There are moments in our lives where we can’t help but step back and say, “wow.” This week’s guest on What2Know, Katie Couric, induced such a moment for me.

Over my 12 years of podcasting, I’ve had the luxury of interviewing amazing guests – CEOs, game-changing physicians, thought leaders, political savants, famous musicians and many more. But when I found out that Katie was willing to join the show, I was over the moon excited.

As many of you know, Katie is in a league of her own. This is a woman who shaped the way many of us think about politics and the world through her work as a national news correspondent. She is also smart, witty and compassionate, and not afraid of glass ceilings as evidenced by being named the first woman anchor of a nightly news broadcast when she joined CBS in 2006. In 2008, she was unafraid to truly evaluate and challenge vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s credentials after John McCain selected her as his running mate. I strongly recommend you listen to Katie recount the events surrounding the 2008 elections on the podcast (part 1 | part 2).

Katie also has done tremendous work in furthering cancer research and helping fight this horrible disease, which both her husband and sister died from. She co-founded Stand Up To Cancer, which has raised more than $600 million to date, and helped establish the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. Additionally, she is the spokesperson for Merck’s “With Love, Me” campaign, which showcases a series of heartfelt letters on written by caregivers and cancer survivors to their former selves touching upon what they wished they had known – or needed to hear – when they were first coping with a cancer diagnosis.

Currently, Katie is running her own company, Katie Couric Media, which includes her podcast, her Wake-Up Call newsletter (I highly recommend that you subscribe), and a number of documentaries done in partnership with purpose-driven companies that share her vision for a better world. If that wasn’t enough, Katie is also a New York Times best-selling author.

During this week’s episode with Katie, we cover an array of topics – from her company, to her passion for supporting cancer caregivers, and even discussing the evolution of news. Take a listen below.

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As data and insight pervade the healthcare marketer’s and communicator’s playbook, are we at-the-ready to put it to the test to truly influence critical decision making?

Today, business, specifically in the healthcare sector, is benefiting from a multitude of analytics models to provide logical explanations and clear direction for how to address situations. These models can clarify everything from opinion formation to patient behavior, consumer interest, regulatory movement, sales trajectory, issues acceleration, influence and relevance/reputation, among others. The analysis leads to insights, sometimes surprising ones, which can then translate into strategy, programming and execution.

This system of thinking provides marketing and communications professionals with a platform of stability from which to innovate and experiment by incorporating new thinking utilizing data-based analysis. It’s a means to view the market with clarity and confidence. But the question we must ask ourselves is this: Is all this data and insight actually directing strategy and improving decision-making?

At this stage, the answer is more anecdotal than actual. However, in discussing this very point recently with marketers and communicators at leading organizations at a major industry event, the feedback told me that we have a way to go to maximize all that data can inform – and it is primarily focused on how we interpret, work with and utilize the findings to realize significant advantage.

Following are some interesting perspectives from healthcare leaders as to the reasons that data and insight don’t seem to penetrate decision-making in a manner that sparks confidence and drives advantage:

  • Connectivity – Often, data and insight are not integrated or linked to multiple facets of the process. As such, decision-making can be myopic and does not achieve the level of organizational benefit sought. Particularly from a patient journey standpoint, multiple touch points must be considered.
  • Choice – Decision-making is actually a set of choices, including assessing the alternative set of actions, outcomes and probabilities of situations. Data and insight provide a formal set of points from which to construct a solution. Data and insight are not a substitute for such discipline although they are an integral part of the process.
  • Timing – Depending on when analytics are available, the ability to digest and apply meaning to decision-making is stunted, robbing marketers and communications of valuable time to process the findings. Time is a precious commodity in healthcare, especially as we move from prediction to prevention.
  • Interpretation – As data is shared throughout the enterprise, assumptions and beliefs come into play and can lead to different and possibly contradictory arguments. If harnessed and discussed, this can be very effective. However, if sufficient time is not put into the process, it can result in competing objectives.
  • Inclusion – One area that is overlooked is including an analytics and data expert in the process. This is important for two reasons: focused immersion in the information, and avoiding improper meaning.
  • Measurement – Measuring success must be done at the outset of a program not just following the implementation of the program. Measurement should consider what we are trying to achieve. Is it longer life? life enhancement? education? access? trial improvement?

