The global pharma market is expected to increase in the coming years, and analysts are expecting heavy M&A activity in the industry.

An unfortunate by-product of rapid growth is that critical functions designed to drive outcomes begin to work on autopilot and can become siloed, splintered.

In this scenario, no one “owns” the cross-functional integration, making it difficult to ensure a core strategy and unified messaging is carried across every aspect of the business.

As pharma companies join and grow, some allow silos to form, resulting in separate, disconnected functions (i.e., product marketing, medical affairs, regulatory, communication, public affairs, corporate communications, etc.). To be effective, each of these functions should work hand in hand in support of one consistent business strategy.

By eliminating this silo-function mindset, companies are in a better position to ensure that potential future earnings are not left on the table. Get each function in lockstep—in sync with each other—to ensure everyone is in concert and laddering up to the company’s broader objectives.

For example, the R&D pipeline impacts how medical affairs can use new data to inform the medical communities as they consider and prescribe new medicines. In turn, product marketers can leverage data and medical acceptance to drive sales.

Public affairs can use these wins to encourage key thought leaders, patient groups, and major third-party groups to help carry the water and more broadly share critical messages to target audiences.

And, of course, your communications team can link these efforts together to forge impactful external-facing communications programs that touch on many other critical audiences.

The Communication Function as a Connector

This is where an agency partner can be invaluable – by acting as a true partner— and as a connector in support of communications. Companies can use their partner agency to facilitate breaking down silos and encourage conversations and collaboration across disciplines to ensure each is operating from the same strategy(ies).

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Asking the Right Questions

Since the real purpose of convening these cross-functional employees is to facilitate meaningful discussion, it’s important to ask questions that are open-ended and big picture enough to guarantee that these interactions aren’t just glorified status reports. For example, open discussion up around questions such as:

  • What are each of the functions trying to achieve?
  • How do each of them impact the business?
  • What insights do each of these areas offer to inform strategy?
  • How are they connected, and can these connections be collectively leveraged?

Again, this is where an effective facilitator is critical.

Having a partner agency at the table provides the company with outside perspective and an objective voice that allows the client to see where dysfunction might be at play. This voice can recommend integrating business efforts to unify around an overarching business strategy.

“What might be the regulatory impact there?”  “How does this align with our new corporate branding initiative?”

“How can emerging data drive product uptake?” “Will clinicians act on the evidence-based data generated for licensure and are more scientific data needed?”

“Can advocates be rallied around the medical need and interventions offered by your products?” “What are the most effective communications channels for reaching these influential audiences?”

A well-rounded and integrated communications effort with a strategic agency partner can help optimize all of a given company’s internal efforts and talent.

And last, but not least, no integration is possible without a directive from company leadership for alignment on a cross-functional approach.

As Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Mr. Ford may have been a titan of the auto industry, but pharma companies today would do well to heed his advice.

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