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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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‘Harnessing More Brainpower’ Through New Drug Discovery Partnering Models—and Problem Solving an Industry Challenge (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 2, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017

Swati Prasad, senior manager of business development and scientific alliances at Charles River Laboratories (CRL) in Wilmington, Mass., puts it succinctly: “When you harness brainpower, new ideas emerge.” Prasad participated in “Strategic Perspectives on Emerging Alliance Drug Discovery Models,” a dynamic panel discussion at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference. The panelists addressed the persistent challenges the drug discovery industry faces due to costly regulatory, business, and scientific limitations. Prasad manages drug discovery alliances and strategic partnerships at CRL to increase revenues, penetrate markets, and strengthen discovery and innovation.

Joining her were Mary Lou Bell of Nimbus Therapeutics and Charles McOsker of BioMotiv to discuss how alliance managers are adapting partnering models to address the persistent problem of early drug development gaps. Both companies are collaborating with CRL in novel ways to leverage innovative partnership opportunities. The panel plumbed the question: “How can alliance managers take the lead and design strategies for drug discovery/development models to leverage new players, such as non-traditional VCs, CROs/CMOs, and patient advocacy groups?”

Following is Part Two of ASAP Media’s coverage of the ASAP BioPharma Conference panel discussion exploring “Strategic Perspectives on Emerging Alliance Drug Discovery Models.”

Mary Lou: Nimbus launched a strategic partnership with CRL with a three-to-five years window that includes R&D and hopefully goes on to Phase 2, which is where the biggest challenges are—proving that that target is worthy of moving forward. We have worked for years with CRL but now are actually working with them as a drug development partner rather than customer/CRO [clinical research organization]. This alliance is possible because CRL, as well as others, has really reinvented itself over the last couple of years. They reinvented their range of services and also repositioned themselves much more not just as a drug development partner for companies like BioMotiv and Nimbus, but also as an emerging drug developer itself. That ongoing transformation made this strategic partnership possible. We are basically harnessing more brainpower, but we are doing it by working with one source rather than many, and it’s very much a partnership. It’s not the old model of “You do what we want, but we are managing you as one of our vendors.” So we’re basically one-stop shopping, but it’s not the shopping part that matters, it’s the integration. What’s really new about this is internal integration within CRL, and then that interface. As CRL uses this partnership with us to learn more about how it integrates and manages itself in the context of drug management, it is also figuring out drug development. So what we’ve done is pull together a fully engaged, focused, seamless team that is accountable for making this program happen. It’s not task- or service-oriented. It’s what you would see in a truly balanced alliance, where both companies bring complementary elements to the table.

Charles: BioMotiv is going on a year-and-a-half relationship with CRL. There was a lot of initial work that needs to be done in establishing communication pathways. Some has been within the elements of CRL. We’ve had the interesting experience of having done work with CROs acquired by CRL. It has been interesting to see the culture changes now that we are working with them as part of Charles River as we work on a portfolio of projects.

Mary Lou: Communication and frankness is critical. CRL once complained, “You are managing our chemistry like we are a ‘third-world’ CRO.” It was somewhat true, and it was all about us telling them what to do. So both sides have to learn how to behave differently to get the best benefit. You can’t flip a switch. The integrated project team is really the one guiding this program forward. We are the manager, but we look to CRL to be a full-fledged partner. It’s a very different flavor than most project management teams. And we have a joint steering committee overseeing. Both companies benefit from the diverse input and problem solving. Learning to work, think, [and communicate] in new ways will become more and more seamless so that when we introduce the new program, it will be like working in one company.

Charles: It really does require a more two-way trustful relationship in terms of the way you think of working with a CRO.

Swati: How many of you in the audience are using a system similar to what has been presented today? [No hands go up in the audience.] How many are working with a CRO like this? [One hand goes up.] How many of you think one of these organizational alliance models might have value to your organization? [More than a half-dozen hands go up.]  

For more on this topic, see ASAP Media’s interview in August with Swati Prasad on Charles River Laboratories and filling the drug discovery gap at click on this link to a recent MASS BIO blog.

