5in5: Pharmaceutical Launch Meetings and Experiences

Jack Health Blog

May 21st, 2024 By

5 Questions in 5 Minutes 

2024 has been jam-packed with drug launches. On this episode of 5in5, we dive into how healthcare brands can level up their launch meetings. Melinda Lindland, EVP, Head of Growth, Joe Panepinto, SVP, Executive Strategy Director, and Sam Fortino, SVP, Director of Production and Tech Operations, weigh in on the critical elements, emerging trends, digital tools, and the importance of an overarching campaign. 

Video Transcript

Nigel Downer: What are the critical success elements of a pharmaceutical launch meeting, and how can experiential elements enhance engagement and drive real impact for stakeholders? 

Melinda Lindland: In general, we know that people learn in an experiential way and we have to consider all of that in the design of a program. Some people are auditory, some people are visual, etc. So, we want to consider all five senses when we’re designing and pull those elements in. We want to move things quickly. People like sort of snackable content. 

Things have progressed now, and we go for smaller, more rapid presentations from the stage that may be didactic, but then we switch those up with some experiential moments to keep engagement. And especially today, we have to consider the design elements around accessibility, diversity, and sustainability because our audience is far more sophisticated than they ever were. So they’re going to be looking for us to practice what we preach in the environment of a pharma launch meeting, which is about the wellness of the patient, to consider the wellness of the audience as well. 

Nigel Downer: What are some of the emerging trends and developments in employee engagement that companies need to consider when planning a launch meeting? 

Joe Panepinto: That’s a great question. I think employee engagement. We see today that there’s a crisis in engagement for employees across the board. One of the bright spots for pharma, though, is it’s an industry with people committed to a mission and a purpose, always focusing on the patient. So, launch meetings engaging employees in a launch meeting is an important moment in time, and while in the past, we were able to convey information through virtual or even hybrid meetings, today, it’s incredibly important to be face-to-face. 

It’s incredibly important to take advantage of that moment, to drive the bonding among the team, to drive the sharing across the team, and so that they can hit the market as quickly as possible because we do know that success in the first three or four months of a drug launch is very lasting for that organization. 

Nigel Downer: All right, Sam, this next one goes to you. You’ve produced dozens of these types of meetings. Give us a sense: what’s in and what’s out? 

Sam Fortino: Oh, I feel like we could create a bloopers reel of what’s out these days, some of the crazy things that we did over the years… The high-end talent, the choreographed dancing on stage, rooms dedicated to shredding paper, which now would seem completely inappropriate and unheard of, I think, are just a few of the things that you don’t really see anymore. 

As Joe and Melinda said, we’re starting to look at the technology and what our audience is really doing now, integrating and engaging them in different ways and really seeing how we can push the envelope. You know, the live experience is very important to them and really makes a huge difference to the launch and to the extension of the sales team. 

But really trying to integrate them, use the tools that they have at their fingertips and really engage them in new and different ways. 

Nigel Downer: What is the role of technology in a launch meeting these days? Everyone’s also talking about AI; what role could that play? 

Joe Panepinto: It depends. You have to appropriately apply technology where it’s going to be most helpful. Technology, for its own sake, is going to actually detract from the authenticity of the meeting and the effectiveness of it. There’s two sides to applying the technology as well. The one side is on the learning side, where you take advantage of AR and VR, as well as AI, which gives you access to lots of information as a reference. 

But you still need to learn how to deliver that information effectively, so that’s on the learning side. And then on the sharing side, the interacting with HCPs—how you interact with an HCP is really driven by their pace and what is most appropriate for them. So you can’t begin to bring into your process a technology that is not welcome and identified by the audience as valuable to them. 

So, the technology really has to be fit for purpose on the learning side as well as on the information delivery side. 

Nigel Downer: Launch meetings are often viewed as a big culmination or a big moment. Are they really a single moment in time, or are they part of a broader campaign? Melinda, let’s start with you. 

Melinda Lindland: Absolutely part of a broader campaign. I think that they were at one point in time a singular moment. It was like this big seminal tentpole moment. And then that was it was designed to push forth the sales force to sell. But now the best practice is absolutely to get the team bought in, almost pre-trained in advance, and get them really excited and motivated in that live moment. 

But then that’s the beginning, not the endpoint. And we start to kind of pulse out evergreen content from that point forward so that we remain ever-present with our messaging. 

Nigel Downer: Sam? 

Sam Fortino: It definitely has transitioned over the years to much more of a campaign feel where you’ll see the theme that we come up with and the graphics that we come up with for that launch meeting pulled through for several months. You know, we’re working with our clients now on the pre-engagement and the post-engagement just as much as we are on the launch meeting and what the components of the launch are going to be. 

It’s absolutely very important to make that a more of a campaign than a moment in time these days. 

Nigel Downer: Joe, is the campaign or moment in time? 

Joe Panepinto: Oh, absolutely campaign, especially when you look at it from an employee engagement perspective. The way I like to think about it is that – these launch meetings are the punctuation of an ongoing conversation that you should be having with your field force. 

Get In Touch