A practical guide to publications planning

What is publications planning?

Publications planning is a core part of any pharmaceutical communications strategy. The publications plan is like a roadmap for getting the word out – it’s the strategy for turning your scientific data into a story. The aim is to make a lot of noise that generates attention and buzz in the lead up to a product launch – by which time you want maximal noise.

What does the publications planning process entail?

It usually starts with plotting out the timing of key data availability and thinking about the best combination of formats and channels to translate this into a story. Traditionally the key communications channels have been abstracts, posters and manuscripts. However, given the expanding range of options for medical publishing and communication, this has led to the broader adoption of an omnichannel approach. This might mean that in addition to the more traditional means of communicating medical data, the publications plan may also include newer complementing formats such as plain language summaries, infographics or audio summaries to cater to a wider group of stakeholders.

How does it support business goals?

The ultimate purpose of the publications plan is to serve as a mechanism to encourage the prescription or use of a drug. This is achieved by increasing product recognition amongst the right stakeholders and by serving as an educational source so that healthcare professionals (HCPs) can make a well-informed decision to prescribe the drug. Publications are still one of the leading sources of information that HCPs rely on to making clinical recommendations for a patient treatment and competition to get in front of them is fierce so making your scientific story compelling is crucial.

When should you start publication planning?

Typically, planning begins at the end of Phase II studies when companies have a better gauge on whether they have a viable product. This is also when companies start preparing the market launch of the drug and optimising the data release.

Who should be involved in publication planning?

The process is usually spearheaded by a publications lead and their core team, with support from others including, global therapeutic area leads, medical affairs leads, health econnomics and outcomes research (HEOR) and market access leads, medical writers, authors and publications steering committee.

How can communications agencies support in the process?

Agencies can help with activities to both feed into the plan as well as the execution. These could include conducting gap analyses, competitor intelligence research or KOL mapping.

For the publications themselves, agencies can help with strategic journal selection and congress targeting, as well as medical writing. Outside of the medical community, individuals are seeking better access to health information and as a result, the target audience for medical information is becoming more diverse.

How could a pharmaceutical company factor this into their publications plan?

There will be a point in the drug life cycle when an organisation will want patients to know about the drug and want to encourage them to seek more information from their doctor or other HCP, in this case we might suggest adding a plain language summary to the publications plan to begin to educate a lay audience on the drug’s story.

If you’re looking to kickstart your publications planning process, reach out to us to find out how we can help you with all of the above and more at Hello@spurwingcomms.com

We can help - get in touch

At Spurwing, we are experts in healthcare and passionate believers in patient-centricity. Get in touch with us to learn how we can assist you in engaging your patient audiences and building your reputation amongst the people that matter.

Reach out to us at team@spurwingcomms.com