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‘Swimming in Partner Soup:’ 2018 ASAP BioPharma Keynote Addresses Challenges of Tech Collaboration on Prescription Digital Therapeutics (Part 1)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dr. Corey McCann is a man who wears many hats—scrubs, academic cap, campaigner, jester, and even hardhat. As the first of two keynote speakers at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Value and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” Sept. 24-26 in Boston, Massachusetts USA, he provided a lively presentation in which he showed the audience how he switches his hats with aplomb. In his captivating talk, “Lost in Translation: Communication, Confusion, and Consensus in Strategic Alliances,” the physician, scientist, entrepreneur, healthcare investor, and founder/CEO of Boston-based Pear Therapeutics, Inc., delved into the timely but tough topic of the alliance management interface between biopharma and tech.

Colleague Brooke Paige, CSAP and vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics, introduced McCann by lauding his many “heroic” accomplishments as founder of several startups, a trained boxer with endless energy, and highly approachable executive whom colleagues nicknamed “Snacks” because he rarely stops for a full meal.

McCann then delivered a clever, sometimes humorous, talk from the C-suite about the small, innovative company’s partnering with big companies in their quest to pioneer prescription digital therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases, including addictions.  The cognitive behavioral therapy-based treatment is software that comes with a doctor’s prescription. The software responds and morphs over time, according to the needs of the patient. The downloaded product requires an access code from the physician.

“We are swimming in partner soup,” announced McCann as he talked about the challenges of Pear’s ample pipeline, which involves 10 products that require separate approvals from the FDA because of the unique framework of prescription digital therapeutics. “You will see us aggressively partnering across all of these verticals,” he continued, while flashing a slide of Pear’s pipeline.

Alliance management at Pear must bridge two distinctive worlds. Pear’s team is “half and half,” he explained: pharma is based in the Boston area; tech is based in the San Francisco Bay area. “We brought these two very disparate sets of people together” in one company—but to do that required a lot of effort to enable tech and pharma to understand the lingo of each’s area of work.   

“One of the things I would like to interweave into this talk is this idea of communication between alliance partners, and nonverbal cues, and how we are productive or nonproductive,” he said, while providing the example of etiquette surrounding the exchange of business card. “Even for those of us who think we have a handle on this very basic skill—this handing of paper to another human being—there is ambiguity.”

“How do entirely different disciplines communicate?” he asked the audience.  “There is an interface between tech and biotech. How tech people communicate with one another is very different than how biotech people communicate with each other.”

People in the two industries dress differently, he then explained. A person in the Bay area might “eat avocado toast and ride a scooter to work. … If I’m interacting with the tech team, I make sure to pet their dogs they bring to the office,” he explained in a sea of laughter from the audience. “One of my personal favorite examples is this issue of language. When pulling Pear together, we used the acronym API—which means Application Program Interface in tech, but for biotech, it means something different”—Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.

It actually took a while for the two teams to figure out this discrepancy, he explained, again as the audience rippled with laughter. But in the end, the two industries found the glue that holds them together: “Impacting the patient. That is the rallying cry for us. That is how we approach partnership—through good and bad.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s coverage of Pear CEO Corey McCann’s keynote and other sessions at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference.  

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alliance management  Alliance Mindset  biopharma  Brooke Paige  cognitive behavioral therapy  creating value  C-suite  Dr. Corey McCann  partnering  Pear Therapeutics  prescription digital therapeutics  software  Strategic Alliances  tech 

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The Beatles, Alliances in the C-Suite, and a Company Built on Strategic Partnerships (Part 1): Citrix Chief Marketing Officer Kicks off the ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“Our entire business is predicated on ‘any-ness,’ so we recognize you can’t go it alone,” said Tim Minahan, senior vice president of business strategy and chief marketing officer of Citrix and the keynote speaker at the Tuesday, March 27 opening session of the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. “Citrix was founded 29 years ago [and] has built its entire business on nurturing and fostering strategic alliances and strategic channel relationships. We have dozens of alliances today and nearly ten thousand channel partners that are building entire businesses atop of Citrix.”

