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8 non-negotiable PR steps for health innovators

Guide to health start-up PR

You have an innovation, you have the science, the data is compelling. Now go build a successful category-challenging business. It’s not easy, but the way you communicate can give you an extra advantage in the race to success.

We spent the last 18 months working with an industry-disrupting start-up called Awakn Life Sciences, a biotechnology company researching, developing, and delivering psychedelic therapeutics to treat addiction and other mental health disorders. There has been a significant shift in the way the world views psychedelics, so much so that a series of compounds once regarded as dangerous are now firm candidates to transform psychiatric health.

So, what distinct and significant role has PR played in this success, and what might other start-ups in health and technology learn from their journey?

  1. Collaboration. Science, scientists, and PR is an interesting mix. PR is not a science, and scientists are not always the greatest communicators. The process of listening, learning, and challenging are important for both parties. Data only tells some of the story. Lone voices in the darkness are not as powerful as a collective of voices with a shared vision. Complexity needs to be simplified into a real-world imperative. Choose a PR partner that will challenge you, bring their own ideas, share a vision for what you are doing. Don’t make it transactional. Look for a true partnership.

    While health systems, clinicians, payors, and consumers might want change, the reality is, like everyone, they are unsettled and suspicious of change. Before anyone communicates anything, setting a direction is paramount. Who are you, what are you trying to do, why does this matter, what will the future look like. Build your communications strategy around four principles: simple, segmented, relevant and differentiated. Define these elements and stick to them.

  2. Train the team. Everyone needs to be confident and of one voice. A star will emerge.

  3. Get involved outside your immediate echo chamber. Innovation and innovators need to break from their immediate circle of influence and collaborate and mix with a broader audience. Nobody lands on the moon alone. Build a wide circle of collaborators, advocates, and influencers to get you there.

  4. Have a media focus. It’s about quality not quantity. Find those journalists with a common agenda and make them part of your wider network. It’s not a one shot and you’re off. Work with them and keep them updated – frequently.

  5. Don’t expect perfection. Detractors will detract, those fearful of change will protest. The court of public opinion can be rough. Be persistent. Listen and learn. Flex and adapt.

  6. Experiment. You’re a start-up. Effecting change on a budget isn’t easy. Be smarter in the way you communicate, the content you share, and the channels you use.

  7. Coordinate. In an annual cycle, create a mix of set-piece activities alongside regular corporate and financial updates. Synchronise speaker opportunities and social.

  8. Invest. PR is not ‘free advertising’. It doesn’t happen by accident. It has a distinct and unique role. It will need funding. But done with intelligence and single-mindedness, it has the ability to change commercial and clinical environments.

Contact the team at EatMoreFruit Communications if you’d like a no obligation discussion about your plans and how PR can help you on your journey.

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