Q&A with David Spark, Content Marketer and Producer, Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions

MEDIA 7 | November 7, 2019

David Spark, Content Marketer and Producer, Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions is a veteran tech journalist and founder of Spark Media Solutions. He’s been the creative director, producer, voice, and face of many content marketing campaigns for a number of Fortune 1000 B2B tech companies.

MEDIA 7: What part of your background, personality, experience, or skill set makes you a particularly effective content marketing professional?
DAVID SPARK:

• Veteran technology journalist (worked across all media)
• Former advertising exec
• Former standup comedian and comedy writer

M7: What inspires you to come up with new ideas for blog posts, campaigns, tech, and media podcasts?
DS:
Inspiration is dependent on the project, the output, and the medium. But in general, I’m inspired by finding a topic/question that the audience will eagerly want to answer. Two of our most popular examples:

CISO Series – This is a media channel we started in October 2018 that we tout as couples counseling for security practitioners and vendors. We have such a passionate audience that they’re submitting a steady flow of questions, commentary, and games for our two podcasts. The CISO Series has provided the forum for our audience to be inspired.

“Man on the street” videos – It’s our most popular video format. We’ve produced close to 200 of these and my goal with these videos is to come up with a question where the first reaction is to laugh and then an eagerness about responding. It could be a challenge question (e.g., “What would happen if you left your mobile phone at home for an entire day?”, or something completely inappropriate for the environment (e.g., asking “What’s Your Password?” at a security conference).


"This whole attitude of “let’s try it with one and see how it works out” is a failed strategy out of the gate."

M7: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the content marketing space since you first started in Chicago as a comedy writer for The Second City? 
DS:
 Not related to comedy, but the biggest change I’ve seen in content marketing was that the work moved in house. We started business in 2007 and most of my sales pitches were trying to explain the value of content marketing which at the time I referred to as brand journalism. By 2012 all of our current and past clients finally got it and stopped outsourcing the majority of their content marketing efforts. That forced us in 2013 to change our business model to specialize in certain industry sectors and be more product-focused. People now hire us because they want our style of production and access to our industry connections specifically in B2B tech and cybersecurity.

M7: As a Content Marketer & Managing Editor at Spark Media Solutions, how much content are you personally creating versus managing?
DS:
 I’m doing the majority of it, but I bring in audio editors, designers, video editors, and now I have a sponsored segment producer for the CISO Series. I’m constantly pitched, but no one ever actually pitches in our style. I reject all offers for guest posts. I’m extremely protective of my brand.


"The only way you create great content is you have to make a lot of bad content first."

M7: What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about content creation/management over the last few years?
DS: 
The only way you create great content is you have to make a lot of bad content first. Nobody is amazing out of the gate. This is especially true about video production. For those getting into video, I highly recommend producing home movies first. The reason is those first videos will be awful, but your audience (your family) will love the videos no matter how bad they are.

M7: Could you tell us more about your book, “Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows”?
DS:
A huge majority of the work we do is at trade shows where we see a lot of behavior that is far from optimal.
At big trade shows, companies are dropping six to seven figures to have a presence at the conference. The cost per hour to be on the floor is extraordinary. So much is spent on booth production, travel, and staffing, but it appears nothing is spent on training people on how to actually behave at a trade show. It pains me when I see booth staffers staring at their phones, turning their back to the floor, or getting in huddles and talking with fellow coworkers. All these behaviors scream, “We don’t want to talk with you, potential customer who is walking past us just three feet away.”
The book offers techniques on how to engage with random people as they walk by your booth and quickly qualify or disqualify them.
The engagement techniques from the book became very popular, so we built upon them and made them usable by anyone in a training program we created called “Business Networking Pickup Lines”.


"In the entire history of media, with the exception of feature movies, no media brand becomes successful with one magazine issue, one radio show, one article, or one of anything."