Minahan took the stage after opening comments from ASAP President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, and an introduction by ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics. Leonetti emphasized to a jam-packed ballroom how, historically, more than half of alliances fail or fail to deliver—but today, “we’ve reversed that trend of alliance failure,”  citing ASAP and other research data indicating “those organizations that have implemented ASAP best practices, and have certified practitioners, are able to achieve up to 80% success rates.” The recent ASAP 6th State of the Alliance research study, he added, “shows that alliances that use best practices make more money. That was something intuitively known for a long time in the ASAP community, but now the data show it as well.”

Leonetti emphasized—and Minahan exemplified—that today, alliance management has a seat at the leadership table and correspondingly, the C-suite itself better understands, is more engaged, and more than ever emphasizes business collaboration and partnering strategy to drive growth, innovate, and deliver better experience and value to customers. Leonetti clicked to a slide citing a slew of business research studies “since 2014 that consistently say CEOs now get it” and rely upon “new strategic alliances for growth, innovation, and go-to-market.” Indeed, “KPMG’s CEO Outlook study in 2016 said 40 percent of CEOs believe we need to move alliances to the C-level.”

For the ASAP community, this advance—of partnering as profession and alliances as core to company strategy—has been a two-decade journey. This year ASAP celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding. (See the Q2 2018 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine for a look back at ASAP’s formative years.) Leonetti did a shout out to ASAP’s Founding Chairman Robert Porter Lynch, CSAP, asking him to stand up and be recognized. “Talk about a visionary,” Leonetti exulted as the audience enthusiastically applauded Lynch. “We appreciate everything you’ve done, Robert.”

Leonetti concluded his comments by emphasizing, “We really need a vibrant community. Engagement is the key to our growth. We have the tools, the people, and we have the attention of every CEO. The table is set.”

To introduce the keynoter, Leonetti invited the ASAP chairman to the stage, recalling that he and Paige both “started in ASAP in 2003. Brooke is now VP at Pear Therapeutics. Brooke has worked with companies with 80,000 people and now, I think, with 50.”

Paige took the handoff. “Here at ASAP we love to talk about the ASAP family, a close community of alliance practitioners. But the question is, what kind of family are we?” she asked. “I was talking to my teenage stepson about alliance management, describing what we do. I said sometimes we see things way ahead in the future that others don’t see. Sometimes we’re dealing with a derailment of a partnership and helping to fix it. Sometimes we’re doing things that nobody else sees. My stepson said it sounds like alliance managers are superheroes,” she said, clicking to a slide with images from recent Marvel comics movies, then to the next slide with the headline on the front page of Superman’s Daily Planet: “Alliance Managers Save the World!”

Paige then introduced Minahan, an English and political science major and graduate of the Kellogg School of Management’s Chief Marketing Officer Program, who joined $3.2 billion Citrix about two years ago. Minahan framed his presentation around the theme of “everything I ever needed to know about strategic alliances I learned from the Beatles.”

Read more of Minahan’s comments—and alliance management insights he derived from Beatles songs—in Part 2 of this blog post.

Tags:  alliance managers  Brooke Paige  Citrix  Michael Leonetti  partnership  Pear Therapeutics  Tim Minahan 

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How to Make Your Alliance Stories Newsworthy (Except When You Don’t Want Them to Be!)—Part Three

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017

In a lively presentation punctuated by pithy quotes, interesting cases, and vivid stories underscoring the “dos” and “don’ts” of alliance public relations, Lori McLaughlin, corporate communications director at Anthem, and ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, staff vice president, strategic initiatives, and chief of staff, HealthCore, explored the topic in their Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session, “Why Keep the Good News to Yourself? Internal Partnerships for External Promotion: How to Work with Your PR/Communications Lead.” ASAP Media’s coverage of the session concludes below in Part Three of this three-part blog series.

 

Elaborating on recommended practices for sustaining stories, Paige noted that HealthCore maintains an editorial content calendar tracking key events, key milestones in collaborations (and whether they are newsworthy internally or externally), major publications or presentations, and significant accomplishments. “Not only does this become a huge part of our potential press, items on our website, LinkedIn and Twitter, but the story could make our company newsletter, our Anthem intranet, it could become talking points for senior executives in a variety of settings, and so on. So these elements are very much reused and the story is extended,” she explained.

