When Cepheid developed the first rapid molecular point-of-care and ‘near-patient’ COVID-19 test, not only did it have to carefully manage huge demand from customers, but it was also thrust into the media spotlight like never before.
On a recent MM+M podcast, Jason Spark, Managing Director of Ashfield Health company CanaleComm, joined Cepheid’s Jared Tipton to discuss how taking a ‘crisis comms’ approach helped the company weather the storm.
Over the years, Cepheid has developed trusted molecular tests for everything from HIV and tuberculosis to flu, ebola and hospital-associated infections. It’s also the company that tests every piece of US mail for anthrax – something it’s done since the infamous attacks of 2001.
Even with this experience, the rapid development, authorisation and launch of Cepheid’s rapid COVID-19 testing system designed for hospitals was like nothing the company had gone through before.
The test was shipped less than 10 days after FDA authorisation in March 2020, with overwhelmed hospitals across the US desperate to get their hands on the product.
A wealth of resources, fast
Typically, a product launch would require months of careful marketing planning – time Cepheid simply didn’t have with its COVID-19 test. Having worked with Cepheid for many years and built a strong partnership, CanaleComm immediately provided its expertise to help the company manage the incredible interest in its work.
Key to this was the quick launch of a dedicated page on the Cepheid website with a wealth of resources created for different audiences: clinicians, the public and the media.
The website was stress tested so it could handle the increased traffic – a 100,000 views on launch day and a 400% traffic bump in the first three months – and CanaleComm rapidly helped produce a number of videos with Cepheid’s in-house team.
These proved particularly useful as, with over 2,000 press enquiries in the first few days of launch, there was no way Cepheid could handle the demand from the media. Around 200 regional television markets used clips from the videos in their broadcasts.
Increased Net Promoter Score
Not only did Cepheid have to field interest from the media, they also had to manage the expectations of hospitals across the country which were understandably desperate to get their hands on the tests.
Despite a ramp up in production, there was no way Cepheid could meet demand, so the CanaleComm approach was to be open and honest with customers, and take what Jason calls a ‘crisis comms’ approach: “Be first, be right, be credible”.
Although it was a difficult time for all concerned, Cepheid’s Net Promoter Score has actually increased, reflecting the excellent job the company and CanaleComm did, and continues to do, during a remarkable, unprecedented period.
Check out the MM+M podcast for more.