Tags:  alliance managers  alliances  BioMotiv  Charles McOsker  Charles River Laboratories  development models  Drug Discovery  Mary Lou Bell  Nimbus Therapeutics  small biotech  strategic partnerships  Swati Prasad 

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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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ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Highlights Exceptional Contributions: Part 3—From Great Platforms to Epiphanies

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, August 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The following is a continuation from Part 2 of the ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A Panel session, which took place last March at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held in San Diego, Calif. Highlighted on the podium for their exceptional company contributions were Celine Schillinger of Sanofi Pasteur; Chris Haskell of Bayer; Maria Olson of NetApp; and Kevin Hickey of BeyondTrust. The session was moderated by John W. DeWitt, CEO of JW DeWitt Business Communications and publisher and editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance Magazine.  After DeWitt finished his questions, the audience jumped in with their own, one of which is included at the end of this post. 

Describe the greatest epiphany of your career, something that changed your worldview and made you a better executive or leader.

Maria: This was definitely an epiphany: I started working in the supply chain and felt like I was always in the trunk and someone else was driving. I wanted to get in the car. I had more value to give. I then tried product management and was lucky to work for a small division in telecom. I felt like a high tech janitor. And when you try to do everything, you don’t really do anything right to some degree. But in the end, that was all great training ground. My most challenging job, the one I didn’t like the most, was the most beneficial.

Chris: When you do the drug discovery business, 20 to 30 new drugs are approved each year. The more I stepped back, the more I realized my passion was about connecting and empowering rather than being an adventurer and discoverer. I began looking for ways to impact the company, writing strategies on how to create this hub, referring to how to move things along. And advancing the technology to beat cancer I get such joy out of being part of that.

Kevin: I worked for IBM and became one of the glorified gophers for the chairman’s office. Years later, I was sitting in a boardroom seeing a patient system that was broken. It was just so bad. It was a great and fabulous company, but at that point, I realized I wanted to go somewhere smaller.

Maria, FlexPod is a platform. Solutions die very quickly. You created a platform that was able to evolve, and you won an ASAP award several years ago because you took the time to get it right.

Maria: At NetApp, we do it similarly to what Kevin has described [see Part 2 of this blog series]. We step back, ask “what is the value we are delivering,” and hold ourselves to a higher level of thinking.

Celine: I would advocate to go faster and refrain from overthinking. In pharma, every step becomes huge and complicated. It’s as if it feeds itself with its own complexity. We spend more time building than actually doing it. It’s important to realize when perfection is needed, and when it is not.

Audience question from Luna of Belgium: How do you organize this? I understand that purpose, mastery, and a sense of perfection need to be everywhere. But do you create mastery throughout the organization, or do you create the silo for really good professionals? What is the tradeoff between mastery and autonomy? The silo is so natural for pharma.

Chris: Bayer went through a transformation of its alliance structure years ago. There are other parts of the organization in alliance management, and now we are starting to develop best practices and work with them. There are different frameworks within the organization. We’ve also started talking about rolling out trainings that we think are valuable for this transformation.

Maria: I work for companies where alliances are spread out, corporate strategic alliances are all over the map. HP brought the question to a leadership council and surveyed top strategic alliances. At the end of the day, [leadership recognized that] we need to stop having four to five people calling us from your company, and the decision they made was to pick new patterns from a management standpoint. It’s very different to manage everything strategically.

Kevin: It shouldn’t just be executives making decisions. You want to find the right people who have a great viewpoint, such as a systems engineer, and you pull them in. You need to find the knowledge workers to help your collaboration. You have to find the right people. Executives are not looking at all of the details every day.

Celine: There’s often a long debate in companies about quality belonging to the quality department. Actually, quality belongs to everyone who wants to own it. Co-create the purpose. It’s attractive to be co-owned. Anyone who feels they can contribute to the way we work is welcome. Boundaries become less important. What is important is how motivated and connected people are in the organization. Instead of appointing teams, we called for volunteers and asked why they wanted to lead the change initiative. We ended up with a team of 25. The jury, which is made up of half volunteers and half leaders, needed to focus on emotional intelligence and a willingness to help. It’s a peer-to-peer network. People want to make a difference. When you tap into this pool, you achieve miracles.

This concludes ASAP Media’s three-blog series covering the Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.  http://membersstrategicalliances.site-ym.com/blogpost/1143942/ASAP-Blog

Tags:  alliances  Bayer  BeyondTrust  Celine Schillinger  Chris Haskell  frameworks  Kevin Hickey  Maria Olson  NetApp  network  product management  Sanofi Pasteur  strategic alliances 

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