Lynnea Olivarez, Life Science Communicator

Background

Savvy communicator with experience spanning industry, agency and government

About Me and What I Do

My Integrated Comms Philosophy

Approach

Corporate affairs considers business goals, all stakeholders and the operating environment


Expertise

My medley of corporate comms, public relations and patient advocacy skill sets

Toolbox of Skill Sets for Life Science Communications

Background


Lynnea Olivarez

My colleagues call me a convener.
As a versatile practitioner with a special interest in gene and cell therapy, I operate across all levels and functions to drive impactful communications.

I craft integrated PR, digital and social media, and employee engagement initiatives to support the full drug development lifecycle.


WHAT I DO RIGHT NOW
Based in the Bay Area, I launched in 2023 Ticket to Biotech (T2B), a first-of-its-kind biopharma communicator community. As founder, I created the concept, brand and infrastructure, and as community manager, I foster daily online discussion and idea exchange among our 200 members spanning myriad topics from timely news items to internal culture.

Ticket to Biotech

T2B's mission is to fill a couple of key voids I’ve seen in the field:Connections -- support for real-time evolution of the modern-day biopharma corporate affairs function: T2B provides a private space for us to talk shop and share on-the-job insights and resources. We aim to elevate the role of communicators, enabling us to contribute more significantly to decision-making processes within our companies or for clients.Conversations -- direct communication and transparency, with each other: T2B is a hub for us to share the latest industry knowledge, trends, and best practices in biopharma communication. We're creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all members, regardless of their level of experience in the field.


WHERE I'VE BEEN
Most recently, I headed communications at up-and-coming gene therapy company Encoded Therapeutics. There, I worked closely with leadership and business partners to develop thoughtful external communications and to inform and inspire the hybrid workforce.

Virtual lab tour I conceptualized and executed to showcase Encoded talent while also educating stakeholders on the company and tech

Before moving cross-country during the pandemic, I spent over a decade in the Boston biotech hub. I spearheaded external affairs, including the patient advocacy function, public affairs and internal communications at Intellia Therapeutics, the first company to reach the clinic with a systemically administered in vivo CRISPR gene editing treatment. I also guided strategic communications at boutique PR agencies Ten Bridge Communications and MacDougall Biomedical Communications for over two dozen biopharma organizations, campaigns, initiatives and therapeutics, including for the approval, launch and pricing announcement of the first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease.

Earlier in my career, I supported marketing communications efforts for the MA Life Sciences Center, the quasi-public state agency charged with implementing the state’s $1 billion life science initiative. Before that, I self-created my role to satisfy demand for global internal informatics and tech communications to reach Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research’s 4K+ employees across the globe.


OTHER PLACES I SPEND MY TIME

PRSA-SF tour of local NPR/PBS affiliate KQED

Being involved in the biotech and business communicator communities both inspires me and allows me to pave the way for the next generation of PR pros. I'm the 2024 president of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and I also have led our mentorship program. I'm additionally involved in the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT), where I serve on the Communications Committee.

I love sharing what I've learned and hearing about others' experiences in the field. You may often find me at conferences like the Fierce Pharma PR & Communications Summit, the PRSA Employee Communications Conference or the ASGCT Annual Meeting.

More recently, I also became a published author when my chapter on AI-powered graphic design platform Canva made an appearance in the e-book, #PRstack: AI tools for marketing, media, and public relations.

Approach


"...the Corporate Affairs (CA) officer is a new era advisor."


MODERN-DAY CORPORATE AFFAIRS
In 2020, what it takes to be an effective communicator began changing more rapidly due to the pandemic's onset. And, it hasn't stopped since. Agility has been the name of the game for us amid:

  • World events spanning from political unrest to humanitarian crises

  • Generations entering and exiting the workplace

  • Challenges associated with hybrid working or return to office

  • The swift emergence of AI in our daily lives

  • The convergence of PR, digital and social media, and marketing

I believe that communicators must embrace openness and readiness to pivot and evolve. We don't just keep pace but often lead the charge.

