New venture capital-backed companies in the healthcare space face unique challenges, and on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview, LaVoieHealthScience president and CEO Donna LaVoie talks about those challenges with Doug Simon.

"The healthcare space, especially health and science innovation, is exploding,” LaVoie says. “It was exploding before the pandemic, and now with the pandemic, there is more and more acceptance of what these companies are doing.”

Because of that, she tells Simon, “there is an unprecedented need from the strategic communications standpoint,” which is leading a lot of these companies toward thinking out of the box when it comes to their communications.

“Companies that would normally be leaning into more traditional sources of strategic communications are evolving and expanding their mindset into more digital communications,” she says.

LaVoie also talks about the “two kinds of regulatory hurdles” that these companies face—the regulatory hurdles posed by the FDA, and the economic hurdles that come into play when companies “are evolving into some sort of a M&A transaction through a SPAC.”

As regards FDA compliance, “from a medical standpoint, what we really need to do is to focus either on unbranded communication, or communication that would be very focused and tied to what's already public.”

For companies who are beyond the early VC stage, she says, “ you're looking at more market shaping kind of programming, depending on whether they're in a competitive area or not.”

With the pace of communications continually accelerating, LaVoie stresses the necessity of “adapting to the new rules of the game.” Making effective use of digital and social is one of those rules. “In the healthcare sector, in particular in biotech, it's been one of the last industries to really grab on to this particular part of the communication channels.”

She also says that while she has seen “a lot less in paid social and digital,” the primary role of earned remains. “Earned is still always sort of front and center to these companies, and I think remains to be even whether it's a pandemic, or not being in a pandemic.”

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