|PUBLIC RELATIONS / BRANDING
Direct Flow Medical is an emerging player in the ultra-competitive transcatheter valve market dominated by much larger companies with valves on the market, such as Medtronic and Edwards Lifesciences, and other pre-commercial large entrants such as St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific. As a David competing with Goliaths, the company had one key differentiator – a novel polymer valve design that greatly improved outcomes over their competitors. Entering the market well behind better known companies, Direct Flow Medical had a significant challenge in generating mind share. Our solution was two-fold: 1) create a distinct look-and-feel at congresses that was warmer and more personal than the larger companies could achieve, and 2) focus PR efforts around key clinical and regulatory milestones that demonstrated momentum and capitalized on the unique design, unprecedented outcomes and David vs. Goliath story. The result was a volume of industry and cardiology feature articles touting the excellent design-driven clinical results, positive analyst reports touting the company as the #3 player after Edwards and Medtronic, and increasing physician adoption of the novel technology.
SinuSys had developed a unique treatment for sinusitis, which affects 31 million Americans each year – the Vent-Os Sinus Dilation System, which incorporates a tiny capsule – the size of a grain of rice – that uses osmosis to gently expand and open blocked sinus passages in one, short doctor’s visit. The technology required a simple value proposition to explain the unusual concept of osmosis in a medical device. Working with the company from early clinicals through FDA clearance and commercialization, Chronic Communications built visibility and momentum for the company with trade and industry media, resulting in major feature stories with Medical Device Daily, Medtech Insight, MassDevice, The Medtech Strategist and many others. Once adoption began, the firm began reaching out directly to patients to inform them of a kinder, gentler alternative to sinus surgery and a healthier option than repeated rounds of medication. Using multiple channels, including video news release, matte release, social media, press releases and local and national media relations, the Vent-Os story is reaching patients via television stations, newspapers and devices nationwide.
VertiFlex, a developer of minimally invasive spinal stenosis solutions, was not getting the response from investors or strategics that it desired; the company’s story was not effectively knitting together the emerging products in its portfolio. By positioning the technology as a proprietary spinal access platform with multiple applications, an effective value proposition was developed. We also recommended that the company directly address the reputation of the interspinous spacer market – which had been tainted by an earlier competitor – rather than hiding from it. By highlighting the large market demand that had been uncovered by the other company and that could be tapped for their solution, we were able to turn a negative into a positive. This enhanced story and associated messages were incorporated into a new corporate presentation within the span of three weeks. According to the CEO, the result was immediate: increased credibility and an increased number of follow-up meetings with investors and strategics.
Edwards had developed the first technology to replace an aortic heart valve without open heart surgery, the SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve. It was critical for the company to create and maintain clinical credibility prior to approval to ensure no FDA delays. The focus was put on clinical and regulatory milestones, especially the PARTNER pivotal trial. Coordinating with 25 trial sites to synchronize messages and PR, and working only with trial investigators as spokespersons, a half-billion highly positive media impressions were achieved touting the impressive clinical results. In addition, European SAPIEN sales grew 250%, spurred by the significant positive visibility flowing from the U.S. Another important element of the pre-approval work was ensuring that the communication was inclusive of both the interventional cardiologist and the cardiovascular surgeon.
|MATURE PRODUCT PROMOTION
Mature businesses with few new products must still drive revenue; such was the case with ArthroCare’s soft tissue ablation technology – Coblation – which needed a catalyst for adoption and sales. We targeted Moms – who drive a family’s health care decisions – as well as otolaryngologists, and positioned the procedure as a “kinder, gentler tonsillectomy.” With nothing new to leverage, we created our own news by partnering with the American Academy of Otolaryngology and a survey firm to query Moms and primary care physicians about the myths of tonsillectomy. By showing the disconnect between what both Moms and doctors believed about tonsillectomy and what advanced technology had brought to the procedure, we were able to create news in local markets nationwide and a positive social media presence. The news also served as the foundation for a robust physician education campaign. Subsequently, the company CEO credited the campaign for driving 70% sales growth and rejuvenating the business.
A leader in ophthalmic diagnostics based in Germany, Carl Zeiss Meditec felt its U.S. presence was viewed as stuffy and conservative, and the company was not getting credit for its eye care leadership. A repositioning campaign was developed – messages highlighting innovation were created, physician spokespersons that benefitted from the innovations were harnessed, and many feature articles were placed demonstrating the company’s innovations and benefits. After one year, the company vaulted from being an industry afterthought to being recognized among the top five in ophthalmology in article after article.
Edwards had a good reputation but wanted a clearer brand that reflected its commitment to patients and employees, while also embracing its innovative spirit. A new brand essence was created as a result: “Innovation + Humanity.” New language was developed highlighting the company’s passion, and pointing to its advancements. New brand guidelines were developed to encourage more warmth and creativity in marketing materials, and create more consistency globally. Finally, a new corporate ad capturing the refreshed brand essence was created, which featured a warm, engaging image paired with language highlighting Edwards’ focus on innovation. The new brand was well received both inside and outside the company.