6 survival tips for brand managers in MLR meetings

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Stay afloat during MLR meetings
Stay afloat during MLR meetings

Preparation is the key to surviving the medical/legal/regulatory (MLR) process.

While not bulletproof (yes…some meetings go badly no matter how much preparation is involved), these 6 tips should lead to a more positive outcome during the MLR review.

1. Make sure you are 100% comfortable with the promotional materials you will be submitting for MLR review. Schedule a walkthrough with your agency team if you have any questions about the statements made in your sales aid or other materials.

2. Be familiar with the references that support the claims presented in your promotional materials. Your reviewers will be getting acquainted with the references in preparation for your meeting; you want to be on equal footing when defending the claims you feel are going to be most effective in meeting brand goals.

3. If you will be offering references that the MLR committee hasn't seen before, make sure you can explain the general study design, patient type, size of study, length of study, and results. That way, you can be proactive in neutralizing any sticking points that could pop up during copy approval.

4. Include the agency's scientific director and/or copywriter in the MLR meeting, whether in person or via teleconference. They may not be asked to speak, but in a pinch, the people who have spent hundreds of hours preparing your promotional materials will be your best friend if your approach needs to be defended during this high-stakes meeting.

5. If insights learned from market research are being utilized to benefit logical sequencing of story flow information, get copies of those audio clips and documents so the review team has the benefit of the market research learnings de novo. It is hard for a review team doctor to argue with a practicing doctor who is treating product X patients, as long as the recommendation is logical.

6. Have your agency develop an objection handler for the bigger items reviewed (ie, campaign creative, commanding claim, detail aid, etc). The objection handler should consist of at least 10 of the most common objections to the information presented, including referenced backup for support.

It's not uncommon for brand managers to envision a copy approval meeting as a formality, nothing more than lighthearted conversation among allies.

But they may quickly find, after cueing up a job that has been lovingly created and thoroughly scrubbed by its creators (and maybe even after debriefing reviewers beforehand), that there are objections and not-so-innocent stares—or words—being directed at them from across the conference table.

If you want to avoid becoming a reviewer's lunch, make sure you are well prepared before your medical/legal/regulatory meeting. Everyone will be happier and your promotional materials will be approved with a minimum of indigestion!

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