M7: How has Spark Media Solutions been experimenting with new approaches/content formats/platforms? Are there any campaigns/programs you can give as examples?
DS:
Our survival is based on coming up with different media products and one of our core philosophies is “single effort/many units of content.” So if we’re hired to produce one video we’ll pitch more assets such as let’s turn it into highlights clips, transcripts, memes, photos, and more.
Here’s a good case study we did on a product we created called “Crowd-tooned”.
And here’s one of our most popular articles that speaks to our most popular production model: “21 Tips for Producing Funny ‘Man on the Street’ Videos”.

M7: What are the biggest mistakes you see new content marketers making consistently?
DS:
 Thinking you can be successful with one of anything. This whole attitude of “let’s try it with one and see how it works out” is a failed strategy out of the gate. In the entire history of media, with the exception of feature movies, no media brand becomes successful with one magazine issue, one radio show, one article, or one of anything. Why does a company that has no media experience whatsoever think they’re actually going to pull off what’s never happened in the history of media ever?


ABOUT SPARK MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Spark Media Solutions is a B2B content marketing agency for the tech industry. Content marketers that have perfected the model of building influencer relations through content. When dedicated to building an editorial voice, our clients have become the leading corporate media brand for their industry. We've worked with companies such as HP, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Symantec, Indycar, LinkedIn, Citrix, IDG, Dice, and many more. Our most popular service is live event reporting and production.

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House Rx to Launch Specialty Drug Dispensing Inside Rheumatology Clinics By Partnering with Three Leading Practices

House Rx | August 04, 2022

House Rx, the platform for medically integrated dispensing of specialty medications, announced it has partnered with three new rheumatology clinics to integrate in-house specialty drug dispensing – also known as medically integrated dispensing (MID) – into the clinics' operations. The three practices are: Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates (AARA), Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas (AOCC), and Arthritis Associates of Tennessee and represent an additional 68 providers that will dispense specialty medications through the House Rx platform, bringing the total number of providers on House Rx's platform to 137. While MID has grown in oncology, House Rx's partnership with these practices is one of the first to bring the model to rheumatology care. "It's very exciting to partner with key thought leaders in rheumatology to bring medically integrated dispensing to this specialty. 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About House Rx House Rx is a healthcare technology and services company focused on making specialty medication more accessible and affordable. The company partners with specialty clinics across the country to help these community clinics offer medically integrated dispensing, bringing together clinical and pharmacy expertise to better serve patients, lower the cost of care, and create a better experience for patients and their caregivers. Learn more at www.houserx.com. About Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates With 19 physicians, 30 advanced practice providers, and 10 clinics around the state of Arizona, AARA is one of the largest rheumatology practices in the country bringing world-class expertise to patients managing autoimmune conditions. 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House Rx to Launch Specialty Drug Dispensing Inside Rheumatology Clinics By Partnering with Three Leading Practices

