When PR pros have a story that they know will be front-page news, it's essential "to do it right and you have to be as transparent as possible with what your story will be," says Moderna chief brand officer Kate Cronin.
One key piece of strategy is knowing which media you should go to with an embargo. "An embargo can certainly help with a front-page story because it gives you the opportunity to get more information in front of a reporter before the story actually breaks," she says.
In addition to demonstrating trust in a media outlet, Cronin says that embargoes are "an opportunity to demonstrate a two-way street in terms of backgrounding them, spending time with them."
She also tells Simon that "it's important to not react to every piece that comes at you that might be inaccurate or might have a headline that's slightly off. Reacting to everything can be a challenge for you and can distract from staying the course."
With Moderna's key role in controlling the COVID pandemic, Cronin has a lot of experience in handling the fast-moving changes a story can go through. "We were always transparent with the reporters that we worked with," she says, "and ensuring that they understood what was changing from our end."
She discusses how communicators can get complex information across to audiences. "We look at communicating the science in a way that people can understand sometimes through analogies," which she says can help people "better understand how the science works and takes away some of the fear factor I think that people might have around new science and new modalities."
The challenges of working with researchers and scientists as company spokespeople are also addressed. "I think it's understanding where your spokespeople will play the best and working with them to give them the opportunity to tell a story that makes sense."
To combat false narratives, Cronin says that Moderna tries to "frame up what we're doing, what our story is, what we're working on and telling it in an authentic way." And when false narratives do appear, she says "we actually offer an interview with the reporter, with one of our executives or our researchers."
Finally, she talks about the growing importance of internal communications. "The employees are the ambassadors for the brand. They're the evangelists for the brand. And it's incredibly important that they understand what we're doing and that we really communicate with them first."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]