MacDougall Advisors co-founder and managing partner Kari Watson talks about how new companies in the bioscience sector can execute a successful launch—and build momentum—on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview with Doug Simon.

Positioning, she says, is the place to start. That requires “not just understanding the company itself, its business goals and its technology, but also where that fits in context with peers and competitors.”

Watson adds that flexibility and sensitivity—as regards both clients and the media—are musts for communicators working their way through the launch process.

The press, she tells Simon, has “been spread a little thin, covering the pandemic and educating the public about the science of the coronavirus.” So communicators would be wise to “have a little bit of leeway in terms of when you time your debut.”

Time is also a major concern for clients. “Obviously these startups are all like, ‘we've got to get it going fast!’ and they don't necessarily want to spend money on a long prep time,” Watson says.

“Our positioning process does include looking at a 12 to 18 month calendar,” she adds. “So we're looking at not just the immediate milestones that might drive a company to want to launch tomorrow, but then what the news flow is going to look like on the back end.”

But when that amount of time is just not a possibility, “you just have to work with what you can get. It's not the same company to company for sure.”

Watson also discusses what she calls “avoiding the void”—the communications vacuum that can follow a launch. “We want to know ahead of time that we don't have a big debut and then hear nothing from a company for a year or two.”

For biotechs, she says, differentiation is also key. “There are going to be elements across your management team, across your clinical strategy, across the founders and the science. All of that can help to enrich a company's story and help them stand out.”

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