Althea's IPO

Creative Services, Public Relations

Althea’s IPO won Best Investor Relations Campaign in the National PRIA Golden Target Awards 2019

Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Australia since 2016, for eligible patients suffering a range of illnesses from paediatric epilepsy and anorexia, to cancer pain, neuropathic pain and palliative care. But due to strict regulations, arduous paperwork and limited education about the efficacy of medicinal cannabis amongst medical practitioners, take-up of the exciting new therapeutic treatment was slow amongst patients who often felt confused about if or how they could access treatment.

Enter Althea, one of the first Aussie companies to supply medicinal cannabis products to eligible Australian patients – with a focus on education, removing ‘green tape’ and improving the health and wellbeing of patients.

Althea chose to partner with Keep Left ahead of their IPO on the ASX in August 2018, with the brief to help establish Althea’s brand, attract investors and differentiate the company from competitors.

The Challenge:

Keep Left was laid down the challenge:

  • Gain significant media cut-through to drive investor awareness and interest in Althea’s IPO
  • Demonstrate why Althea is a smart, long-term and sustainable investment opportunity
  • Lay the communications foundations of the company

These foundations consisted of clear messaging for patients, doctors and pharmacists – that Althea is not just another ‘pot stock’. It’s a company focussed on improving the lives of patients through high-quality products, high-quality service and education for patients and medical practitioners.


The Groundwork:

Research and Insights

Before starting work on a campaign, Keep Left always embark on a thorough research phase to gain insights that inform our strategy and messaging that will resonate, educate and engage our audiences.

Keep Left’s media research identified growing scepticism and apathy was developing amongst key journalists following a number of recent medicinal cannabis company listings.

Omnibus research also uncovered a lack of awareness about legislation amongst everyday Australians.

Digital search insights reinforced this lack of awareness, with high volumes of searches about the legalities of cultivating or using medicinal cannabis and also how eligible patients could access the drug. We also found out that interest in medical marijuana had been increasing year on year.

Finally, we found that many people think Australia and their respective states have been too slow to progress in the medical cannabis space and there is a need for further education on medicinal cannabis and its therapeutic benefits for the broader community.

In-depth interviews with a cancer patient, pharmacist and doctor, uncovered the many challenges facing patients in gaining reliable information about treatment and access to medicinal cannabis and the need for broader education across the whole medical practitioner environment.

Keep Left’s research insights informed the core messaging and branding of Althea and drove the strategy to focus on Althea’s key differentiators of being patient-focussed – and having unique technology to solve the common education challenge.

Messaging and branding

Have you ever read an ASX prospectus?  Now’s your chance – take a look at the 160-page prospectus we designed and supported Althea with copywriting and editing.

This included writing a 3,000-word business overview that told Althea’s business journey, weaving in the insights and messaging we compiled to inform potential investors about the legalities of cultivating and using medicinal cannabis and how Althea’s priorities in patient care made them so much more than your average ‘pot stock’, primed to fill a massive gap in the local market.

Building Althea’s presence from the ground up, ahead of the all-important IPO, Keep Left supported the organisation by developing a holistic brand positioning strategy, including key messaging and narrative, social media setup and content and brand refresh encompassing a logo update and new style guide with key design assets such as business cards, letterheads and merchandise.

Ahead of listing day, Keep Left delivered a media training workshop with Althea’s key spokespeople, to practice with key messaging under a variety of media interview scenarios to ensure important messages were delivered in an engaging way.

Stakeholder collaboration

Under the strict compliance regulations of an ASX listing, Keep Left worked in tandem with Althea’s other partners, including legal and brokerage firms, to ensure alignment on messaging, media relations and key timings.

This required Keep Left to be agile to changing market, investor and media dynamics, and realignment of strategies at the last minute, all while remaining focussed on the objective of a strong ASX listing and quality introduction to Althea’s brand.

The Execution:

Months of planning comes down to just one day – listing day.

Keep Left secured coverage and an interview with Althea CEO and Managing Director, Josh Fegan ahead of time, which broke early on listing day and was picked up across over 120 outlets within a few hours

From then, it was all systems go with the Keep Left team pitching and coordinating interviews to announce to key Tier 1 business and investor media that stocks were now live.

The media strategy was developed to support achievement of the highest quality media coverage through the Keep Left Impact Score. The unique success measures of the campaign ‘or client mandatories’ included:

  • That stories added more depth and built thought leadership credentials through inclusion of a quote from interviews with Althea’s CEO.
  • The story included key differentiator messaging about Althea’s Patient focussed approach through medicinal cannabis education.
  • And finally, that stories in included an investor call to action around the stocks being live, the ASX code being referenced or a mention of the share price.

We recognised that being Althea’s first foray into media, that it was important to not only focus messaging on investors, but also consider the key audiences of patients and medical practitioners in our strategy, to maximise the opportunities the ASX milestone represented.

The Results:

In total, we achieved 171 news pieces off the back of the ASX listing, with 22 unique stories across the likes of the Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, 9 Finance, Business News Australia, Business Insider and Investor Daily, reaching a total audience of 73 million and blitzing the media KPI of 10 pieces.

In terms of media quality – coverage averaged a Keep Left Impact score of 81.62 out of 100. For a story that received such high syndications, this demonstrates a fantastic result: specifically, with 76% of coverage including more than one key message, 59% of coverage including all the key mandatories and 94% of coverage placed in Tier 1 media.

But what about the all-important share price?

Well, Althea tripled its value on its ASX debut, having raised $19.6 million at an issue price of $0.20c per share ahead of its listing in a heavily oversubscribed IPO.

The Verdict:

Well, the numbers on listing day speak for themselves, but the listing was just the start of the journey for Althea. The organisation has continued to grow, both in Australia and new markets like the UK. And most importantly, it’s patient-focussed mantra has become a reality with the company leading the way in education and access to high quality medicinal cannabis for patients in Australia and the UK.

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and Keep Left is proud to have supported Althea’s critical first interactions with media, investors as well as patients, and the medical community through a highly successful ASX IPO.