Your clinical study has just been accepted by a top publication on your tier 1 list or at your industry’s leading medical conference. The results of the study reinforce the value of your treatment or therapy. You want to get the word out beyond the publication subscribers or meeting attendees, but how? What is the best way to get the results of the study to physicians, patients, investors, strategics or other key audiences?
Whether the results are for your company’s newest or market-leading product, it’s important to support each data publication or presentation thoughtfully and properly with the right messaging and tactics based on your unique situation. While many companies turn to a press release, there are many other tools in the playbook that should be part of the communications cascade to ensure you’re taking full advantage of the opportunity.
A news or press release is often the foundation of clinical trial results announcements. The release provides a concise vehicle to summarize the news and provide perspective from the company and relevant opinion leaders, such as the lead investigator of the study. When issued over a wire, such as BusinessWire – which we always recommend, the release also meets financial disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies and increases search visibility for the company and product.
Whether the results are for your company’s newest or market-leading product, it’s important to support each data publication or presentation thoughtfully and properly with the right messaging and tactics based on your unique situation.
As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, however, simply issuing a press release is not enough to reach your target audiences. Thousands of releases are issued over wire services each day, so it’s important to reach out to target media via email and phone to support the announcement and secure coverage. Two key considerations for media outreach are spokespeople and timing:
Examples of our client study announcements include Medtronic clinical trial results published in The Lancet. The news release and our media outreach efforts resulted in more than 160 million media impressions, including top tier outlets like WebMD, U.S. News and World Report and Yahoo! Health. Recently, we worked with Lumicell to announce simultaneous publication of pivotal study results in NEJM Evidence and presentation at the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) annual meeting. A press release combined with embargoed and day-of outreach resulted in more than 40 articles totaling over 16 million media impressions.
While many companies turn to a press release, there are many other tools in the playbook that should be part of the communications cascade to ensure you’re taking full advantage of the opportunity.
For each announcement, we develop a social media content calendar that includes planned content that starts the morning of the release and can continue for several weeks. Content often includes a link to the release on the company’s website, quotes from media coverage with a link to the stories and key data points with a link to the publication or release. Because studies have shown that images significantly increase engagement on social media posts, we always recommend a combination of photos, social tiles, infographics and videos/gifs related to the posts. For Boston Scientific, we created an infographic, gif and corresponding social tiles to amplify the five-year outcomes of an important clinical trial to urologists on the company’s social channels.
It’s important to include the study information on your website. We work with some clients to develop study-specific pages to share detailed study design and results as part of their corporate websites. For other clients, we add important study content to their owned channels. Many clients simply post the press release in the website’s newsroom. Some companies use a service that automatically adds the press release to the website when it is distributed over the wire. For companies that handle their own website updates, we always recommend that each release has its own page to help with organic search rankings and to be able to measure traffic to the page.
Developing a toolkit with template materials for the clinical trial sites can help broaden the reach of the news and generate local market interest. This is especially powerful when it’s a multi-center study conducted in many cities. At a minimum, the toolkit should include a template news release and social media posts, along with images and videos, as appropriate. Other content to consider includes a fact sheet about the clinical trial to share with consumer media, as well as hospital newsletter articles targeted at both consumers and physicians.
In addition to the earned and social media activities described above, paid or sponsored opportunities targeting physician or patient audiences can extend the reach and life of the study results for several months. Mat releases and sponsored content opportunities enable dissemination of company-crafted messages about the study. When Penumbra’s clot removal technology for stroke was part of a major study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, we developed a mat release that included tips for surviving stroke, perspectives from a patient and a physician and information about the technology. The story generated more than 1,100 placements with an audience exceeding 53 million site visitors.
Companies invest considerably in conducting clinical studies to demonstrate their products’ safety and efficacy, and leveraging the results can be a once-in-a-product lifetime opportunity.
Additional communications activities to consider include study summaries or webinars to share results with physician audiences, as well as emails to directly share the news with employees, investors, partners, advocacy groups or other key audiences about the study results. We often work with our clients to leverage MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and other marketing automation platforms to distribute the news directly to key company contacts.
Companies invest considerably in conducting clinical studies to demonstrate their products’ safety and efficacy, and leveraging the results can be a once-in-a-product lifetime opportunity. Make sure to plan ahead on a strategy that will help you meet your marketing and communications goals. Depending on the strategic approach and your company’s review processes, planning for a study announcement is ideally started a month or more before the anticipated publication/presentation date. Not sure where to start? Contact us to discuss a communications playbook tailored to your announcement.