At a recent life sciences breakfast, I was in awe of the mix of people attending the event from various industry sectors: medicine, agriculture, academia, trade associations, investment, IT and marketing communication firms, among others. I was struck by the far-reaching impact Indiana life sciences companies have on the most pressing public health issues, such as opioid prescription addiction, the Zika virus, and new tech creations that feed the world’s growing population.

These and other advances are building Indiana’s innovative tech reputation. Just a few years ago, Indiana was rarely mentioned in the same context as innovations from California and Massachusetts – but with the current momentum, it’s time to build and drive the life sciences industry. How? By raising visibility of the companies and the life changing technologies created here.

Here are four strategies to do it:

Develop goals for your visibility campaign: Establish a short, focused list of goals – three to four at most – that work in tandem with your company’s business strategy. For example, do you want to increase sales by attracting more clients? Does the company want to obtain grant funding from the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture? Is an acquisition in your future? Your goals are the roadmap for your visibility efforts.

Identify key influencers: Create a target list of key people, clients, investors, trade associations, public officials, and community members to build relationships with, to exchange best practices, and most importantly, to influence.  

Collect company stories: Each company has stories to tell:  about its heritage, the passion of its leaders, and the drive of its researchers. Find the best ones; curate a handful of stories that crystalize the compelling impact of your business. Is it the CEO striving to develop a cure for a childhood disease? Has your development team created a nutrient-rich rice superfood to combat childhood blindness? Your company’s stories tell the public who you are and what you stand for. The best stories can persuade a potential customer or stakeholder to choose your brand over a competitor’s.

Be a thought leader: Share your company’s innovative work across the full spectrum of media. This is critical. Executives should share their expertise on industry panels, at national conferences, in community leadership forums and on-line webinars. Write op-eds and thought pieces for key trade publications. Incorporate a robust media relations program that targets key local, national and trade media as a forum for leaders to share their stories with traditional and social media journalists.

Indiana and its life sciences companies are poised for explosive growth the next several years. Could Indiana become the Silicon Valley of the Midwest? It can, and your company can be part of it. Now is the time to map your path to success.

Angela Howland Blackwell is Vice President of McDougall Communications. She and her family recently returned to Indiana after living in Upstate New York for 25 years to head up the firm’s Indiana office. Angela is a graduate of Carmel High School and DePauw University. She can be reached at: 

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