House Rx | August 04, 2022

House Rx, the platform for medically integrated dispensing of specialty medications, announced it has partnered with three new rheumatology clinics to integrate in-house specialty drug dispensing – also known as medically integrated dispensing (MID) – into the clinics' operations. The three practices are: Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates (AARA), Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas (AOCC), and Arthritis Associates of Tennessee and represent an additional 68 providers that will dispense specialty medications through the House Rx platform, bringing the total number of providers on House Rx's platform to 137. While MID has grown in oncology, House Rx's partnership with these practices is one of the first to bring the model to rheumatology care. "It's very exciting to partner with key thought leaders in rheumatology to bring medically integrated dispensing to this specialty. Each one of these practices is a leader in their region, and we look forward to partnering very closely with them to define a new standard for a better patient experience and improved outcomes for patients living with rheumatic diseases." Ogi Kavazovic, Co-Founder and CEO of House Rx By bringing specialty dispensing into the physician's office, the partnership with House Rx aims to dramatically improve the specialty medication experience for patients. The MID care model provides a seamless and efficient way for patients to receive prescribed therapies directly from their doctor – which research has demonstrated improves outcomes, including quality of life and increased survivability, when contrasted with the Pharmacy Benefit Manager-controlled specialty pharmacy approach. "This partnership will increase patient satisfaction by providing prescription medication in-house, and House Rx's technology and expertise will help us achieve this," said Prakash Viswanathan, CFO of AARA. "It is motivating to help trailblaze a new path in rheumatology and be one of the first practices to bring specialty medication dispensing under our roof, making it far easier and quicker for patients to get the medications they need." "We couldn't be more excited about this partnership, which will bring immediate benefits for our patients," said Scott Gilomen, CEO of AOCC. "Having managed an oncology practice earlier in my career, I've seen first-hand the advantages of the MID model and look forward to how House Rx's approach to MID will propel the rheumatology field forward – with our practice at the forefront." "The House Rx model will transform how rheumatology care is delivered, making it more coordinated and improving our patients' experience," said Beth Simpson, DO and managing physician partner at AATN. "We look forward to our patients not being on hold for hours on end waiting to speak with a specialty pharmacy. Instead, they'll speak immediately with House Rx's integrated team of pharmacy experts who understand their rheumatologic conditions." While the concept of dispensing specialty medications in rheumatology is not new — a handful of clinics attempted dispensing in the past but ultimately were unsuccessful due to a lack of technological and operational support — House Rx's model approaches in-office dispensing in a new way. By providing clinics with specialized technology and operational support from pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who work integrated with the clinic, practices can keep the service under their roof while reducing the heavy lifting of implementing and maintaining a successful MID program. In addition, clinics can repurpose staff resources normally spent on prior authorizations and financial assistance for patients to focus on direct patient care or other activities critical to the viability and financial independence of community rheumatology clinics. About House Rx House Rx is a healthcare technology and services company focused on making specialty medication more accessible and affordable. The company partners with specialty clinics across the country to help these community clinics offer medically integrated dispensing, bringing together clinical and pharmacy expertise to better serve patients, lower the cost of care, and create a better experience for patients and their caregivers. Learn more at www.houserx.com. About Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates With 19 physicians, 30 advanced practice providers, and 10 clinics around the state of Arizona, AARA is one of the largest rheumatology practices in the country bringing world-class expertise to patients managing autoimmune conditions. A member of the American Rheumatology Network, and always at the forefront of rheumatology care, AARA has led the way in addressing the rheumatologist workforce shortage by integrating advanced practice providers into their practice, which has allowed the practice to scale clinical operations and meet the demand of a growing patient population. About Arthritis & Osteoporosis Consultants of the Carolinas Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, AOCC has 10 physicians and 5 advanced practice providers caring for patients across two clinics. Combining years of experience in private practice, academic teaching and clinical research, the clinic staff provides highly individualized and state-of-the-art care. About Arthritis Associates Founded in 1975, Arthritis Associates has been at the forefront of rheumatological care in Chattanooga, TN and is the only practice in the area treating both adult and pediatric patients. Arthritis Associates has an excellent, experienced and knowledgeable team including skilled nurses who can administer intravenous treatments onsite, supervised by a board-certified rheumatologist.

Read More

BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Announces Inducement Grants Under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