Deloitte's CA Key Responsibilities

We are strategic advisors, corporate champions, brand ambassadors… and doers. In biopharma, our function often stretches beyond internal and external comms and into related disciplines like investor relations, public/government affairs and patient advocacy. It’s long overdue, but as of late, we’re starting to see more of a visible shift from simply “comms” to corporate affairs, in recognition of all the hats we wear, operating across and up and down our orgs.

THE FIVE FACES OF CORPORATE AFFAIRS
I see myself predominantly as an ambassador and talent builder. Which of these faces is right for your organization?

Deloitte's Five Faces of CA Directors

Graphics courtesy of Deloitte


EVOLUTION OF OUR PROFESSION
With the break-neck speed of AI adoption across society, we communicators are poised in a prime position to take advantage of these new tools to incorporate diverse perspectives and comprehensive research into our programs -- with unprecedented efficiency, to boot! From building websites (like T2B's site), to designing engaging programming, to editing social media content, AI tools have significantly enhanced both the depth and breadth of my capabilities.
IN THE PRESS
My 2024 prediction for how AI will impact comms was featured in this PR Daily article:

Comms offerings and pros’ experience will be reassessed through the lens of, 'Can’t AI do that?' Making the case for our value proposition will require stakeholder and business partner reeducation, business model rejiggering and skills development rethinking.

My thoughts on measurement were selected by PR Daily's editor among nearly 100 submissions to highlight in this crowd-sourced article:

While quantitative metrics are critical, qualitative analysis is underrated and also imperative to tell the whole story. A few philosophical examples:

  • Should a NYT A1 mention be weighted the same as a trade publication feature?

  • What about a CEO who comments that more employees are saying hi to her in the hallway and just 'seem happier'? Yes, we hope we could back that up (or in some cases, disprove it!) with an engagement survey, but I’d argue that there’s tremendous validation in your CEO’s belief that your comms or corp affairs function had something to do with that.

  • Or in my industry (biopharma), patient community relationships are incredibly important. If the leading organization in one’s target area publicly gushes about your company, that’s uber valuable but how do you put a numeric value on it?


RECENT PRESENTATIONS
Check out some of my recent talks at industry events, where I've shared how to put my integrated comms approach into practice.

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Expertise


CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS

  • Company branding and positioning

  • Internal comms infrastructure: all hands, intranet, digital signage

  • Employee engagement and feedback

  • Executive comms

  • Corporate decks

  • Board prep

  • Environmental branding

  • Corporate advocacy and social responsibility

  • Project management and company events planning

  • Strategic counsel

  • Change management

BRAND POSITIONING IN ACTION: At gene therapy company Encoded Therapeutics, I led a brand refresh and website relaunch to explain our science in an approachable way, demonstrate our commitment to patients, and position our org as a great place to work

PUBLIC RELATIONS

  • Media engagement strategy, outreach and analytics

  • Thought leadership platforms

  • Digital and social media

  • Publication planning and data presentations

  • Awards audits and submissions

  • Conference strategy and speaking engagements placement

  • Sponsorships strategy

  • Spokesperson prep

  • Press releases and earnings announcements

  • Key messages and Q&As

  • Creative swag

MEDIA RELATIONS IN ACTION: For Ticket to Biotech's (T2B) inaugural event, I hosted a press panel with top industry journalists for our community. Take a listen to a few of the valuable media pitching tips I elicited as the moderator.

PATIENT ADVOCACY

  • Patient advocacy organization (PAO) engagement

  • Therapeutic PAO area landscape audits

  • Focus groups

  • Trial recruitment materials

  • Unbranded disease awareness campaigns

  • Patient inquiry response templates

Comment from ATTR patient advocate

PAO ENGAGEMENT IN ACTION: At Intellia, I was responsible for our patient advocacy strategy. For our lead program in transthyretin amyloidosis, we focused on targeted outreach to PAOs in countries that were central to our regulatory plan. Our main contact in New Zealand posted this comment to LinkedIn several years later.

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