener, you won’t want to miss these shows!

For your biotech and life science interests…

Our first choice is STAT’s weekly podcast, hosted by Damian Garde, Rebecca Robbins, and Adam Feuerstein. This show offers a mix of current biotech news, deep dives into the industry, and upcoming events. For a first listen, try “Fake friends at the FDA, cancer counter-narratives, and biotech’s bear turn.” The Readout LOUD is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Another biotech-focused podcast we’re enjoying is The Long Run with Luke Timmerman. Tune in to hear Luke Timmerman, author of The Timmerman Report, chat with leading figures in the biotech space, such as LaVoieHealthScience client Chris Garabedian, and Life Science VC Bruce Booth. Check out the archives here.

Sprung out of an Emmy-nominated documentary, Rare in Common serves as a platform for people impacted by rare disease to share their stories. Host Andra Stratton chats with patients, caregivers, and physicians from the rare disease community, telling stories which enable us to rethink what being rare really means. Explore the Rare in Common site to find past episodes and information about the documentary.

For your PR & Marketing needs…

The SHEQuality podcast, presented by the PR Council, is recorded weekly and hosted by Lee Caraher, a seasoned communications strategist, CEO, and author of two business leadership books.  Each week, Lee interviews senior female leaders in PR and Communications to discuss their personal stories, touching on challenges they’ve faced, landmark achievements, and their best advice for other professionals.  Keep an eye out for the episode “Woke at Work”, featuring LHS President and CEO, Donna LaVoie, for commentary on unconscious bias, decision making ,and women in STEM.

Marketing Over Coffee supplies listeners with new content weekly, as hosts John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn record their podcast in a local coffee shop over a cup of Joe.  Episodes are only 20 minutes long and contain quality marketing tips and tricks.  Listen to “Google Marketing Platform, Quantum Computing and The Last Blockbuster!” on your next commute.

Just for fun…

Looking for something a bit lighter? Try Two Disabled Dudes, a podcast where friends Sean Baumstark and Kyle Bryant interview guests, talk about their lives, and generally have a good time. Both hosts are affected by a rare disease called Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), which impacts their balance and coordination. Their positive attitude, humor, and open perspectives make this podcast truly stand out.

Hosts Christina Wallace and Cate Scott Campbell base their podcast, The Limit Does Not Exist, on the mentality that creativity and STEM work better together.  Guests are often described as “Human Venn Diagrams” – artists, musicians, and scientists all rolled into one.  Cate and Christina recently chatted with Kevin Clark, a philanthropy consultant, product manager, and musical composer – just one of many diverse and engaging individuals who appear on the show.

Communications Strategies to Prepare for an IPO, and Beyond

Communications Strategies to Prepare for an IPO, and Beyond

How you tell your company’s story before, during and after an IPO can have a big impact on your valuation and market success 

Preparing for an IPO signs you and your company up for months of hard strategizing, messaging and decision-making to effectively tap the public markets. With the complexities of changing market dynamics, mandated disclosures and Federal securities regulations, navigating the process is a challenge. And since the 2012 JOBS Act, allowing for confidential S-1 filing, many companies simply do not bother with the hard work of building their presence in the marketplace before the registration statement is publicly filed.  


That can be a big mistake.  Your IPO is a once-in-a-corporate lifetime chance to position your company, not only in the minds of investors, but with your customers, prospects and other key stakeholders.  

Not taking full advantage of the visibility gained during the IPO process can do a disservice to your company and your future shareholders.     

Pre-IPO: putting the communications infrastructure in place 

Before the IPO process even gets underway — to maximize your chances of success in the public markets — you’ll need to put in place a solid communications infrastructure that includes a detailed messaging strategy, a timeline of your news flow, a priority list of your key audiences.  

Targeting the right stakeholders at the right time is vitally important, especially for companies in the life science sector.  Ensuring that your customers, key opinion leaders (KOLs)/physician groups, and patient/advocacy groups understand the company story will pay dividends. Wall Street will conduct its own detailed research to find out exactly what these third parties think about your products, your company, and how they all fit into the competitive “space.” Getting your story understood and validated by KOLs and customers can have a major impact on how “the Street” eventually views and values your company.  

This is also the time to review and evaluate your press release strategy. Think about and create an inventory of “news pegs” or story ideas that could go out before your “quiet period” starts immediately before your filing. You’ll need to further craft your story through your investor materials such as fact sheets, corporate presentations, management videos, websites and external Q&A documents. 

You should also consider conducting an investor positioning session or perception audit to help refine your corporate story. This process can help you develop a peer group from which to benchmark or refine your company’s working investment thesis and set appropriate corporate milestones.  

And you’ll want to cultivate third-party spokespeople who can speak about your company to the media, begin developing your corporate investor presentation and, importantly, train your internal corporate spokespeople. Message training is like finishing a package off with a bow. Taking your presentations to 100 percent effectiveness by message training the team will prove to be worth the investment.  

The IPO Process – staying visible, keeping compliant 

The communications roadmap and regular PR activities that you put into place during the pre-IPO preparatory phase will serve you well as you enter into the regulated world of communications immediately before and after “filing” your IPO.  

Federal securities law limit the kind of information a company may use to offer stock in its IPO and the way they provide that information. These “quiet period” limitations can seem to conflict with the need for companies to continue business as usual.  After all, companies need to engage in marketing, public relations and advertising to promote themselves, reach customers and generate sales.  

