Peptor: 1.6 Billion Media Impressions… and Still Counting
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Holmes Report

Peptor: 1.6 Billion Media Impressions… and Still Counting

The centerpiece of Booth’s initial program was an intensive international publicity campaign for a paper on DiaPep published in The Lancet, one of the world’s most respected medical journals.

Paul Holmes

Peptor, a small, private Israeli biopharmaceutical company with a blockbuster drug in development, turned to M Booth to help it accomplish two important and linked goals:  1) generate media enthusiasm for the promise of DiaPep277, its lead proprietary drug that has demonstrated an ability to halt the progression of type 1 diabetes in Phase II human trials, and 2) attract global pharmaceutical companies as licensing partners to market the drug around the world.  Currently there is no cure or effective treatment for type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes and rates of diagnoses are increasing dramatically around the world.  DiaPep277 is based on a peptide found on heat shock protein 60, a novel approach to curing or modulating a range of autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes.
The centerpiece of Booth’s initial program was an intensive international publicity campaign for a paper on DiaPep published in The Lancet, one of the world’s most respected medical journals.  By every measure, the campaign was an unbridled success:  more than one billion media impressions were generated in the week following publication of the paper, and on the basis of the publicity, four multinational pharmaceutical companies approached Peptor to begin partnership discussions about licensing DiaPep.
Booth faced significant challenges in positioning The Lancet paper on DiaPep with the world science and medical press corps.  First, the study design was small – only 30 patients.  Second, the trial was conducted outside the U.S.  Third, Peptor is privately held – making U.S. business media hard to capture.  Fourth, The Lancet, while respected, does not get much play in the U.S. media market.  And fifth, science and medical journalists – like the rest of the media – remained intensely distracted by the anthrax story and post-September 11 stories.
To plan and conduct a global media campaign, Booth needed to conduct deep research on the product, the disease, competitors, and competing drug technologies and to determine a priori how the diabetes research community regards the drug.  This meant an in-depth survey of literature on heat shock proteins, peptide therapies, and type 1 diabetes, and in-person interviews with diabetes research community leaders including opinion leaders, influential patient groups, the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  This research allowed us to develop a pool of independent, U.S.-based “endorsers” of the research, who were quoted in many of the resulting stories.
Booth researched Peptor’s competitors, their market position and their product results.  After determining that no one else had a type 1 diabetes drug that was both this promising and this far along in its development, we strengthened our media program to more unequivocally position the uniqueness and extraordinary promise of DiaPep.
Based on these learnings, we established the following objectives: 1) Raise awareness within the treatment community of the value of DiaPep277 through placements in the medical and scientific press; 2) Stimulate interest in Peptor among pharmaceutical executives through placements in top-tier international business, trade, and consumer publications, and 3) Build demand among patients for clinical trials in the U.S. and other key markets through widespread coverage in consumer media. 
Booth’s strategic approach focused on The Lancet study’s dramatic results, the severity of type 1 diabetes, the lack of a current treatment, and DiaPep277’s promise of being the first type 1 drug available.  To allow adequate story development time, we embargoed the release and provided it to reporters four days in advance.  We determined that we would secure a wire service story to achieve widespread pickup internationally, while also targeting the most influential medical, scientific, trade, business, and consumer publications.  We coordinated the effort with The Lancet’s press office to encourage them to include the DiaPep study in their own advance news release, and we created a cadre of opinion leaders who could function as credible, third party endorsers of the promise of DiaPep.
This program was carried out over a five-day period (including Thanksgiving weekend) of one-on-one media contact and interviews.  Science writers at AP and Reuters were contacted first, followed by strategically important top-tier media in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.  Media that agreed to honor the embargo were given advance press materials, copies of the Lancet article and interviews.  Booth further created an “electronic press kit” and placed the news release on the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s EurekAlert embargoed science-news site.
1)  Nearly 2 billion media impressions worldwide.
U.S. Television and Radio:  CNN, plus nearly 300 stories including extensive coverage in Top 20 markets
Major Wire Services:  Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, Agence France- Presse, Deutsche Presse Agentur, Xinhua News Service
Business Week, Red Herring
Parade Magazine, reaching more than 37 million Americans
Top 20 U.S. Newspapers:  USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Newsday, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times
VOICE OF AMERICA, broadcast to 91 million people worldwide 
Top medical/scientific/pharmaceutical publications:  SCRIP, Science News, Diabetes Interview, New Scientist, BioWorld, Biocentury
National media in U.K.:  BBC, Times of London, The Independent
Extensive coverage in Germany, including top-tier German media:  Die Zeit, Die Welt, Der Stern
Top on-line medical news outlets, providing content to hundreds of sites:,,,
The vast majority of stories mentioned Peptor and DiaPep277.  The campaign further branded Peptor as a leader in developing new medical technologies.  DiaPep-favorable opinion leaders who we had pre-contacted were quoted in key stories and provided credible third-party endorsement.
2)   Four global pharmaceutical companies contacted Peptor with an interest in licensing DiaPep277.
In its early approach to “big” pharma as licensing partners, Peptor had had the door slammed in their face on several occasions.  After the publicity blitz, four important and well-known global partners contacted them, some of whom had declined to meet with them in the past.  These negotiations continue.
3) Within the first month after the publicity, Peptor tracked calls from more than 200 patients, mainly from the U.S.; 54 calls from physicians seeking more information on DiaPep and/or enrolling patients in additional clinical trials and an untracked number of contacts from investors.
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