Biopharma R&D has always been time-consuming, expensive, and non-linear. However, it is through this process that incredible therapies are born. Currently, hundreds of medicines are clawing their way through preclinical studies and clinical trials. Some will ultimately prevail.
Unfortunately, recent economic stressors are challenging this pipeline, forcing many companies to make tough strategic decisions and unprecedented cuts to R&D programs. Raising capital without a commercial product is now incredibly difficult. And without that investment, the biopharmaceutical engine cannot rev.
While we can’t change the macro landscape, there are certain strategic moves that pre-commercial companies can make to garner attention, create traction, and potentially secure fresh resources. Those moves center around communications.
Becoming a visible leader
Very few pre-commercial biopharma companies have dedicated marketing roles within their organization…and for good reason. Until the FDA approves their device or therapeutic, there isn’t a product to actually market. But there is a story to tell. And beyond the need for research, finance, and human resources, stakeholders also desire regular communication.
This strategic approach to communications is the X-factor driving the success of many pre-commercial organizations across the biopharmaceutical industry. It includes heavy doses of public relations and content.
We often talk to prospective clients who know they must add public relations (PR) to their pre-commercial efforts. But they often speak only of press releases, clinical milestones and perhaps an obligatory LinkedIn post to accompany the news. Public relations can and should be much more comprehensive. If companies take it seriously, it can be pivotal in shaping the perception of pre-commercial biopharma orgs. This can be seen through successful engagement with investors, strategic partners, and even patient audiences.
Here are three ways to illustrate the impact and meaningful results a strategic communications program can deliver for pre-clinical and clinical biopharma companies.
- Building Trust: One of the core benefits of public relations for pre-commercial companies is the opportunity to build credibility with key stakeholders. By committing to a thought leadership program, organizations and their employees can establish themselves as industry leaders and subject matter experts. Even early in pre-commercial days, when only 5-100 employees are on-board, there is much to discuss. We counsel clients to maximize opportunities to share scientific advancements, research findings, and scientific expertise through the media, podcasts, speaking engagements, bylines, and features in overview articles on industry trends. All enhance the company’s reputation and instill confidence in investors, industry partners, and the general public, including future patients. Of note: These tactics impact the short-term and are forever searchable online as a record of your leadership.
- Managing Reputation: In the agency world, we believe that if you don’t take control of your brand, the market will do it for you. Similarly, it is critical for biopharmaceutical organizations to articulate and disseminate accurate and positive information clearly. These are very complex topics that can be easily misunderstood, so controlling the narrative surrounding the science and clinical trials can mitigate potential risks and address any misconceptions or potential negative reactions. Crises will continue to arise, and trials will continue to fail, but when the market understands a company’s long game and points of differentiation, the negative effects can be minimized.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Securing funding and establishing strategic partnerships are critical steps for bringing new therapies to the market. Public relations can play a pivotal role in attracting the attention of potential investors, venture capitalists, industry development and licensing partners, patient advocacy groups, and more. By effectively communicating the organization’s scientific breakthroughs, market potential, and clear value proposition, PR efforts can create a compelling case for many stakeholders.
To do this effectively, having a social media strategy is extremely valuable. This is done by understanding and engaging your core online stakeholders and communities from corporate and executive channels. The catch: Social media should not be used as a company-owned megaphone of self-serving news. It’s an opportunity to share perspectives and to build community, recognizing other groups in your space and sharing the spotlight with them. Companies and people must showcase purpose and character beyond self-serving agendas.
In the highly competitive and complex world of biopharmaceuticals, pre-commercial organizations face unique challenges in establishing themselves as credible and trustworthy entities. As part of a larger strategic communications plan, public relations offers a powerful toolset to expand visibility, build credibility, further your missions, and navigate common obstacles. Investing in strategic communications initiatives and finding a partner with industry expertise can help (you sleep well at night!).
Test a communications agency’s technical and creative abilities to find the right fit. Gauge if and how they can help shape a compelling narrative around your science and technology and ask how they might handle an early approach to building the patient story. In an industry driven by scientific innovation and societal impact, a robust communications strategy is a required pillar of pre-commercial biopharmaceutical organizations striving to make a difference in patients’ lives worldwide.
How does a strategic communications plan play out in the real world? We’re so glad you asked! Drop us a note for case studies or to speak with our biopharma communications experts.