But if you’ve established a “track record” of “regularly released factual business information in the ordinary course of business” during your pre-IPO phase, you can maintain communications with your clients and prospects, satisfying the “safe harbor” on communications and not be accused of “gun jumping.”     

You’ll still need to closely coordinate with your securities attorney on communications immediately before or after the registration period, as it is potentially easy to run afoul of securities regulations. But with the proper preparation in the pre-IPO stages, there should be no reason for you to go silent in your communications with customers or prospects.   

Post-IPO: keep the momentum moving 

Once you complete your IPO and begin public trading, there’s a natural tendency to take a breath and just do the mandated minimum in terms of communications. But remember, going public probably generated the most visibility and media interest your company has ever had. Now is not the time to take your foot off the accelerator.   

Your post-IPO communication strategies are crucial for managing relations with Wall Street and keeping yourself compliant with Federal regulations.  As a newly public company reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission, you’ll need to develop internal processes to execute your earnings releases and 8-K filings, your 10-Q and 10-K submissions, develop relevant “non-GAAP” financial information and script your quarterly conference calls with investors and analysts.  

It’s definitely a lot of work, but to maximize the effort that you put into becoming a public company, it can’t end there. This is where the timeline and message strategy you created before you went public comes into play.  

Look at the initiatives you may have put on the back burner prior to the IPO. Now may be the time – with heightened attention on your company – to put them in place. Take advantage of the contacts and relationships you’ve made with the media during the IPO process to keep them informed.  And not just with disclosure communications, but with stories that show the breadth of our company. After all, your company is more than just a stock symbol and a ticker price.   

Keeping your company’s communication strategy front and center throughout the three phases of the IPO process will greatly increase your visibility and ultimately help ensure that your company achieves a full and fair valuation, once it becomes public – and beyond.  

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Donna L. LaVoie is President and Chief Executive Officer of LaVoieHealthScience.

Communicating Effectively and Persuasively to Mixed Stakeholder Audiences

Communicating Effectively and Persuasively to Mixed Stakeholder Audiences

In most industries – and especially when dealing with health and science innovation – it’s critical for communicators to reach an array of stakeholders: investors, business partners, consumers, regulatory agencies, the media and advocacy groups. Whether a company is privately-held or public, building branding and messaging that resonates across all stakeholder audiences is essential.

On August 2nd, LaVoieHealthScience (LHS) explored these issues when our founder and CEO, Donna LaVoie, moderated a panel discussion at The Writing for PR and Corporate Communications Conference, presented by Ragan Communications and held at McDermott Will & Emery’s Boston office. The heavy-hitting panel included Sharon Correia, VP, Integrated Communications, LHS, Matt Osborne, VP, IR and Corporate Communications, Voyager Therapeutics, Inc., and Stella Lin, senior healthcare marketing leader, formerly with Sanofi Genzyme.  These communications experts discussed the importance of differentiating and prioritizing stakeholder audiences, balancing messaging to address individual stakeholder needs, mapping out a communications plan with aligned messages, and persuading management to think more broadly – and strategically – across the audience mix.

Key panel takeaways:

Sharon Correia explained how stakeholder prioritization and messaging alignment is core to LHS’ approach to strategic communications. Starting with a proprietary methodology called LHS Immersion®, Sharon explained how, “we work with internal and external client stakeholders to help establish the groundwork for key messages…then we take each message pillar and stratify those against the audiences they are trying to influence, creating topline and secondary messages.” The goal is to establish clear, differentiated positioning pegged to each stakeholder audience and ensure messaging alignment across all channels. Once a messaging strategy is developed, it’s pulled through to overarching themes for story development, news flow, paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) content distribution, thought leadership and social campaigns.

Matt Osborne of Voyager Therapeutics further broke down the importance of effective, targeted communication to key stakeholders. “You could be a $500B company or a $500M market cap company….60% of your stock price is usually based on the product you have, how you’re competing in the marketplace, another 20% of stock price is due to things beyond your control, but the remainder is absolutely in the control of corporate communications or IR: It’s what you say, how you say it, and when you say it. Companies that do that really well, capture that 20% of value all the time.”

Matt believes the key to effective messaging is to “understand all the functional stakeholder groups, understand who you’re speaking to, simplify the messages and get agreement for those messages.” He went on to discuss how his communications team develops simple, concise statements that apply to all audiences and that everyone internally can agree on. “Sometimes it’s not until you boil messaging down into two or three simple statements that people all agree…and if it’s not clear internally it won’t be clear or resonate externally.”


On the same thread, Stella Lin emphasized how important messaging alignment is during a fire drill situation, coming down to two simple ideas: commonality and preparation. “When you’re in a crisis, trying to get the communications out, [you] have so little time to try and align…start with the commonality – we all want to do disease awareness, right? Start there, whether you’re a doctor or a patient or communications professional.” As a best practice, Stella would meet regularly with different departments and share the market research and stakeholder feedback she was receiving to make sure everyone was on the same page. Further, when Stella looked at her positioning and messaging the first step was to decide what she was trying to communicate – what type of news, is there a call to action – and who her consumers are. Scientific information and complicated concepts need to be transformed into easy-to understand messages if the audience includes more than health care professionals. In healthcare, her consumers could be essentially anyone. Patients, patient caregivers, families, patient organizations, even the general public — all need to be taken into consideration when messages are being formed. Having a team that is aligned and prepared can help make that process easier.