Fast Five: Communicating in the Era of COVID-19 – Spotlight on Moderna

Fast Five: Communicating in the Era of COVID-19 – Spotlight on Moderna
August 21, 2020 Dan Dent

Kate O’Malley, Senior Director of Internal Communications, Moderna, will join our panel when PRSA Boston and Alkermes co-sponsor a webinar on “Communicating in the Era of COVID-19: Spotlight on Greater Boston’s Life Sciences Companies.” Our blog, Fast Five, serves as an event preview, introducing you to our panelists to provide a peek inside their worlds. Register for the event here and be sure to return to for more stories leading up to the event.








  • Eleanor Celeste, Director of Pipeline Communications, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Kate Cingolani, Communications Business Partner, Life Science Communications, MilliporeSigma
  • Kate O’Malley, Senior Director of Internal Communications, Moderna
  • Eva Stroynowski Otte, Vice President of Public Affairs, Alkermes

Amy Atwood, Head of Vaccine Communications, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Q1: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, finding the right time to launch a product or hold an event, even if it’s virtual, has been challenging. How has the pandemic impacted your 2020 launch or big event plans?

We’ve gone virtual at Moderna! From investor events to internal town halls, we are using videoconferencing applications and other collaboration technologies to bring people together, share news and create dialogue.

Q2: Some brands are pivoting from earned media to increasing the use of social media to tell their stories. If you have done so, can you give us a quick example of a smart pivot?

At Moderna, we continue to use an integrated mix of earned and social media to tell our stories. This year, we are reaching and engaging our people more and more on social media. As an example, for National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month, we asked our colleagues to help amplify the voices of the CMV community by sharing the video series we created with their networks and raising awareness of this silent disease.

Q3: During the COVID crisis, consumers want to hear from doctors and health experts, not CEOs. How has that changed your spokesperson strategy?

We are fortunate to have many brilliant doctors and scientists on our team at Moderna, including our President and our Chief Medical Officer. They work hand-in-hand with our CEO and the rest of our Executive Committee to serve as spokespeople to external stakeholders.

Q4: More than ever, brands are being judged by how well they care for their employees, particularly during this unprecedented time. How has your company shown more sensitivity to your employees

Early on in the pandemic, we formed a Coronavirus Response Team to help keep our colleagues informed of our response to COVID-related issues. One of the primary issues the team took on, in partnership with Human Resources, was childcare. With many of our colleagues still working on-site, it was critical for team members to have access to safe and trusted childcare providers. We quickly mobilized and set up pop-up care locations near our campuses to provide back-up childcare for Moderna employees and contractors—and offer some peace of mind during this unprecedented time when daycare centers were closed.

Q5: Employees hear messages of “take care of yourself” and they expect company leadership to do the same. What’s been your strategy, if any, to guide management to model the right behavior?

This year, we are making wellness even more of a priority given the stressors and sense of responsibility that we have felt operating in the the post-COVID world. Our leaders have committed to taking specific actions like avoiding Friday afternoon or weekend meetings, openly sharing their plans to be away from work and encouraging their teams to take vacation time. Some have even been early adopters of a mindfulness and meditation app, which we have made free to all Moderna employees!

About Fast Five

This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go and with a story to tell. But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *