Chicago, known for its unpredictable weather, was once again trapped in a never-ending cycle of rain and fog. I had no choice but to venture out into the storm to go to C&EN Media’s Pharma Marketing Breakfast, a side event at CPhI 2019. My morning commute included a long train ride to downtown Chicago, a drizzly one-mile walk, and a confused Lyft driver. But I, and eventually the rest of the SciCom team, finally made it to the McCormick Place Lakeside Center in time.
The breakfast opened with a panel discussion by C&EN BrandLab’s Executive Editor, Raj Mukhopadhyay, alongside HDMZ’s very own Director of Scientific Communications, John Kang. Their talk focused on best practices in scientific storytelling and how it augments conversations with the media. Raj began by talking about Beyonce — wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly — Beyonce. And incidentally, I asked myself the question you’re probably already thinking: What does Beyonce have to do with scientific marketing?
Now, Beyonce may not be directly related to science marketing, but storytelling is. In fact, it’s an essential component of our social lives. From childhood to old age, stone age to modern times, storytelling is what keeps us connected, invested and informed. Through Beyonce, Raj explained how her marketing team documented the story of her performance at Coachella and then evolved that story into a documentary that premiered a few weeks before her album release to create buzz.
Raj argued that this technique can also be used in science marketing. While not every story can match that of Beyonce’s Coachella performance, each one has something interesting to tell us. And, as John pointed out, a fully fleshed out story — complete with hero, conflict, and climax — will help create a compelling pitch that will draw the attention of journalists.
During the presentation, John discussed other points of interest, including setting realistic expectations for your clients and developing relationships with journalists. He further stressed the importance of recognizing that journalists don’t work for us — but rather, it’s the other way around. And while PR professionals cannot dictate what the media should write, we can give them interesting angles that will resonate with their audiences.
Marketing in this industry can be challenging given the complexity of scientific content and the varying levels of audiences. Nevertheless, storytelling can be a vehicle to reach your audience in a non-invasive and informative manner.
Long story short… be like Beyonce.