Shotguns or Arrows: Reaching the right targets with your biotech story

At a time when the biotech industry is flourishing, the number of stories companies are looking to tell likely outnumber the reporters covering the beat. From clinical trial data and regulatory milestones, to partnerships and executive hires, many biotech companies are looking to increase awareness of their advancements and see media as a vital conduit to their audiences.

So how do these biotechs, who are relying on strong communications to convey their unique value, ensure their stories are told?

It can be easy to take a shotgun approach to communications: firing out a lot of press releases, pitches and posts, and seeing what hits (aka spaghetti on the wall). But this generates a lot of white noise, is often off target, is certainly not mindful of what the reporters are currently working on and gives little opportunity to assess how your pitch is received. This is why we take a more purposeful, targeted, #PrecisionCommunications approach that starts with understanding the audience and is grounded in proof points:

  • Know your audience. Before initiating a communications plan, consider who you are trying to reach, where they go for information and what matters to them. These insights will help you ensure you’re telling the right story, on the right channels, at the right time. Have purpose. Don’t bring a lacrosse stick to a baseball game.
  • Look for the surprise to assess your news value. If you have strong information, but no real ‘a-ha’ in it, you may not have news. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a story worth telling. Consider the landscape and trends to see if there’s an emerging story that is “above the brand” that your information, experience and expertise might support. Be relevant and provide value.
  • Even if your story is incredible, make sure you are credible. When telling your story, ensure you are providing valuable information that is supported by proof points. Know the guardrails and recognize how you can be a resource. This will help to build trust. There is a give and take to media relations. Remember the fable of the lion and the mouse.
  • Relationships start with “hello”. Reporters receive hundreds of emails every day from a broad range of companies and professionals seeking to gain attention and propose story ideas. To be noticed in the crowd, start with an introduction. Doing briefings can be a very valuable use of time for you and the reporter. Don’t underestimate face time (two words).
  • “Paid” isn’t a dirty 4-letter word, but “spin” is. In today’s communications environment, if you don’t have news but you do have valuable information to share, there are other avenues to bring your message to your audience without “spin.” A strong content strategy, using a mix of paid, earned, social and owned (PESO) channels, should be interconnected and never compromise your credibility. Increase your PESO exchange rate.

Whether you have news or information, the key to successful communication is to recognize the relevance of what you have to offer, what matters to your audience and the best channels to reach them. Simply put, be on target and purposeful to generate meaningful results.

Ultimately, you’ll know if your communications approach has been successful by the conversations you create.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Mary Conway, Executive Vice President. 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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