Focus on Fundamentals: Launching Ernst & Young’s Biotechnology Book
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Focus on Fundamentals: Launching Ernst & Young’s Biotechnology Book

Ernst & Young, one of the nation’s pre-eminent professional services firms, wanted to use its annual biotechnology report which provides in-depth analysis of the industry in the United States to further enhance its reputation as a corporate leader in the

Paul Holmes

Ernst & Young, one of the nation’s pre-eminent professional services firms, wanted to use its annual biotechnology report which provides in-depth analysis of the industry in the United States to further enhance its reputation as a corporate leader in the biotechnology marketplace.  Building on the success of the 2000 launch, Ernst & Young again approached FischerHealth (formerly Fischer & Partners) to create a strategic media relations campaign to launch its latest study, “Focus on Fundamentals: Ernst & Young’s Biotechnology Industry Report,” to position its partners and strengthen its corporate reputation in the marketplace across the United States.

Research/Challenges

As a result of top-line research conducted over the summer of 2001, the team created a strategic program to capitalize on the news surrounding President Bush’s announcement on stem cell research and the heightened coverage surrounding the cloning debate to launch Ernst & Young’s report and to further position its leaders as experts in this space. 
 
Based on our research, the pre-launch date to release “Focus on Fundamentals” was slated for the week of September 10. Due to the unexpected “Attack on America,” the team had to regroup and determine a new strategy for disseminating this information.  After giving much thought to the sensitivity of media during this time, and balancing the need to disseminate this information in a timely manner, the team set a new launch date of October 5, 2001, surrounding a key biotechnology conference in Washington D.C., where Ernst & Young was presenting. This would give Ernst & Young the opportunity to make its announcement at a key conference and to go out to the media with some “good news” about the state of the biotechnology industry.  Findings from the report showed that despite the recent downturn in the public markets, biotech companies are in the best financial shape of their 25-year history, a contrasting perspective to the economic climate at the time.

The agency fee budget for the launch was $15,000 per month.

Planning/Objectives

An agency specializing in healthcare communications, FischerHealth had a strong base of knowledge from which to develop a highly targeted media campaign.  In working closely with Ernst & Young’s public relations staff across the U.S., the team was able to maximize resources to increase visibility and results.

Program goals were:
· Continue to strengthen the reputation of Ernst & Young and its partners as life science thought leaders.
· Increase awareness for Ernst & Young’s annual biotechnology report through placements in key business, daily and trade publications.
· Reinforce Ernst & Young’s leadership position in the life sciences industry.

Based on FischerHealth’s knowledge of the biotechnology marketplace and research provided by Ernst & Young detailing the industry, the team established the following target markets: business media (both regional and national), trade media, biotechnology and pharmaceutical company executives, life science industry thought leaders and financial industry leaders---venture capital firms, investment bankers, brokers/analysts.

Strategic Approach

Recognizing that the media landscape had changed as a result of September 11, the team implemented a tiered media strategy that leveraged a biotechnology industry conference (BioVenture) as a platform to launch the report, followed by targeted pitch efforts to major biotechnology sectors such as San Francisco and Boston.  A national press release highlighting findings from the book was drafted, while regional data was identified from which to tailor the press release for use in local markets. FischerHealth also prepared a media training presentation for all potential spokespersons, both regional and national, to keep messaging consistent.  In addition, the team crafted regional fact sheets with key statistics and findings from the book, to assist reporters as they prepared stories for their markets.  These materials were also utilized by Ernst & Young’s global PR network where the individual public relations managers tailored them to fit their market.

While media efforts were national in scope, additional emphasis was placed on the key biotechnology regions: San Francisco Bay area, Boston area, Research Triangle (NC), San Diego and Seattle.  The FischerHealth team consisted of a senior vice president, vice president, senior account executive, associate account executive and an administrative assistant.