 

“No presentation about PR would be complete without the ‘know your role in the event of a crisis’ topic,” Paige continued. “We say we need to err on the side of transparency. When a potential threat becomes known, advise your alliance partner around the possible impact.” The presenters then cited a real-life case of a reporter who believed that a partnership created a conflict of interest—and was sniffing around for proof of his allegations after discovering an old press release announcing the partnership. “We contacted the partner, said here’s the essence of allegation, the reporter is claiming some sort of conflict of interest, then we told the partner the facts and why we didn’t think there was a conflict,” Paige explained. “The partner prepped their leaders. The story did come out but it amounted to nothing. Still, we wanted to make sure we covered all our bases.”

 

McLaughlin and Paige’s final checklist for partnering with communications to tell your alliance stories:

  • Make sure you know who to work with in PR long before ready to share story.
  • Approach the team long before you’re ready.
  • Don’t ask for a press release. “Ask how they can help you tell a story to a specific audience or broader audience. That will make you look so sophisticated as you make that request,” McLaughlin emphasized.
  • Understand news value and lead with it when pitching the story to your communications team.
    Coordinate with alliance partners. Share talking points and plans across collaborators.

In response to a session participant’s question, McLaughlin wrapped up the discussion by returning to the importance of ensuring your alliance announcements are newsworthy stories—and of NOT pushing an announcement that the media would consider a throw-away put out by PR hacks.

 

“More than putting out press release, it’s pitching the story,” McLaughlin explained. “Reporters say they like me because I don’t pitch a story unless I have one—so they at least give me the benefit of doubt. [That’s important] because they get so many stories thrown at them. Certain companies shoot out a release when anything happens, but this so-called ‘news’ is not really relevant, and therefore, they don’t have that credibility that I’ve earned with media. That’s your long-term argument” when you push back on your boss’s request to issue a release on a story that isn’t so newsworthy—“you want that credibility.”

Tags:  alliance manager  alliance partner  alliances  Anthem  AstraZenica  Brooke Paige  credibility  Dow Jones News Service  FiercePharma  HealthCore  Lori McLaughlin  Medical News Today  news value  newsworthy  partnering  Pharmacist elink  pitching story  press releases  SmartBrief  spokesperson  threat  WSJ.com 

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How to Make Your Alliance Stories Newsworthy (Except When You Don’t Want Them to Be!)—Part Two

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017

In a lively presentation punctuated by pithy quotes, interesting cases, and vivid stories underscoring the “dos” and “don’ts” of alliance public relations, Lori McLaughlin, corporate communications director at Anthem, and ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, staff vice president, strategic initiatives, and chief of staff, HealthCore, explored the topic in their Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session, “Why Keep the Good News to Yourself? Internal Partnerships for External Promotion: How to Work with Your PR/Communications Lead.” ASAP Media’s coverage continues below in Part Two of this three-part blog series on the session.

Once you’ve identified something you believe is newsworthy, your next step is to identify all of the extended team members who have corporate communications, PR or external promotions roles, and introduce them to your alliance counterparts; then find their counterparts. Some of the titles involved could include corporate communications leader, public relations director, content manager, social media manager, marketing leader, digital strategies manager, communications director, media director, external communications, and internal communications.

 

And then the next step is to approach one of these folks and ask them to write a press release—right?

 

No, no, no. As McLaughlin emphasized, your colleagues in communications inevitably bristle (now you know why) when you approach them saying, “we need to do a press release on this!”

 

Instead, there’s a more detailed process involved in launching the story—which may or may not include doing a press release. Indeed, you need to get good at explaining to your boss why in many cases you do NOT recommend doing a press release. “Brooke and I have to work it out—does it make sense to do press release, or maybe a webinar,” or something else, McLaughlin said.

 

“Another big issue—how to find the right spokesperson,” she continued. “You can get help from communications, but communications needs your support. People often look for the biggest title but it’s not always best. The media like someone who really knows the content. If you put a high-level person on the phone with the SME [Subject Matter Expert] that helps, but it can be awkward because the journalist doesn’t necessarily know who is talking. But also sometimes the people extremely in the weeds aren’t the right person either.”

