BrewLife Video: Susan Parker

Get our take on what BrewLife brings to the table and why we’re all so passionate about working here.


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Joey_verticalJoey is a Senior Account Manager and cross-functional player on our corporate/investor relations and product communications teams. But she’s more than that… Joey is also our Person-in-Portland (Oregon). She started working for W2O Group in San Francisco more than five years ago and moved up north for a change of scenery in 2010.

Luckily for us, she squeezes in regular visits to SF, in-between leading social media consumer campaigns and her other high-profile communications responsibilities—announcing pivotal trial results, new product approvals, quarterly financial results and strategic partnerships.


What is your role at BrewLife?

I cover investor relations, strategic writing, collateral development, media event planning, and much, much more. But my specialty is bridging corporate and product communications for healthcare and biotechnology companies. I enjoy spreading the word about clients’ value to investors, advocates, media and physicians. I have firsthand experience across the spectrum of clinical trial situations from binary data readouts (both the good and the bad) to FDA approval and even recall, and I have the battle wounds, and learnings, to prove it.


What keeps you returning to the office every day?

I was drawn to healthcare because of the human element. I find it rewarding to interview patients, hear about the awesome ways clients are helping them and tell their stories. Social media is providing exciting opportunities to reach patients where they live and offer valuable information. At the end of the day, it is all about the patients.   


What is your mantra?

“The devil is in the details.” It’s a given that big picture thinking is important but often forgotten that someone needs to plan for every detail to implement successfully. At the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference each year, I’m the central hub for all of our clients and employees—managing the details of everything from organizing a cocktail reception to making sure everyone has what they need.


What experiences contribute to your success?

I double-majored in Finance and Public Relations at Syracuse so a business perspective comes naturally to me. I’ve leaned on this background to help immerse myself in the numbers behind my client’s business.


What would you be doing if not this?

Living in beautiful Australia with my dog Cooper. And maybe going to culinary school. 


What’s fueling you today?

A juicy peach I picked up at a California farm stand.


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When Randy Scott, CEO of InVitae and former CEO/Founder of Genomic Health, asked us to provide communications and strategic support for his bold vision of aggregating all of the world’s genetic tests into a single assay with better quality, faster turnaround and a lower price than most single-gene assays today, I thought: InVitae epitomizes the type of client BrewLife stands for! They represent a revolutionary technology platform and an emerging company with a big story that will change the future of medicine in a complex marketplace.   

SF_officeSince we officially opened the BrewLife doors during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January, we’ve been attracting new clients like InVitae non-stop, sharing our secret sauce and experience with them. We are now working with emerging companies and brands such as Esperion, SOTIO, Singulex, Teleflex, Loxo Oncology, PetGenius, AliveCor, iRhythm, Coravin and Sequenta, to mention a few—all drawn to our combination of Ph.D.’s, MBAs, former in-house communications executives, and cutting edge creative and digital experts.

At BrewLife we are passionate about our clients, teasing out their story, what makes them special and, more importantly, why it matters. Through our immersive process, we have developed stories for clients going through successful IPOs, preparing for commercial launches, creating a new brand and identity, as well as guiding CEOs through binary milestones. Having spent most of my life in-house at very visible companies, I know what value proposition clients are looking for. Our promise to current and future clients is to apply the right people with the right skill set to help reach their business objectives. 

Since we launched our new company within the W2O Group family, we’ve been enjoying a fun and collaborative office space, mirroring the entrepreneurial spirit of our clients. We are in high growth mode and expect to hire more of the best to serve our clients both strategically and creatively.

Come visit us soon. And stay tuned for more success stories from BrewLife!

Paul Laland

 Paul Laland, Managing Director

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Nicole_verticalNicole is a BrewLife Account Director who has led teams at W2O Group since 2007. (She just returned from her 5-year anniversary sabbatical that included jaunts to Spain and Hawaii—and yes, we’re all green with envy!)

Nicole arrived here along an interesting path, having first worked in-house at Nuvelo where, as Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, she hired Jim Weiss and ‘WeissComm’ as it was known back then to help the emerging company with IR and PR with Carolyn Wang at the helm of her agency team. Jim spotted a star and as his firm grew, he began wooing Nicole to join. Luckily for us, Nicole was indeed eventually won over to W2O Group and she has since become an integral part of BrewLife.


How do you fit into the BrewLife mix?

My core functions are overseeing Corporate Communications, Investor Relations and Public Relations accounts but I’m excited to be playing an increasingly active role in Brand Strategy and Marketing too. I am also helping to build the structure of our internal organization, develop process and generally map out BrewLife’s role in the larger W2O organization.


What inspires you in your role?

I am naturally drawn to biotech and healthcare—I started college as a biology major before switching to PR—and enjoy playing a part in improving patients’ lives. I find it very rewarding to hear, and share, stories about how lives are being changed.


What makes you so good at what you do?