Ligand Pharmaceuticals | August 02, 2022

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated announced that effective August 1, 2022, Ligand’s Board of Directors approved the grant of non-qualified stock option awards to purchase an aggregate of 90,073 shares of its common stock, 5,000 restricted stock units and 4,000 performance stock units the target level to six non-executive employees. The options were granted on August 1, 2022, and the grant date for the RSUs and the PSUs will be the date on which Ligand files a Form S-8 Registration Statement to register the shares pursuant to Ligand’s 2022 Employment Inducement Plan. The awards were granted under the Inducement Plan as employment inducement awards pursuant to NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The Inducement Plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Ligand, or following a bona fide period of non-employment, as an inducement material to such individuals’ entering into employment with Ligand, pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The options have an exercise price of $89.70 per share, which is the closing price of Ligand’s common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on August 1, 2022. The stock options have a term of ten years and will vest over four years, with 12.5% of the shares vesting six months after the employee’s commencement of employment and the balance of the shares vesting in 42 equal monthly installments thereafter, subject to the grantee’s continued service on such vesting dates. The RSUs will vest over three years on the first three anniversaries of the grantee’s commencement of employment, subject to continued service through each applicable vesting date. The PSUs will vest based on the achievement of certain total shareholder return objectives and the completion of the contemplated spin-off of OmniAb, Inc. from Ligand. The number of shares earned under the PSUs may be up to 6,500 in the aggregate if maximum performance levels are achieved. About Ligand Pharmaceuticals Ligand is a revenue-generating biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable, diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery, early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do best (late-stage development, regulatory management and commercialization) ultimately to generate our revenue. Ligand’s OmniAb® technology platform is a patent-protected transgenic animal platform used in the discovery of fully human monoclonal and bispecific therapeutic antibodies. The Captisol® platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and stability of drugs. Ligand’s Pelican Expression Technology® is a robust, validated, cost-effective and scalable platform for recombinant protein production that is especially well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production where traditional systems are not. Ligand has established multiple alliances, licenses and other business relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen, Takeda, Gilead Sciences and Baxter International.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Simulations Plus Enters New Collaboration to Enhance Machine Learning Models for Ionization Constants (pKa)

Simulations Plus, Inc. | August 08, 2022

Simulations Plus, Inc. a leading provider of modeling and simulation software and services for pharmaceutical safety and efficacy, announced it has entered a new collaboration with a large pharmaceutical company to extend the industry’s top-rated machine learning models for the prediction of ionization constants (pKa) in the ADMET Predictor® platform. In this collaboration, the partner company will contribute tens of thousands of proprietary pKa measurements. The team at Simulations Plus will aim to leverage the expansive databases to improve the accuracy of predictions, and extend the chemical coverage space, using its novel machine learning and atomic descriptor calculation methods. “The ionization of molecules in water impacts nearly all properties driving the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination processes which occur in vivo and determine whether a molecule can be turned into a drug. We identified early the importance of accurately, and rapidly, predicting this information using machine learning approaches and were fortunate to benefit from government grants and other collaborations over the years to develop novel 2D pKa models which have consistently outperformed other software and are on par with the accuracy of the best computationally intensive ab initio methods. This new partnership will enhance our current approaches and further distinguish ADMET Predictor as the preeminent property prediction platform in the drug discovery space. We value the trust and confidence our partner has in the people and technologies at Simulations Plus, and our team is looking forward to working with them to achieve our mutual goals.” Dr. Robert Fraczkiewicz, Research Fellow and project lead “The surging popularity of our pKa models and associated ionization-related property predictions, coupled with the seamless integration with the GastroPlus® platform in our high-throughput pharmacokinetic simulation technology, have contributed to the accelerated adoption of ADMET Predictor at the interface between discovery and development,” added Dr. Eric Jamois, director for key accounts and strategic alliances. “This new collaborative effort will combine the strengths of both companies and result in significant advancements for predictive modeling. Simulations Plus ensures that improvements made to ADMET Predictor are available for all clients to apply to their research activities, and we continue to invite future collaborations which benefit our entire user community and, most importantly, the patients that we serve.” About Simulations Plus Serving clients worldwide for more than 25 years, Simulations Plus is a leading provider in the biosimulation market providing software and consulting services supporting drug discovery, development, research, and regulatory submissions. We offer solutions that bridge machine learning, physiologically based pharmacokinetics, quantitative systems pharmacology/toxicology, and population PK/PD modeling approaches. Our technology is licensed and applied by major pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and regulatory agencies worldwide. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) We focus our Environmental, Social, and Governance efforts where we can have the most positive impact. To learn more about our latest initiatives and priorities, please visit our website to read our ESG Report.

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