October 17, 2018
These days, pharma and health/tech investment communicators can feel they're playing the 1970s classic arcade game Whac-A-Mole. The game resembles professional life - the relentless business urgencies that pop-up suddenly and require urgent response. For investor relations (IR) professionals, business issues often pop up with the same unpredictable frequency as those pesky toy moles:
- volatile markets
- tax legislation
- regulation and legal issues
- fund raising
Moment-to-moment efforts can be so focused on “whacking” down issues that we overlook how to best communicate in anticipation of those moments. These days “how” an organization communicates to the Street is as important as “what” is communicated. A seasoned IR professional once argued with me that the Street cares only about financial performance -- not the content and presentation of that information. “Let the numbers speak for themselves!” However, in healthcare, beyond numbers, there are multiple success factors that convey a company's wellbeing - from clinical trials underway to formulary position to Part D status to indications sought to unmet patient access needs addressed.
Beyond numbers, there’s a science to conveying healthcare IR news. Incorporating C-Suite thought-leadership techniques into financial communications strengthens shareholder relationships and improves value. Health analysts and savvy shareholders are looking beyond script trends and new scripts to determine longer-term value. A loss of preferred Part D formulary status or a great med/tech advance that struggles to obtain a Joint Commission accreditation, can imperil a great company. Even today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking at pricing as an incentive tool to limit use of drugs that require greater thought before prescribed. IR pros are becoming suddenly PR, policy and reputation experts to navigate possible marketplace storms. The board game mallet is being put aside for communication and public affairs plans that address how to keep toy moles from impacting corporate reputation and valuation.
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