The days of using  media hits  to measure public relations success  are long gone, according to research-and-measurement expert Ann Getman, Principal of Getman Strategic Communications in Cambridge, MA. 
At a recent meeting of the Independent Practitioners Network of the Public Relations Society of  America’s Boston Chapter,  Getman, who works with companies and nonprofits, advised measuring outreach campaigns in three phases: outputs, outtakes, and outcomes.
Outputs
Outputs are “short-term quantitative measures of what was put out to target audiences, including process measures (activities directed at raising visibility) and product,”  Getman said. Outputs include events, meetings, appearances, presentations, trade shows, or press release, press kits, brochures, trade show booth, tweets and the like.
Traditionally, she  said,  PR  firms have measured their success by counting the number of times an organization’s name  appeared in print on broadcasts; column inches or length of broadcast;  potential exposures if every reader or viewer in the market saw the article or segment;  the comparable cost for  reaching as many people with paid ads;  or public opinion polls measuring awareness, opinion and intent at one point in time.
Outtakes
A more effective measure, in her view,   is of  “outtakes.”  That is, what audiences take away from the communication–whether messages were received, understood, recalled or retained.
 Outtakes may be  measured through direct responses via mail,  phone, fax, email or  Web pages; letters to an editor, organization or individual; calls to a hotline or 800-number;  recall and retention studies; visits to an office, program or site,  reported intent to behave in a certain way;  requests for information or materials; visits to a question and answer or FAQ page on a Web site, focus groups demonstrating a change of awareness; “before and after” surveys, or mentions in blogs.
Content analysis assigns quantitative values to the key elements of messages in order to measures changes in the tone, language or topics of media coverage; accuracy of key facts and points, or  sources cited. 
Outcomes
Outcome research, Getman says, measures the impact of communications programs on behavior and how well a campaign has fulfilled an organization’s  objectives in launching it. Was there a change in the communications flow, employee participation or retention? Were desired actions taken by opinion leaders? Have donations increased?  Response rate to direct mail improved?  Was the quality of job applicants effected?   The amount and quality of media coverage? What about the company’s market position,  customer awareness levels or recognition of its name?
Getman says it’s important to include measurement in a communications campaign before allocating resources for outreach. ” It’s impossible –and disingenuous–  to attach meaningful measures after the fact, and knowing in advance how you’ll evaluate will keep you on target and in focus.” 
I find that my clients m are sometimes  tempted to look directly at the bottom line in measuring success:  has increased media coverage led directly to increased sales?   Depending on the product and the type of company,  the answer is, sometimes, “yes.”
But, more  often, the coverage leads to Web hits or inquiries;  if the right audiences have been  targeted, it’s then up to the sales team to bring the customers in.
At times, though, it’s difficult to quantify just what led to a specific goal.
For example,  after a conference for which I garnered  national and international media coverage, my client, a small research institute,  received a  multimillion dollar grant from a health insurance company to launch a new research center.  Did the increased visibility and prestige help
Probably. Would the hoped-for grant have come through anyway? Much as I believe in quantifying success…that’s something we will never know.

Anita Harris

Anita M. Harris is president of the Harris Communications Group, a public relations and marketing communications firm in Cambridge, MA.

Advertisements

Earlier this month, I attended  a great MIT Enterprise Forum  discussion on new medical devices designed to provide low cost tests far from laboratories or medical centers, in the developing world.

At the meeting, held by the Forum’s Health Care and Life Science Special Interest Group at the British Consulate in Cambridge,  former Mass Biotechnology Council  President Una Ryan described the paper-based  medical testing technology that her new nonprofit enterprise,  Diagnostics for All  (DFA), has licensed from the George Whitesides Lab, at Harvard.

The technology allows bodily fluid to accumulate in patterns on postage-stamp sized pieces of paper–to be used for  multiple  tests simultaneously. DFA’s first project, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a liver function test to monitor the effects of drugs for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, to help manage viral hepatitis. Such tests, which ordinarily require laboratory evaluation, will first be sold in convenience stores in Africa at a cost of approximately ten cents each, Ryan said.

Bill Rodriguez, CEO of Daktari Diagnostics, showed a handheld, point of care, battery-operated diagnostics device the size of a small lunch box or portable radio that will first be used to test for AIDS in Africa–at a cost of $1.50 per test–starting next year. He pointed out that while drugs are available to treat the  33 million people worldwide who have  HIV– “ten million of them don’t know it.”

Scientia Advisors Partner Arshad Ahmed, who  served as moderator, (and is my client) pointed out in a recent blog that emerging markets may have the opportunity to adopt the latest point-of-care products, leapfrogging developed countries, in some instances–and that “emerging markets are where we will see the first application of low cost and inovative disruptive technologies at work.” Launching in the developing world allows companies to test out and market technologies before going through the rigorous approval process required in the developed world.

I was blown away by the prospects for  devices like these and asked when and how they will affect the  costs and structure of, say, US healthcare–and whether those who make and market our costly technologies will try to keep these new testing devices out.  While Ryan, whose nonprofit will have a commercial wing, responded that she does not expect opposition from stakeholders in our current system. But can that possibly be right?

Anita M. Harris

Anita M. Harris is President of the Harris Communications Group, a marketing and public relations firm specializing in health, science and technology industries, worldwide.


Pharma execs with blockbuster drugs on the market should be up staying at night strategizing in case someone comes up with a “companion diagnostic” that the FDA requires before the blockbuster  can be prescribed.

So write Scientia Advisors authors Amit Agarwal and Jonathan Pan in “Theranostics and Already Approved Drugs: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” published in the 2010-2011 Parexel Yearbook.

