Rethinking Modern PR: Going Beyond the Press Release

3 min read

No one begrudges a life sciences company for wanting to bask in the limelight that validates your mission of improving patient lives and advancing healthcare. To be a media attention magnet feels good. It also helps bolster your stock price or investor interest, generates interest from innovative clinical partners, and attracts employee talent.

When it happens, everybody is happy. But what happens more often is this: The Board of Directors sees an article about something disruptive or important in your sector, yet your company isn’t mentioned—and they want to know why. Then the CEO is feeling the heat and is annoyed to be excluded—and have it acknowledged by the Board. Next, the CEO blasts an email to the PR team demanding they get a correction or new feature article to make sure the real story is told—one that includes the company front and center.

The desire for visibility for your life sciences company is appropriate and likely warranted. But as talented as many PR professionals are, they’re not magicians. Generating positive visibility requires a holistic PR plan that extends well beyond issuing the basic press release. Life sciences executives should be thinking about how to condition the market to recognize what’s missing, educate them on the ideal solution to transform their world to a better place, and drive adoption. This is what PR should be.

Yes, a press release can still be relevant and useful. They’re an excellent vehicle to make material announcements and celebrate milestones. Through digital distribution, they can serve as an effective tool to increase visibility through enhanced SEO. They can also land you on some prime real estate in a key publication.

But it's not enough today.

It is a noisy world out there and how we consume information and news has evolved. To increase your odds of success, you need a PR strategy that puts your key messages in the market, raises your profile, and builds momentum for your solution. Consider that modern PR strategies, which are largely built around digital outreach and dynamic content, may include any combination of these “PESO” tactics:

You have a lot of options to choose from, but what’s going to be most effective? It really comes down to knowing your audience, how to reach them, and how to be relevant. To make your job easier, we’ve created a cheat sheet for how to stack the odds in your favor.

Seven Tips for PR Success

  1. Know where to focus your efforts. How do you effectively intersect with and influence your target audience? It starts by understanding where the “go to” places are that your audience relies on to stay up to date on relevant news. This can vary by audience, so if you have various stakeholders make sure you account for that. If you’re trying to reach both a B2B and a B2C audience, also make sure your messaging (and relevance) is aligned with each.
  2. Do your homework. Be a student of your industry’s media outlets, writers, and editors. Study the outlets’ content. Review editorial calendars. Know which reporters are writing about what. Reach out to editors to start conversations about their content needs. Think about it in the context of making their job easier.
  3. Be a student of the news. Spend time each day with world, national, and trade news. Occasionally check out an industry-related podcast or video. Where does your message fit into what’s going on? Can your company leaders provide insights (“newsjack”) into anything current in the news? It’s about finding ways to be relevant—right now.
  4. Leave the work to the PR pros. It takes an experienced PR professional or team to develop and execute a strategy or campaign that results in sustained positive relationships between the company, industry, media, sales leads, and current customers. Don’t assume it’s something an intern can do by issuing press releases.
  5. Be sure your PR and marketing teams coordinate their efforts. Your sales, marketing, and PR professionals should all be working from the same messaging, aligned goals, and coordinated efforts. Break down silos and enable your teams to collaborate and in turn accelerate impact. Amplify reach by sharing social posts, news stories, etc. Encourage internal conversations around what are the most common questions the field is hearing, what seems to be resonating in the market, competitive intel, etc. These insights can be a source of new PR angles and initiatives.
  6. Measure results. Yes, measure PR results. There is an old (and unfounded) opinion that PR is not measurable. But it is—even if it may not align with traditional CFO-centric metrics. You can certainly see and measure the effects your PR and communication efforts have on your target audiences and how they align with the overall company objectives. This could include click-throughs to your website or landing page from a press release. You can track social engagement, open rates on e-newsletters, and media sentiment. PR measurement today is not a one-size-fit-all report, so customize a dashboard that aligns with your goals.
  7. Be patient and nimble. A PR plan is a long-term commitment with a number of well-choreographed tactics executed throughout the year. It’s not an event but a dynamic journey amid an ever-changing environment. A “set it and forget it” mentality has no place in PR.

If you want to learn more about how PR can play a role in your life science company’s success, ask Grey Matter Marketing to evaluate your PR strategy. We can help you have more to report to the Board than how many press releases were issued last quarter.

Want to kickstart your company's success through PR?

Grey Matter Marketing is a full-service, award-winning PR and marketing agency working exclusively with life sciences companies. Learn how you can build your public relations strategy that feels true to your company—and forges a real connection with your ideal customers in the process. Contact us and let us help you take your company to the next level.

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