Campaign Execution

Pre-Launch—Introducing the Biotechnology Report
In August and early September, the team developed the strategic plan for the biobook launch and developed media materials (a national press release, regional releases, pitch letters (national and regional), media training materials and fact sheets.  To build excitement for the launch internally and enhance visibility of the practice group, FischerHealth participated in an internal Ernst & Young conference for life science practice leaders and outlined launch strategies.  The team used the opportunity to prepare media spokespersons and reinforce the importance of local experts to support regional pitch efforts.  Once the new date for the launch was set, the team engaged in pre-pitching major business publications such as Associated Press, USA Today and Washington Times to attend Ernst & Young’s presentation at BioVenture in Washington D.C. on October 5, 2001.

Launch---Expanding the Reach
On October 5, 2001 a national wire press release was distributed, coinciding with BioVenture.  At the BioVenture presentation, Ernst & Young provided complimentary copies of the report to the media.  Regional spokesperson, Rene Salas, participated in a number of onsite interviews before and after his presentation.  As a result, FischerHealth secured 10 outlets to attend the briefing resulting in stories with Associated Press, Washington Post, Venturereporter.com and the Baltimore Sun.  Simultaneous to the wire release the team initiated regional and trade outreach efforts. As a result of our efforts, the team received multiple phone calls and e-mails from media, healthcare executives, potential new clients for Ernst & Young, students and professors throughout the world. Coverage from our pitch efforts was secured across the world in leading business publications and resulted in more than 296 million impressions in a two-month timeframe in 2001. 

Post-Launch---Maintaining Awareness
Following the launch, the team used breaking biotechnology industry events and financial market news to continue to position Ernst & Young thought leaders.  One pitch capitalized on Amgen’s acquisition of Immunex to spur interviews with authors of “Focus on Fundamentals: Ernst & Young’s Biotechnology Industry Report” and to discuss this trend.  The team also offered up key spokespersons to discuss 2002 trends and the outlook for biotechnology.  As a result, FischerHealth secured interest with outlets such as Dow Jones, CNNmoney.com, Reuters and Boston Business Journal. 

The team also worked to sustain momentum for the report by offering reporters who covered biotechnology a complementary copy to use as a reference and to quote in their stories.  In fact, if you go into the news library of leading papers such as the San Jose Mercury News, you will find a copy of Ernst & Young’s report on its shelve, and many reporters now refer to it as the “Bible” of biotechnology.   As we entered 2002, the team has been successful in sustaining momentum for Ernst & Young’s report and in positioning its spokespersons as leaders in this sector.  Our media impressions have continued to skyrocket to well over 300 million to date. 

Results

Program measurements are based on media coverage, both quantitatively and qualitatively.  Overall, the team secured media impressions (readers) in excess of 296 million in two months. In addition to media placements, Ernst & Young thought leaders gained a stronger position with the media and several new clients were introduced to the firm via the efforts.

Secured 231 articles in excess of 296 million media impressions in two months. Media placements were spread across key biotech and business outlets, and include:  The New York Times, Baltimore Sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, Associated Press, Atlanta Journal Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, Reuters News Service, The Scientist, Boston Globe, CNNfn, Dallas Morning News, Dow Jones, Genetic Engineering News, Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Daily News, Red Herring, San Jose Mercury News, Thestreet.com, Time, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Yahoo!

Arranged interviews for U.S. Ernst & Young national practice leaders with reporters outside the United States in areas such as China, Canada, London, Europe, India, and Australia.  Placements secured include: Xinhua News Agency, The Toronto Star, The Independent, The Financial Times, European Investor.com, BCC online, The Hindu and The Australian. Further positioning the company as the leader in the biotech marketplace.

As a direct result of media mentions of the biotechnology book, Ernst & Young received inquiries from healthcare executives, potential new clients for Ernst & Young, as well as students and professors throughout the world, including Vasogen Inc., University of Baltimore, Bear Stearns, and Berkeley.

Ernst & Young thought leaders gained a stronger position with the media as demonstrated by the mass amount of continued proactive media calls from reporters requesting information post-launch about the biotech market segment. 

100 percent of articles specifically mentioned Ernst & Young and/or one of its life sciences partners, building the reputation of the company in the marketplace.

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