Disclosure: Scientia is my client.

In the article, Agarwal, partner, and Pan, senior associate, describe the situation that led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require warning labels and recommend diagnostic testing for the blockbuster drug Plavix more than 10 years after the anti-thrombotic hit the market.  Plavix is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis to prevent myocardiofaction (MI) or strokes.

As early as 2001, when Plavix had been on the market for four years, studies began to show that Plavix helped certain patients more than others, the authors write. By 2008, genetic testing by a competing pharmaceutical company showed that nearly one-third of Plavix users did not fully benefit from the drug.  Based on these and other trial results, in 2010 the FDA required that the manufacturers include a “black box” warning label and a diagnostic testing recommendation for the product.

In 2009, Plavix had worldwide sales of $9.5B including $5.6 B in the US. As a result of the FDA diagnostic testing recommendation, the authors project that by 2012, BMS and Sanofi Aventis will lose $450M to $575M in sales in the US alone– and more if regulators in other nations add requirements. “Given the need to maximize revenue in the face of generic competition across their portfolios, it is a significant amount to offset.” Other drugs, prescribed in conjunction with Plavix, will also most likely be impacted.

Agarwal and Pan recommend a number of actions that pharmaceutical executives can take to mitigate such potential post-launch losses.

  • Expand competitive landscape and threat assessment coverage to monitor the diagnostic environment for new research and clinical trials which could potentially impact the sales of marketed drugs
  • Upgrade skills, capabilities, reporting relationships and the organizational clout of the theranostic function
  • Develop organizational structures that allow knowledge of new biomarkers and clinical trials to reach commercial decision makers

Scientia Advisors’ article is available in the PAREXEL’s Bio/Pharma R&D Statistical Sourcebook 2010/2011 at Barnett Educational Services.

—Anita M. Harris, President, Harris Communications Group

Scientia Advisors, located in Boston and San Francisco, is a management consulting firm specializing in growth strategies for major and emerging companies in health care, life sciences, biotechnology and nutrition.

HarrisComBlog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group, an award-winning public relations and marketing communications firm in Cambridge, MA.


A new review by my client, Scientia Advisors, finds that, with the market for biologic  drugs growing much faster than that of drugs based on chemical compounds, many biopharma companies are repositioning and forming new alliances in order to succeed in a rapidly changing pharmaceutical landscape.

In the review, released today, Scientia reports that revenue growth for the small molecule (chemically-based) drug segment has slowed and will begin to decline within three years as numerous blockbuster drugs go off patent and are replaced by less expensive generic substitutes.

In contrast, the market for biologics (based on living matter) which comprises approximately one-third of the overall pharmaceutical market, increased at a 21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2003 and 2008, to $110B.

While the CAGR for biologics has since slowed to 8%, Scientia projects 2013 revenues of $165B, due largely to rapid growth in monoclonal antibodies. Scientia also projects growth opportunities in the vaccine and cell therapy segments.

Many biologics command relatively high prices and require complex and expensive manufacturing processes. To keep costs down, biopharmaceutical companies are increasingly seeking to outsource their manufacturing to contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs).

 In addition, “numerous biologic therapies with total revenues of $37B will have lost patent protection by 2017, promising considerable opportunity in biosimilars (government-approved new versions of branded biopharmaceutical products following patent expiration),” Glorikian said. “As a result, pharmaceutical, generic drug, and contract manufacturing companies are joining forces to enter the biosimilars space. To be successful, they must take into account the considerable technical, competitive, and regulatory hurdles that will be involved.”

Scientia Advisors’ review, entitled “Assessing the Biopharmaceutical Market: Promises and Challenges,” is available for download at no charge from www.scientiaadv.com.

–Anita M. Harris

HarriscomBlog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group–a public relations, content and thought leadership firm in Cambridge, MA.  We also publish New Cambridge Observer.


A new global review from my client, Scientia Advisors , predicts rapid growth in molecular diagnostics and that,  with traditional pharma companies slow to innovate, a myriad of new entrants vying for market share will change the healthcare landscape.

(Molecular diagnostics are genetic tests used to judge the effectiveness of  particular treatments for individual patients–key to the burgeoning new field of personalized medicine).

Released earlier this month  (and available for download at no charge at www  scientiaadv.com)  the review projects that MDx will grow at  an annually compounded rate 15% to approximately $7.5B in 2013.

Currently, molecular tests used for oncology and critical care infectious diseases are experiencing the fastest growth among MDx segments.

“Ultimately, MDx will enhance care, cut health care costs and make personalized medicine a worldwide reality,” said Scientia Advisors Managing Partner Harry Glorikian.

Among other major findings:

  • The industry is transitioning away from low-cost, low-margin tests. New, “high-value” MDx tests are changing the health care paradigm by providing critical information to physicians more quickly and accurately than was previously possible.
  • While most MDx revenue is currently generated in the US and Europe, future growth will be most pronounced in the developing world.
  •  New, easy-to-use, random access and fast-turnaround-time MDx platforms are enabling widespread adoption of MDx in small and mid-sized hospitals, worldwide.
  • Companies seeking to enter the MDx field must be cognizant that, with the growing impact of MDx, government oversight and regulation will likely increase and reimbursement policies will evolve to reflect added value.

Scientia Advisors is a global management consulting firm specializing in growth strategies for companies in health care, life sciences, biotechnology and nutrition, world wide. The firm is based in Boston and San Francisco.

—Anita M. Harris

HarrisCom Blog is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.

%d bloggers like this: