Stakeholder Deep Dive: Professional Societies/Advocacy Groups
In this segment we focus on another set of stakeholders who are in the “usual suspects” category, but are really more complicated than meets the eye. Professional societies and patient advocacy groups have long been considered critical partners at all stages of a therapy’s lifecycle, including the early product planning phase. Their value is underscored by their role as the face of the key constituents that companies rely on to help informs product development and direction and to get the word out to others in their networks.
Professional societies and patient advocacy groups also value these relationships which range from joining forces with companies to further objectives such as education, support, or advocacy to viewing industry as just a trough of money used to support their own individual efforts. That said, while many groups may rightly be considered stakeholders and thus essential to engage, it is OK to put them into buckets based on how much they will allow industry to be actively involved.
We appreciate the challenges that organizations face related to industry partnering. Rightfully so, it is in their best interest to remain unbiased and focused on the interests of their constituencies. Thus historically, these groups have had a somewhat on-again/off-again relationship with industry. Over the past decade that in order to remain financially stable, societies and advocacy groups need some level of industry funding. A ProPublica survey noted that more than two-thirds of responding patient advocacy organizations reported that they had received some level of industry funding in their last fiscal year with 12 percent received more than half of their money from industry.
Our own conversations with representatives from dozens of organizations has revealed that membership dues and fees for educational programs do not cut it anymore. Also, certain organizations that were primarily membership based are branching out, with a desire to reach communities that go well beyond their paying members. To ensure to optimize industry collaborations, professional and advocacy organizations have brought on specialized industry relations professionals. Most come directly from industry.
Resources are not infinite how does one increase the likelihood that a professional/advocacy group engagement strategy will be a win-win for all? Zero in on four major components:
- Alignment with the company on key objectives related to the disease state
- Their level of willingness to collaborate with industry as partners on meaningful programs and outreach, and
- Are their resources to collaborate with industry.
- If the relationship provides for interfacing with the executive team.
There is a variety of indicators which can be incorporated into a detailed analysis which utilizes complex analytics and innovative profiling. This process will help to identify the society/advocacy group partners upfront that present the best opportunities from the perspective of setting direction and ongoing collaboration as well as the level of investment required.
Snowfish has pioneered this unique approach of building custom stakeholder landscapes including KOL identification and mapping, designed to meet the needs of the particular product.