Rethinking the above to design a way forward to make the most out of data and analytics will lay out a process for more effective decision-making based on solid judgement.

At W2O, our mission is clear – making the world a healthier place through marketing and communications. This means providing data, information and insight that accelerates vitally important decisions in a clear, confident manner to better the future for all involved – in particular, and most importantly, for patients.

It’s about seeing what’s not there. Recently, I attended a talk by a researcher at a major biotechnology company whose advice was simple: look for the outlier because, more often than not, you will find the most important data and discoveries by the finding that was completely unexpected, not by what you were actually looking for.

The better we can all adapt to this data-enriched and technology-orchestrated world, the more effective and successful we will be as healthcare innovators leading our respective organizations and the healthcare industry to bettering health for all mankind.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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Many of us have been touched by cancer, and that impact often sparks an idea about what could be better in cancer care – whether it’s the care journey, health disparities, or life after cancer. The Astellas Oncology C3 Prize is looking for ideas – big and simple – to change cancer care beyond medicine. If you have an idea to improve the lives of patients, caregivers or survivors, submit a quick application to The application is simple, and the potential impact is great.

Now in its fourth year, the C3 Prize is looking for emerging and established ideas in the following categories: Cancer Care Journey, Cancer Health Disparities, and Cancer Survivorship. It will award up to $200,000 in total grants and resources, including a chance to connect with other healthcare innovators at TEDMED 2020.

Have an impactful idea? Visit to apply by July 15!

Interested in learning more about the C3 Prize? Watch here or listen here.

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Cancer has afflicted all of us in some way, shape or another. Dr. James P. Allison, Nobel Prize Winner and Jill O-Donnell-Tormey, CEO of the Cancer Research Institute, dive deep into the past, present and future state of immuno-oncology – a form of cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight this horrible disease. Take a listen below.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

Every year, the world’s largest gathering of cancer specialists including oncology professionals, patient advocates, industry representatives, and major media outlets worldwide, come to Chicago for the annual ASCO Meeting.

This year, ahead of the meeting, we had our in-house experts share their perspective on some of the most prevalent discussions in oncology. From payment models to social media campaigns to clinical trial recruitment, we unpacked key insights and trends. Take a read below.

Alternative Payment Models, Shrinking Reimbursements and Continued Innovation

Across healthcare today, the struggle for providers and health systems remains focused on providing the highest quality of care at the most effective cost.

Community Oncology: Finding a Regimen that Works for our Patients

Dive into the importance of finding the regimen that works best for oncology patients.

Clinical Trial Recruitment in the Age of Personalized Medicine

Discover how to navigate clinical trial recruitment in the age of personalized medicine.

How-To Create a Successful Social Media Campaign for Oncology Patients

How can you successfully reach oncology patients on social media? A recent campaign promoting Celgene’s Magic Tree App offers up key tactics.

[Podcast]: Top 2019 ASCO Themes

From early stage biotech data to learning from every patient, we discuss the major themes from ASCO 2019.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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It’s no secret, relevance is the new reputation.

Gary Grates, W2O’s Principal, joins What2Know and dives into the importance of relevance. Also, he dissects the unique position it plays in healthcare and he discusses how W2O is partnering with clients to prioritize their organizational relevance. Take a listen below.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

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ASCO 2019 is here! From early stage biotech data to learning from every patient, Patrick Ryan, Group Director at W2O and Christiana Pascale, Associate Director of Media & Engagement at W2O, discuss the major themes for this year’s meeting.

Take a listen below.

