Ever since the pandemic, there has been a new emphasis on the emerging industry of telehealth, many of which are on the pre-IPO track. And while telehealth VC investment is expected to stay flat in 2023, the industry received an exciting $29.1 billion in funding in 2021, mostly for consumer tech services and apps, but B2B is also on solid footing. Regardless of funding levels, how has healthtech PR helped hypergrowth brands thrive through the disruptive business environment?
Hims/Hers HealthTech and Consumer Goods Maximizes Growth with PR
- $233 million raised
- First day of trading: Jan. 21, 2021
- SPAC proceeds: $280 million
- SPAC valuation: $1.6 billion, according to Forbes
Hims/Hers operates two websites offering medical services specific to men (Hims) and women (Hers). To catch the attention of VCs and to eventually go public in 2021, healthtech PR helped hypergrowth tech brandHims/Hers maximize their most opportune moments. With a total funding amount of $233 million and a successful SPAC IPO, Hims/Hers PR was strategic and purpose-driven, which helped it create consumer trust and make them a media darling at the right time.
Authentic Purpose-Driven PR
In 2021, Hims/Hers followed AirBnB in offering services to displaced Afghan refugees in the wake of the U.S. military’s sudden departure from Afghanistan. Not only did this create trust for their customers, many of whom expect brands to be socially impactful, but they also leveraged tech-based media such as TechCrunch to report the news and capture investors’ imaginations. It may have caught the attention of Walgreens, who missed the chance to contribute when their competitor, Walmart beat them to the punch because three months later, Walgreens started carrying the Hims & Hers personal care products in-store and online.
Targeting Early Adopters with Content
Although it went dark in 2021, Hims/Hers used Medium to own their story, create interest in the early-adopter crowd, and help them navigate the choppy consumer waters during the pandemic. Hims/Hers used Medium to make announcements, and they also hosted Q&As with medical professionals over topics that showed their consumers they understood them and their most personal medical problems.
Healthtech Kiira Health Leverages Healthcare PR at Opportune Moments
- $4 million raised
- Named one of the most promising startups in 2021 by VCs in Business Insider
Kiira is a healthtech startup that provides an online health clinic to college-aged women with an inclusive and culture-centered approach. The platform provided 24/7 365 access to trusted health experts, including primary care providers, ObGyn, nurse practitioners, and mental health experts. When the pandemic hit, many college-aged women found themselves without access to healthcare. This an especially acute issue because without “adequate resources and guidance, students are at risk for high rates of STDs on campus, unintended pregnancies, adolescent maternal deaths, and other adverse events.” according to CEO and cofounder Crystal Evuleocha, so she teamed up Dr. Candice Fraser, MD FACOG to solve the issue for millions of young women.
Using the Media to Reach Your Target Community
Both co-founders are open about their own experiences with a lack of access to care or questions about how to access care and the dangerous consequences. By leveraging personal stories that speak directly to the organization’s community, the co-founders have shown their audiences that they truly understand them, as they did in Forbes and Essence in 2021.
Moreover, when the founders speak to their community, they stay on message. They share the same information that inspired them to start Kiira Health and they underscore the most pressing issues for young women.
Using Press Releases For Corporate History
Should you issue a press release, or shouldn’t you? One time it’s crystal clear that you should, when there is a big corporate moment that will build your brand credibility with press and/or consumers, as Kiira Health did when it announced its first flagship location in Los Angeles. While press releases aren’t usually the source of media coverage by themselves, it likely didn’t hurt when Crunchbase included them in a story about health and wellness startups. This kind of press release acts a flagpole in the sand for future credibility building for both VC and media.
Folx Health Using PR to Elevate Understanding
- $59 million raised
- #28 on Fast Company’s list of World’s Most Innovative Companies 2023
Taking Control of their Founding Story
Folx Health is a telehealth platform that provides healthcare services tailored to the LGBTQIA+ community, starting at $59/month. In May 2020, Folx founder A.G. Breitenstein took to Medium to tell how Folx came to be. Although this Medium post is their only Medium post, it shows a particular media savvy. In December that year Folx’s $4.4 million funding led to coverage on Mashable, Built in Boston, and Crunchbase. The Medium post is so important because it is an early flag in the sand about the founding story of Folx, which is important when a big media announcement hits and suddenly there is a lot of press and a lot of opportunities for the founding story to be misunderstood or misrepresented.
PR to Take a Stand
On the heels of its $30 million raise in October 2022, Folx appears to take control of its narrative again. This time, it does so as a fierce source of information about healthcare’s inadequacy for the queer community. Time after time, Folx uses an intelligent combination of data and storytelling to articulate Folx’s purpose and need to a broader audience. And this time, Folx CEO is the spokesperson for thier entire community: The American healthcare system, “at best, wasn’t built for us. And actually, more often than not, it’s openly discriminatory,” says Liana Douillet-Guzmán, of the LGBTQ community.
All of these hypergrowth healthtech brands provide examples of PR in healthcare brands, but these examples can also be useful for all startups in any phase of growth. Taking ownership of PR in the earliest stages can pay remarkable dividends in the early development and later hypergrowth stages. During times of volatility, PR can be the shining beacon into the future and light the path for future growth, even with past coverage.