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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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Keynote Speaker “Dr. Sam” To Prescribe More Collaboration as Part of the Cure for US Heathcare Ailments at ASAP’s BioPharma Conference

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2016

He’s a respected medical officer as well as a major mover and shaker in the area of healthcare reform. To those who know him personally, however, Dr. Sam Nussbaum is the wise and approachable “Dr. Sam.” The distinguished healthcare policy expert will be up on the podium at ASAP’s 2016 BioPharma Conference diagnosing woes and handing out prescriptions in relation to the changing political and healthcare scene in his talk “Healing the U.S. Health Care System: Collaboration is Essential” Wednesday, Sept. 7 at the conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston.

 

As a strategic consultant at EGB Advisors, Inc., the consulting arm for Epstein, Becker & Green, he advises healthcare, life science companies, physicians, hospitals, and provider organizations. He also served as the former executive vice president, clinical health policy, and chief medical officer at Anthem Health from 2000 to 2016, where he was acted as the key spokesperson and policy advocate and oversaw clinical strategy and corporate medical and pharmacy policy. He was responsible for HealthCore, Anthem's clinical outcomes research subsidiary, and helped create the model for the Food and Drug Administration’s Safety Sentinel System. Recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the "50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Healthcare," he received the 2004 Physician Executive Award of Excellence from the American College of Physician Executives.

"Sam is the ‘advisor to healthcare advisors,’” says Brooke Paige, staff vice president, strategic initiatives at HealthCore, Inc. “He is sure to bring a dynamic energy and unique perspective to the ASAP Biopharma Conference. Sam is a true clinician, always keeping the patient in mind. As we talk about how our healthcare landscape may change in response to the upcoming presidential election, “Dr. Sam” can advise what potential election outcomes could mean for each segment of the industry."

 

Nussbaum is known for his exceptional role in creating collaborative solutions between Anthem, HealthCore, hospital systems, the FDA, and public agencies. He is well-versed in the value of partnering to solve systemic problems at the highest of levels, having helped design and promote patient-centered medical homes and assessed their impact on the quality and cost effectiveness of care. Under his leadership, HealthCore has built partnerships with federal agencies and academic institutions to advance drug safety, comparative effectiveness, and outcomes research.

“Dr. Nussbaum is uniquely qualified to discuss collaborative approaches and help attendees define ecosystem problems specific to their business while envisioning strategic partnering options to best address an alliance challenge,” says ASAP CEO Mike Leonetti, CSAP, of the choice. “We know as partnership professionals, that the US healthcare system will never be fixed without a collaborative approachit's just too complex not to bring the payors, providers, industry, and government participants together.  In addition, Nussbaum is a policy guru with strong healthcare policy experience and can help attendees prepare for a range of potential scenarios stemming from evolving healthcare policy impacted by the presidential elections.”

 

While serving at chief medical officer at WellPoint, he was accountable for $100 billion in healthcare expendituresfrom clinical pharmacy programs to care and disease management. The HealthCore subsidiary built partnerships during that time to further outcomes research, drug safety, and comparative effectiveness with large federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and FDA, as well as academic institutions.

 

He received his medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and trained in internal medicine at Stanford University Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. He also trained in endocrinology and metabolism at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the OASIS Institute, NEHI, BioCrossroads (an Indiana-based public-private collaboration that advances and invests in the life sciences), and America's Agenda. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Medidata, a publicly traded clinical technology company serving life sciences clients, and the Healthcare Advisory Board of KPMG. He serves as Chair of the Centers for Education & Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Steering Committee (a cooperative agreement between AHRQ and the FDA), is a member the HHS Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Guiding Committee, and participates in Institute of Medicine activities, including serving on the Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care.

 

For more information about the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference and keynote speaker Sam Nussbaum, go to http://www.asapweb.org/biopharma/.

Tags:  Anthem Health  ASAP BioPharma Conference  collaborative solutions  Dr. Sam Nussbaum  EGB Advisors  FDA  healthcare  HealthCore  hospital systems  Inc.  life science companies  partnerships  public agencies  WellPoint 

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From Entrepreneur to Intrapreneur in the Healthcare Industry: Marcus Wilson’s ‘ASAP Quick Takes’ Tutorial at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, February 22, 2016

ASAP is introducing an exciting new presentation format at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit March 1-4:  the “ASAP Quick Takes, patterned after “TED Talks” and well-received at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference, will bring four provocative speakers to the stage to provide specific, complementary insights relating to emerging ecosystems. Organized around the theme “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” the summit will be held just outside the US capital at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. Among the executives in the line-up is Marcus Wilson, president and co-founder of Anthem’s real-world research subsidiary, HealthCore. With reams of background information and perspective, Wilson is well-placed to speak on his topic “The Alliance Professional as Entrepreneur.” His experience as an entrepreneur has positioned him as a guiding force in his current mission to improve the safety, quality, and affordability of healthcare through data and research. He previously developed and ran the Health Outcomes and Clinical Research program for BCBS of Delaware, on which HealthCore is founded. 