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Breast cancer is an overwhelming diagnosis. For mothers with young kids, an additional stress is how to tell their children about this diagnosis. Identifying this as a way to support the community, W2O’s client, Celgene, created The Magic Tree App for children ages 5-8 who have a mother with breast cancer. The app was designed to help guide moms through these tough conversations, the app allows parents to talk with their young kids about the diagnosis through games, videos and other educational tools.

A recent social media campaign to promote the app provides key learnings on how to reach this audience.

To efficiently reach patients with Breast Cancer, specifically moms, W2O Group collaborated with Celgene to create and execute a multi-faceted social media campaign. This included influencer partnerships within the breast cancer community as well as organic and targeted paid social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Top Tactics Contributing to Success:

1. Learn from Affiliates and Partners

The Magic Tree app was originally developed by Celgene’s affiliate in Germany and noting it’s success, the U.S. team decided to translate and adapt it for patients in the United States. Kimberly Jewett, a two-time breast cancer survivor and mother of two, says The Magic Tree “explains the disease in a kid-friendly way so mothers don’t have to navigate the conversation alone”¹

2 .Seek Input from Advocacy Groups and Clinical Experts

Patient advocacy groups and clinical breast cancer experts provided input to help with the development and launch of The Magic Tree app.

*Key Learning: Parents, specifically mothers with Breast Cancer, often have difficulty discussing their diagnosis with their young children, The Magic Tree aims to help with this by providing resources as well as links to patient groups, ultimately serving as a conduit for broader discussions that are parent led, not replacing but rather helping support difficult conversations

Susan Rahn, an influencer with metastatic breast cancer, describes The Magic Tree as “a charming cross between a video game and a chapter book, which has a friendly and fun feeling, like many interactive learning games.”2   The app features a house, playground, library and hospital.

3. Use a Multi-Pronged Approach to Deliver Messaging & Calls-to-Action

We needed a way to reach audience in a very crowded and noisy space, ultimately aiming to raise their awareness of The Magic Tree app and then encourage download. The final approach was three-pronged:

    • App Install Campaigns – Paid App Install campaigns were created and run across social media, such as Facebook, to drive app downloads from our core targeted audience. The App Install campaigns were an efficient way for us to not only drive targeted awareness of the app, but to offer the app to the Breast Cancer community in an easily accessible manner.
    • Instagram Takeovers – Patients in the breast cancer community took over Celgene’s corporate Instagram channel during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, to share their personal story and the impact of having a breast cancer diagnosis on their children/family utilizing the hashtag #MagicTreeMoments.
    • Influencer Partnerships – Partnered with patient bloggers to publish blog and social media posts on their personal channels, producing multiple pieces of content.

4. Work with the RIGHT Influencers and Micro-Influencers

Using analytics, W2O identified the most influential patients within the Breast Cancer community, specifically those who were the most relevant, publishing content that consistently resonates with their audience and all with varying audience sizes.

We partnered with four patient bloggers to develop blogs and social media posts on their personal channels, each speaking about their personal experience of telling their young children of their diagnosis and how the Magic Tree App was (or could have been) beneficial for their family. All posts were cross-promoted by Celgene, ultimately sharing these influencer posts to an even greater audience.

The coverage of the app resulted in the generation of three additional blog posts (earned media) from a top breast cancer influencer, a breast cancer advocate and

All influencer partnerships included compensation for the influencer for their time, which was transparently shared on every blog and social post (i.e. “This blog post was sponsored by Celgene Corporations. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own” or “#sponsored” on social posts).

5. Test and Learn Across Social Channels

As the campaign progressed, we saw Instagram producing significant success and performing most efficiently versus other social channels, so we were able to nimbly shift budget and further amplify efforts on Instagram to increase engagement.

The learnings from Instagram in the early stages of the campaign also served as the impetus for the Instagram Takeovers (by the three breast cancer influencers) which took place in Phase 2 of the campaign.

The Magic Tree campaign’s multi-pronged approach across social media (paid and organic), influencer channels and earned pickup, resulted in an extremely successful campaign. This brought the unmet need to life for families within the breast cancer community and offered patients an important tool to meet these needs in an easy and accessible fashion.