 

A key exercise is to “develop your elevator pitch and core messaging, which guides us to tell what it’s all about. How can you sell someone your story in 30 seconds?” McLaughlin said. Paige recalled that she and McLaughlin found it useful to use HealthCore’s Twitter description to hone down its messaging. “Prior to that, it was difficult to understand that really we’re a research company.”

 

Once you’ve launched your story, you need to think about how to sustain it. Using the example of the announcement of HealthCore’s partnership with AstraZeneca, Paige and McLaughlin illustrated this principle with a story that started as an exclusive offered to Dow Jones News Service (the reporter got the story “under embargo” and was able to write the story and publish it first, an hour before a press release hit the newswire). Subsequently, over time, a variety of news outlets covered the story—including WSJ.com, FiercePharma, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association’s SmartBrief, Pharmacist elink, and Medical News Today. Finally, no news cycle should end without your alliance story being told internally. The partnership with AstraZeneca received extensive media coverage as well as internal publicity thanks to a variety of activities that kept the story “alive.”

 

Continue learning about the approach to public relations that Paige and McLaughlin use at Anthem and HealthCore in Part Three of ASAP Media’s coverage of their Friday, Sept. 18, 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session, “Why Keep the Good News to Yourself? Internal Partnerships for External Promotion: How to Work with Your PR/Communications Lead.”

Tags:  alliance manager  alliances  Anthem  Brooke Paige  credibility  FiercePharma  HealthCore  LinkedIn  Lori McLaughlin  major publications  news value  newsworthy  partnering  Pharmaceutical Care Management Association’s Smart  Pharmacist  pitching story  presentations  press releases  spokesperson  Twitter  WSJ.com 

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How to Make Your Alliances Newsworthy (Except When You Don’t Want Them to Be!)

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Friday, September 22, 2017

“If it bleeds, it leads.” (the succinct definition of “newsworthy”)

“If I had only two dollars left, I would spend one on PR.” (Bill Gates)

And one of my favorite quotes of all time: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” (Mark Twain)

 

Punctuated by pithy quotes, interesting cases, and some vivid stories underscoring the “dos” and “don’ts” of alliance public relations, this was one fun 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session—and not just for me and other folks in the room with journalism and/or corporate communications experience. But the two presenter—Lori McLaughlin, corporate communications director at Anthem, and ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, staff vice president, strategic initiatives, and chief of staff, HealthCore—tackled a serious topic: “Why Keep the Good News to Yourself? Internal Partnerships for External Promotion: How to Work with Your PR/Communications Lead.”

 

From the beginning, McLaughlin and Paige emphasized the importance of a strong relationship between corporate communications and alliance management. Paige started with how the two of them work together at Anthem—one of the largest payers/insurers in the US representing one in eight American lives—to promote the company’s partnerships with biopharma companies.

 

“A bit about our relationship first—HealthCore is a wholly owned subsidiary of Anthem,” Paige said. “It is HealthCore that holds primary responsibility for alliance relationships in the life sciences space.  So it is Lori and her team who help get our alliance stories out. She also coordinates our media training for our senior executives and company spokespersons. She has been an incredible asset to us in telling our alliance stories both internally and externally.”

 

Starting with the “if it bleeds, it leads” dictum, McLaughlin dove into the rich topic of the session by focusing on what makes an alliance particularly “newsworthy” to communications colleagues—and how alliance executives can help identify opportunities to highlight their collaborations. She emphasized that while many people know advertising, they fail to recognize that many brands have been built largely or entirely via public relations. That takes understanding that “novelty, human interest, tragedy, conflict, timeliness, celebrity, extremes (superlatives)—these are all things that make a story ‘newsworthy’ in the eyes of the media,” McLaughlin continued, illustrating her point by noting that Anthem has been covered in the media (positively) for its efforts to help combat the heroin epidemic, certainly an ongoing story that “bleeds.”

 

Applying this to alliance news, McLaughlin suggested you ask the following questions to help determine if something is newsworthy:

  • Is this really new and different? And for whom?
  • Does this create market disruption?
  • Does this solve a burning problem?
  • Ask yourself the “So what? Why should my aunt care?”