ASAP Media: What are some techniques or approaches you use to jumpstart innovation and creativity as an intrapreneur? 

Marcus Wilson: Making the shift from an entrepreneur to working as an intrapreneur, I have found that there are two major concepts to embrace.  First, I advise intrapreneurs to have patience. Second, innovative concepts have to be well-socialized ahead of formal introduction. Each group or department impacted by that idea needs to be on board with the idea or subtle undermining will limit or completely inhibit progress. As we mature new concepts, we also put into our plan a “campaign” of sorts to help recruit key influencers across the enterprise. It is one step we take to pave the way for these new concepts to gain momentum. 

How is being an intrapreneur different than being an entrepreneur in your industry, and how do they accommodate alliance managers to set the stage for the next levels of meeting customer needs? 

I would imagine for some the difference is significant. Though we have dealt with significant adjustment issues over time, the conversion to being a part of a much larger organization has gone reasonably well. We sold our company to Anthem in 2003 because we felt strongly it was an important step in accomplishing our mission. They had the resources and the position within the healthcare system that would allow us to build capabilities and influence healthcare evidence development in a way we could not do as a small, independent company. Though we have certainly had our challenges, we have benefitted from a solid business structure within Anthem that preserved much of our “entrepreneurial” culture, which was well planned prior to our acquisition, and strong executive level support over the last 13 years. Our alliance managers have played, and continue to play, a key role in both our internal and external alliances. 

What kinds of changes do intrapreneurs need to make in the evolving healthcare ecosystem? 

The healthcare ecosystem can be quite complex, and I am convinced that alliance collaborations are going to be at the heart of solving some of its current issues. Ironically, I believe we can simplify the experience for the patient by collaborating across the ecosystem itself. Thus, intrapreneurial alliance managers will be collaborating in alliances of all kinds, often with multiple companies or institutions working on the same issue. I see this as a huge shift from where alliance management first began in life sciences, traditionally between partner companies of relatively equal size.  

How do you stay ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and "outside-in thinking?" 

A good entrepreneur knows that great ideas can come from literally anywhere. We need to champion this viewpoint as we work to innovate. Just this week, we were talking about the Top 10 trends in healthcare, and asking ourselves for each item: “How might this development influence our future business? How might we organize ourselves to better leverage that innovation? Are we in a unique position to bring that innovation to others?  As a novel, care research organization, what insights can we bring to a given issue?”  As this is core to our business, it is critical to maintain and harness that outside-in thinking 

How is HealthCore on the cutting-edge of intraprenuership and understanding customer needs in the evolving healthcare ecosystem? 

Our early years were spent embedded in a large group practice in Delaware. We worked to support better decision making between the physician and patient at the point of care. Many tough lessons learned in those formative years led us to begin developing innovative ways to get the right information to those two key decision makers. Since our inception in 1996, we have felt the best means of impacting patient outcomes was to influence the many decisions made prior to new drugs and technologies getting to the patient. Realizing the innovators (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry), the regulators (FDA in the US) and policymakers had a major impact on what eventually makes its way to the point of care, we positioned HealthCore squarely on the lines where healthcare stakeholders intersect. Our position gives us rare insight into the needs, priorities, and unique language of each of these stakeholders. In this effort, collaboration is key. We are owned by a payer and leverage the resources and raw materials (data and their important relationships with the providers and patients) from that payer to close critical gaps in evidence in collaboration with the industry and regulators, which facilitates better technologies getting to the market with the right evidence to support their effective use in patient care. It is often a very tough line to walk, and alliance management is essential to our success. 

Tags:  alliance management  alliances  Anthem  collaboration  data  emerging ecosystems  entrepreneur  healthcare  HealthCore  intrapreneur  life sciences  Marcus Wilson PharmD  outside-in thinking  pharmaceutical industry  policymakers  regulators  research 

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