Campaign Success Highlights:

  • The Magic Tree app resonated positively among all engaged bloggers who encouraged their readers to download the tool to use as a resource for their families
  • Allowing bloggers to incorporate their personal perspective as mothers who have experienced breast cancer (including using original photos) resulted in thoughtful, engaging content generating a positive reaction among their audiences – including using original photos
  • Leveraging the Facebook Branded Content tool and boosting posts resulted in a larger number of impressions
  • App Install campaign drove additional awareness and downloads that exceeded KPIs

This blog post was co-authored by W2O’s Group Director of Social Media, Jessica Vanner, and Eileen O’Brien, W2O’s Managing Director of Social Media.


  1. Celgene Newsroom. “How This Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor Told Her Family About Her Diagnosis.” 27 September 2018.
  2. “Making a Difficult Conversation Less Scary – There’s an App for That.” 28 March 2018.
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Advances in personalized medicine over the last decade have made substantial changes to oncologists’ treatment approaches across most oncology disease states with notable benefits for patients. However, with this progress comes a number of challenges, including more complexity in recruiting for clinical trials. This is because more personalized therapies often equate to more restrictive eligibility criteria, making it difficult to identify and successfully enroll qualified patients. With an estimated <5% of adult patients with cancer enrolling in clinical trials, it is unsurprising that ASCO has multiple sessions this year focused on how to improve enrollment (Biden Cancer Initiative Colloquium, Overcoming Barriers to Clinical Trial Enrollment).

At W2O, our solution is to partner with clients to harness the power of data science, accelerating clinical trial recruitment through a number of data-driven advanced targeting optimizations.


We leverage data from the digital landscape to determine which advertising publishers are most relevant and valuable to patients. We analyze what websites patients most often reference in their online conversations and search activity related to their disease, treatment, general health, and broader non-health topics, giving us insight into where to place clinical trial ads for optimum reach. We also optimize paid search ad copy and keyword strategy for clinical trial enrollment by incorporating the actual language of the patient, garnered from linguistic analysis of real patient dialogue online, as well as the terminology actual patients use when searching for information.


We also use AI to model patient language so eligible patients navigate to the right clinical trial faster. Employing established language modeling techniques, we estimate whether an individual account can be classified as a patient based on the way they write. We tap into our audience first platform, mDigitalLife, to validate language patterns of known patient usage on social media, forums, and blogs, ensuring the model’s accuracy in identifying eligible patients. Upon discovery and validation, we can then target identified potential patients directly using social advertising tailored to their online profile.


Another mechanism for identifying potential clinical trial participants is to personalize targeting based on brand, activity, and content affinities. We develop a normative audience of known patients to determine audience interests and behaviors based on publicly available data. These insights feed the algorithm we use to model other probable patients across social networks. From there, groups of people whose collections of interests match that of verified patient populations are targeted with messaging about clinical trials for which they are eligible.


The last optimized targeting approach we will highlight is discovering and activating online influencers to engage patients in search of a clinical trial. This begins by completing an influencer analysis to determine who can most effectively engage potential patients for a particular disease state/clinical trial based on a complex set of metrics. This analysis offers a detailed view into who drives decision-making and behavior shifts – and thus, who patients look to for advice (directly or indirectly) when considering their next treatment choice. The most authentic, engaging partnerships between influencers and companies are produced when both parties have mutual priorities and interests. Clinical trial opportunities in the oncology space are a frequent topic that influencers discuss and disseminate, making it an optimal engagement area for pharmaceutical companies looking to efficiently extend the reach of clinical trial enrollment messaging.

Using digital technology and innovative, data-driven techniques can increase speed in finding patients for the highly targeted and specialized trials common in today’s oncology landscape. The good news is that data is readily available to efficiently inform these decisions – we just have to listen to what patients are telling us through their online behaviors.

Stay tuned for more 2019 ASCO content! Check Ujwal Pyati’s perspective on community oncology.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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