I see myself as part of the client team, not a vendor. My experience in-house has given me valuable insight: I truly understand my clients’ perspective and can partner with the C-Suite. In my time both on the inside at Nuvelo and at various agencies including Russell Welch, GCI and all of the Weiss brands, I have experienced many of the situations an emerging company might, including the rollercoaster ride of taking a public company from being unknown and undervalued to the being a hot top commodity and all the way back down again. So, in addition to more executional tasks, I can give strategic guidance on everything from crisis management and data readouts to collaboration and partner management as well as mergers and acquisitions.


What would you be doing if not this?

I relish the work I do and honestly can’t imagine any other career. If I were to hang up my hat, I’m certain I could find plenty of ways to fill my time including spending more time with my two little ones, Will (4) and Brandon (18 mos).


What’s fueling you today?

Breakfast was a fried egg and buttered whole-wheat toast, made by my hubby.


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Granite Chief Peak 3.10.13

 Denise is our Group Director of Corporate Communications and resident Canuck. As senior counsel, strategic thinker and tactical realist, Denise always seems to know what should be done and how to make it happen.

Contrary to rumor, Denise did not arrive at BrewLife by hiking through the snow from Canada. (Although we don’t doubt she could if she wanted to.) She has worked with members of our team for the past two years at WCG, a W2O Group sister-company. Prior to that, she served as Sr. Director of Corporate Communications at Threshold Pharmaceuticals, and as Director of Investor Relations at Amgen.


What is your role at BrewLife?
I guide corporate communication efforts for Life Science companies, always keeping a keen eye on results.

What do you find most compelling about your work?
I am fascinated by how our clients transform science into a business with tangible products—and by what this does for patients, changing their lives in very real ways. That’s why I enjoy helping Life Science companies distill their complex stories into something audiences can understand and get excited about.

What gives you a distinct edge?
My considerable experience on the client side in drug development, finance and at the operating committee level has given me firsthand knowledge of how different functions and constituents come together. I’ve advised the C-Suite, understand Wall Street and the drug development process and have some experience in commercial operations.

I truly understand what’s important to the many constituents in, and outside, biotech companies.

Is there something you always keep top of mind?
Reputation. It’s all anyone has at the end of the day. It’s a person’s brand. So I always consider how a communication will effect the management team’s and the company’s reputation, and try to craft compelling stories that take into account all audiences—investors, media, SEC, FDA, physicians, patients and their families.

What would you be doing if not this?
I’d probably work for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), combining my passion for helping people get the care they need with my love of travel and new experiences.

What’s fueling you today?
Chicken-apple sausage, poached egg and a cup of really, really good coffee (with half & half because a friend got me addicted to it).


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Paul Laland, Managing Director, and Tom Haan, Group Director, sum up what we bring to client partnerships.

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Even the greatest tales can fall flat if they are not in the hands of a good storyteller. It’s easy to recognize the passion of the storyteller but just as important, and often unnoticed, is the science of telling the story.

Whether it’s a logo or a press release, every experience and communication should be rooted in the essence of the brand. And there is a science to capturing that essence—distilling the aspirations, history, and passion of a company into a digestible story. It starts with identifying that one promise, the one kernel of truth that makes that company’s story different from everyone else’s.

When crafting a story, every audience, every voice is considered. Through workshops, discussions, market research, customer interviews, and many other tools, every piece of relevant information is gathered. But then it has to be curated and distilled: What really matters? Our job is to ensure the essence of the story emerges from the mounds of chaotic information. This is the foundation of each brand’s unique story. From there, every word, every color, every curve of a line is carefully chosen to lead the audience back to that essence.

chasingsomeblueskyIt’s just not good enough to guess who your audience is anymore. There is too much competition and too much noise out there for your story to be heard unless it is fine-tuned to your specific audience. With analysis of online conversation, we are able to ground a story in the reality of its audience. In this digital world people love to share their opinions, likes, and dislikes online. Capturing and distilling this freely given information allows us to glean insights about the people are really talking about, the language they use, and a peek into their personalities. Knowing that the fans of your brand also like Anthony Bourdain and Family Guy informs us that your audience is drawn to a more irreverent tone. Or do they talk about Pinot Grigio and travel? Knowing this would lead to a more sophisticated brand story. Online analytics are becoming an indispensable tool to crafting a story and ensuring that you are driving to the essence of your brand and what your customers truly care about.

Once you have a great story, there is also a science to sharing the story to make sure that it actually reaches your audience. Every story has chapters and not all audiences might want to start and end at the same place. Knowing your audience lets you bring them into your story exactly where they need to be. As people spend more and more time online, it is vital that you provide them the information that they are looking for, where they are looking for it. The data allows us to identify not only what people are talking about but where and when they are having those conversations. This data tells us the peak time to push out content, whether it’s for your Monday morning coffee drinkers, lunch time YouTube watchers, or Friday night music lovers. Each insight can refresh your story for a new audience or a new chapter.

From inception to reception, there is a science to crafting, telling, and sharing every story so that the brand’s promise is delivered to every audience.


Photos from chasingsomebluesky and Kenneth Hoover

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Tom Haan, Group Director, gets into the science of telling the story and the passion of storytelling.

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Paul Laland, Managing Director, and Tom Haan, Group Director, talk about what we do and for whom.

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