Lloyd's perspective on the question of "when to launch" is informed by Schwartz's work over the years with what we believe to be the PR industry's largest portfolio of medical device clients. A small sampling of our work, which has reached patients, physicians, payors, advocacy groups, hospital management and others, includes introductions of:
- Philips Medical Systems HeartStart home defibrillator - Cyberonics VNS Therapy for pharmacoresistant epilepsy and VNS Therapy for treatment-resistant depression - NxStage System One portable home hemodialysis machine - CYTYC (now Hologic) ThinPrep Pap test - Hologic Cervista HPV test
He notes that product launches are like "one-pitch softball--you only get the one pitch to swing at. It's not going to happen again in the product's lifetime. So it behooves the healthcare PR pro to closely examine all possible alternatives in terms of timing and effectiveness." Lloyd believes that the received wisdom among many medical device executives causes them to allow that singular PR opportunity to pass them by, effectively turning what could be a chance to reach tens of millions of people into just another press release that crosses the wires unnoticed.
Take a look at the white paper, or drop the Schwartz Healthcare Practice a note if you'd like to talk more about product introductions, seeding the market before regulatory approval, raising awareness of a product already on the market or revitalizing an established brand. We look forward to talking about your company's communications needs.
The Schwartz Digital team has been busy as of late creating videos and podcasts for our healthcare clients. It's great that these services have been so well received--I personally think it's indicative of widespread understanding among the types of companies Schwartz represents that there's way more to telling a story than issuing a press release and getting covered in BioWorld or Medical Device Daily. (Not that we don't love and value those publications, because we certainly do.)
Here's a recent video for client Phytel that shows how a clinic is using the company's technology to deliver coordinated patient care.
I imagine one of the things that's really forced marketers to consider video is the fact that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the US. It's safe to say that YouTube offers something for everyone, but built its reputation among consumers who were looking to be entertained, instructed or grossed out. By now, though, it seems that most companies have figured out that YouTube and other significant video sharing sites, like Vimeo, or even niche sites like TheDoctorsChannel, are in fact looked upon by their target customers as useful sources of information.
If you're the kind of person who appreciates numbers over anecdotal evidence, consult the 2009 Forbes/Google Report called "The Rise of the Digital C-Suite." It'll tell you that "text is king" when it comes to consumption of information by executives, "but online video is entering the C-suite's ranks." In fact, the report says, "27% of senior executives under the age of 50 cite web video as their preferred format for information gathering ...." [The report does note a generational split, with execs who are 50+ favoring text.]
So there's a general trend toward video. But how does it affect companies that mostly care to reach technical or scientific audiences? I suspect that video is going to be very interesting to them precisely because their stories can be so complex.
One thing Schwartz has always done with technical companies, stretching back to our first healthcare client 20 years ago, is help them translate their stories for consumption by a general audience. That ability is now, and always will be, I believe, a critical first step of any communications program.
But sometimes it really kills executives of science-driven companies to prepare their stories for relatively broad audiences. Not because they're unable to speak using terms that their mothers might understand; on the contrary, most are willing to lose the jargon when they need to. What obviously pains them is the thought of having to compress their stories to a few sentences in order to make them palatable to reporters, for example, while preserving the details that will catch the attention of the most knowledgeable audiences, such as other scientists or sophisticated investors.
I think video is a natural option for these companies because it can help them better project the things that make them unique--the researchers, the enthusiasm or images associated with their work--that they often lose, almost by necessity, in writing.
What do you think? Have you seen good examples of healthcare companies that don't market to patients or life sciences firms using video?