Once you’ve identified something you believe is newsworthy, your next step is to identify all of the extended team members who have corporate communications, PR or external promotions roles, and introduce them to your alliance counterparts; then find their counterparts. Some of the titles involved could include corporate communications leader, public relations director, content manager, social media manager, marketing leader, digital strategies manager, communications director, media director, external communications, and internal communications.

 

And then the next step is to approach one of these folks and ask them to write a press release—right?

 

No, no, no. As McLaughlin emphasized, your colleagues in communications inevitably bristle (now you know why) when you approach them saying, “we need to do a press release on this!”

 

Instead, there’s a more detailed process involved in launching the story—which may or may not include doing a press release. Indeed, you need to get good at explaining to your boss why in many cases you do NOT recommend doing a press release. “Brooke and I have to work it out—does it make sense to do press release, or maybe a webinar,” or something else, McLaughlin said.

 

“Another big issue—how to find the right spokesperson,” she continued. “You can get help from communications, but communications needs your support. People often look for the biggest title but it’s not always best. The media like someone who really knows the content. If you put a high-level person on the phone with the SME [Subject Matter Expert] that helps, but it can be awkward because the journalist doesn’t necessarily know who is talking. But also sometimes the people extremely in the weeds aren’t the right person either.”

 

A key exercise is to “develop your elevator pitch and core messaging, which guides us to tell what it’s all about. How can you sell someone your story in 30 seconds?” McLaughlin said. Paige recalled that she and McLaughlin found it useful to use HealthCore’s Twitter description to hone down its messaging. “Prior to that, it was difficult to understand that really we’re a research company.”

 

Once you’ve launched your story, you need to think about how to sustain it. Using the example of the announcement of HealthCore’s partnership with AstraZeneca, Paige and McLaughlin illustrated this principle with a story that started as an exclusive offered to Dow Jones News Service (the reporter got the story “under embargo” and was able to write the story and publish it first, an hour before a press release hit the newswire). Subsequently, over time, a variety of news outlets covered the story—including WSJ.com, FiercePharma, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association’s SmartBrief, Pharmacist elink, and Medical News Today. Finally, no news cycle should end without your alliance story being told internally. The partnership with AstraZeneca received extensive media coverage as well as internal publicity thanks to a variety of activities that kept the story “alive.”

 

Elaborating on recommended practices for sustaining stories, Paige noted that HealthCore maintains an editorial content calendar tracking key events, key milestones in collaborations (and whether they are newsworthy internally or externally), major publications or presentations, and significant accomplishments. “Not only does this become a huge part of our potential press, items on our website, LinkedIn and Twitter, but the story could make our company newsletter, our Anthem intranet, it could become talking points for senior executives in a variety of settings, and so on. So these elements are very much reused and the story is extended,” she explained.

 

“No presentation about PR would be complete without the ‘know your role in the event of a crisis’ topic,” Paige continued. “We say we need to err on the side of transparency. When a potential threat becomes known, advise your alliance partner around the possible impact.” The presenters then cited a real-life case of a reporter who believed that a partnership created a conflict of interest—and was sniffing around for proof of his allegations after discovering an old press release announcing the partnership. “We contacted the partner, said here’s the essence of allegation, the reporter is claiming some sort of conflict of interest, then we told the partner the facts and why we didn’t think there was a conflict,” Paige explained. “The partner prepped their leaders. The story did come out but it amounted to nothing. Still, we wanted to make sure we covered all our bases.”

 

McLaughlin and Paige’s final checklist for partnering with communications to tell your alliance stories:

  • Make sure you know who to work with in PR long before ready to share story.
  • Approach the team long before you’re ready.
  • Don’t ask for a press release. “Ask how they can help you tell a story to a specific audience or broader audience. That will make you look so sophisticated as you make that request,” McLaughlin said.
  • Understand news value and lead with it when pitching the story to your communications team.
  • Coordinate with alliance partners. Share talking points and plans across collaborators

Tags:  alliance manager  alliances  Anthem  Brooke Paige  credibility  FiercePharma  HealthCore  LinkedIn  Lori McLaughlin  major publications  news value  newsworthy  partnering  Pharmaceutical Care Management Association’s Smart  pitching story  presentations  press releases  spokesperson  Twitter  WSJ.com 

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