The exchange program at Biosector 2 is a week-long, cross-cultural experience offered to U.S. employees to exchange ideas, share knowledge and explore the city with colleagues in our London office.
With advocacy groups becoming increasingly meaningful partners for pharmaceutical companies, it’s important to understand the power of this collaboration not only on a U.S. scale, but also globally.
As part of the B2 Exchange Program, I traveled to our London office for one week to work closely with our colleagues from across the pond that have experience in partnering with advocacy groups from many different countries.
While in London, I had a schedule full of team meetings and one-on-one briefings focused on work in the global advocacy space. I learned that similar to the U.S., advocacy organizations can be an invaluable resource for pharmaceutical companies in global markets. Advocacy organizations have existing relationships with audiences that may be difficult to reach, such as local media, patients and healthcare professionals. Furthermore, they are viewed as a trusted source for information and represent a credible perspective; just like in the U.S., media is often more receptive to hearing what they have to say.
The value of these partnerships quickly became apparent, cueing the critical step of initiating a relationship with organizations in local markets. Here are a few basic guidelines that I collected:
- Conduct stakeholder mapping to understand advocacy-industry guidelines, group dynamics and cultural sensitivities in each market. This will help ensure that you are approaching organizations that could potentially benefit from this partnership and are also best-suited for your particular business need.
- Engage organizations early when looking to create a partnership. If supporting a program, ensure that they are actively involved throughout the entire process, from development to post-launch, so the program aligns with the needs of the local community, and they can feel a sense of ownership.
- Position the partnership as long-term rather than a one-off engagement in order to cultivate a meaningful relationship. It’s important to keep in mind that the partnership is a representation of this organization’s reputation.
Having the opportunity to spend time with our London colleagues not only provided me with a new, global perspective on the advocacy landscape, but also fostered an exchange of ideas and best practices. When I wasn’t in the office, I explored the many historic sites and delicious restaurants London has to offer and even picked up some British phrases—which was brilliant!
Many thanks to all who made the Exchange Program possible. It was truly an unforgettable learning experience. Cheers!