Innovative and Safe: Ensuring Biotech Companies Thrive in Digital Communications During COVID Pandemic

Moving digital. Join us virtually! Conference canceled.

It’s no secret that everyone is moving to virtual and digital methods of interacting with one another during the COVID pandemic to do our part and help flatten the curve. While so many industries are carving a new path forward, the current situation presents a unique challenge for healthcare and biotech companies due to FDA, SEC and other government regulations and restrictions when discussing information online. What can we say? What should we disclose? Who needs to be involved?

These are all questions we’ve been helping our clients navigate as we learn to present data while adhering to various conference regulations and embargoes, announce company news while navigating the SEC’s Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD), discuss thought leadership pieces and chime in on industry insights in innovative, but more importantly, safe, ways.

Here are a few opportunities:

  • Google Hangout event for patients and patient advocacy groups to discuss clinical trial changes: While people are figuring out how to live this ‘new normal’, it is even more imperative for patients, patient advocacy groups and caregivers to understand how vital clinical trials will be conducted moving forward. Using the digital tool Google Hangout, a company can host a live video chat with investigators to discuss any changes made to clinical trials to ensure patients are safe as these trials progress. Through Google Hangout, patients can ask questions anonymously, which ensures patient privacy is preserved. The event can also be password-protected to ensure that only appropriate parties join the conversation. A Google Hangout allows multiple people to share videos, so investigators and company spokespersons can easily present on specific topics.
    • One regulation to consider: Ensure that by interacting with these groups virtually, a company is doing so to “eliminate an apparent immediate hazard or to protect the life and well-being of subjects.” (Page 13 here)
  • Facebook Live event to present data or information that would have been presented at a conference: Trying to stand out among the sea of virtual data presentations during a conference can be difficult, but utilizing Facebook Live vs. a standard webinar might be a way to reach new audiences. Facebook Live allows users to ask questions in real-time and also generates more traffic to a company’s social media channels, which may increase follower count. The more followers, the greater the audience for companies as they continue to share updates and messages further down the road.
    • One regulation to consider: If a company is making any announcement that could be considered material nonpublic information, the company needs to consider Reg FD and ensure social media channels are listed as a source of disclosure to the public on websites, press releases, etc.

Once an online event is scheduled, the real work begins and it’s time to figure out how to get people to join. How is a biotech company supposed to stand out in the increasingly busy online climate? Here are a couple of options to consider:

  • Optimized landing page: Create a landing page on the company website that includes all relevant event details (speakers, time, date and registration details). The page should be optimized for SEO and the event should be announced on the homepage of the company’s website. Links should be provided to this landing page from all distribution channels, including the company’s social media channels, employees’ email signatures, etc.
  • Paid social media: Buying ads on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn is a cost-efficient way to reach a highly targeted group of people with messaging and encourage those audiences to RSVP for a virtual event. Targeting options are available based on follower lookalikes, keywords, demographics and hashtag usage.
  • Email: If company has collected an email list of stakeholders, we recommend creating a detailed invitation to send as an email blast to these individuals. Sending the invitation and a day-of reminder are also important to ensure that people who RSVP ‘yes’ actually join.

In summary, it’s vital that biotech and healthcare companies do not miss the opportunity to announce potentially groundbreaking and industry-changing news, even in these currently challenging times we are navigating together. If you have questions about how to organize these events, please email