Dear Biotech Executives: Press Releases are not the Strategy

With the media landscape today, investors, analysts and media get their information from a range of sources. It may be a press release, but more often than not, it’s from information they learned somewhere else – maybe they caught it in a Tweet or LinkedIn post, read it in another story or heard about it from a source.

More times than I’d like to admit, we’ve heard clients refer to their communications strategy as a series of press releases on company news and events, as well as early-stage data. Don’t get me wrong, as a matter of transparency, it is important to disclose information about the company in a fact-based press release. However, it’s not enough to garner attention, credibility and awareness in the biotech landscape.

In 2018, the biotech community has had a seemingly endless stream of press releases about companies launching and raising money. Nearly every day, there is a press release about another company launch or fundraising event. As reported in Life Sci VC, in the first quarter of 2018 the market hit nearly $4.7B in funding. That’s great news for the industry, but it creates a great deal of competition for newsworthiness – even in the digital age where column inches are no longer relevant.

At Spectrum’s recent Science & Storytellers event, we heard from veteran science journalist and NY Times columnist Carl Zimmer about his perspective on press releases and their news value.

“I’m not so much looking at press releases because I figure everybody is looking at press releases, so what’s the point? I have low expectations about a good story coming out of a press release.” – Carl Zimmer

With journalists looking beyond press releases for a story, how do companies—even emerging and early-stage companies—build and maintain a share of voice?

The short answer is that it’s an integrated approach. Building a communications strategy that can break through the noise not only now, but maintain a consistent level of awareness and relationships over time, requires a strategy composed of news flow, but also news push and relevant, authentic and visual content to establish leadership, combined with social media strategies to drive influence among investors, media, partners and patients. It’s not enough to issue a press release on the wire and make a few media calls – that’s only the beginning.

Spectrum’s in-house executives will be rolling out a series of articles, all with the aim of providing a glimpse into the process and components of building a strategic communications program that drives a biotechnology company forward. We’ll dive deep into each of the components of a strategic communications plan to demonstrate the value from the beginning – so you don’t have to repeat the entire process in the future. Stay tuned!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Amanda Sellers, Executive Vice President. Over Amanda's 12-year tenure at Spectrum, she has developed, led and managed strategic communications programs for pharmaceutical brands, patient advocacy initiatives, emerging biotechnology and consumer packaged goods companies.

For more insight into telling your company’s science story, check out our full series on why success starts with strategy.

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