Pharma Social Media – Moving Forwards?

After recently blogging about the GSK FaceBook case, I decided to share this best practice at the recent SMi Social Media Conference in London.  The purpose of sharing this was to highlight how well GSK do, in both responding to comments and allowing ‘negative’ comments to stand on their FaceBook wall.

It clearly takes a significant effort to maintain this online presence, however they do this very well, particularly providing regular posts around positive new stories.  These create a feel good factor and dilute the comments made by ‘persistent detractors’

There was a moment of drama (not sure if we really have drama in Pharma) when an Adverse Event came to light during the presentation.

Rather than sharing the experience in a full blog post I have attached a link to the slides, with notes to signpost you through.  Hopefully a useful reference!

 

gary monk presentation
Presentation at SMI congress (Gary Monk)

 

Integration is the New Innovation

It seems i missed the season, where multiple predictions are made, on how technology will impact our lives in general and healthcare specifically.  These predictions range from the very optimistic to the very obvious. Now, I’m not knocking this sport – if I had dusted off my crystal ball in time I would certainly have given it a go.

Clearly hibernating and late out of the starting blocks I thought I would indulge myself with only 1 pharma 2013 prediction. In fact prediction is a little grandiose, it is more of an observation,

This year will be where ‘Pharma’ spends it’s energies integrating existing tactics rather than experimenting with new ones.

Several high profile clients I have worked with in 2012 are doing very little revolutionary in terms of individual tactics. The innovative bit, is actually joining the right old & new tactics together in a way that meets customer & business needs, in an efficient and measurable way.

Admittedly this may sound insipid and uninspiring, clearly less fun compared to say… developing a novel thought recognition health social media platform that is able to moderate comments and record Adverse Events before they are even written. etc. etc.

However, effective integration is the key to unlocking the business value from digital & social media and many pharma companies are starting to realise this.

Similar to me with this post, some of the companies I work with were late out of the starting blocks when it came to digital marketing. They let the pioneers take the arrows – learn from the early mistakes & successes and are now in a position to leapfrog their digital exploring rivals.

Some examples of this thinking are:-

  • Ensuring there are defined and accessible metrics for each and every tactic, from web portals to medical apps.  Based on customer behaviour and feedback the tactic can then be quickly optimised, scrapped or replaced.
  • Customer channel preferences should be captured, allowing them to select the channel and frequency of communication.
  • The entire customer journey needs to be mapped and relevant, engaging content served up at each stage. An easy truism to trot out, yet a significant challenge to make a reality.  An example, is if a customer completes an online learning module, their responses should be used to tailor future modules and inform the wider relationship with the company.
  • Strong behavioural calls to action need to be set up and monitored, i.e. number of Doctors reviewing a product administration video or number of patients downloading a symptom checking app or simple checklist, that recommends they see a doctor if required.
  • And of course ensuring a tighter integration with the sales force, if they are indeed a relevant part of the mix.

So then, is 2013 set to be a boring year for pharma?

Well I actually can’t see many (business!) things being more exciting than being able to deliver mutual customer & business value in a measurable way.

There will and should still be experimentation of course, primarily at a strategic level, where pharma examines suitable future business models and what services will be most relevant to consumers in the emerging landscape.

I’d be interested in hearing if this is reality, is the experimentation phase being replaced by one of more focussed integrated execution?  Or is my experience at odds with an ongoing digital wild west of pharma? Feel free to add your thoughts…

Pharma’s Shining Facebook Star

 

Malevolent, destructive, atrocious, money-hungry, child murderers, cure suppressors, evil cartels, fraudsters, criminals, sub-human scum….

These are just some of the descriptors of the pharma industry and its ‘brainwashed’ employees, as you trawl across various blogs and online forums.

OK, I have focused on the negative, but it is the fear of these negative adjectives, that often prevents pharma companies allowing public comments on their sites and engaging in social media.

It is not actually a fear of regulations.  These adjectives could legitimately appear on a pharma owned site, without any regulatory or legal issues.

It is just they are not very nice, so why would pharma want them posted on their online property?

If these, less than appealing, sentiments appear on sites not owned by a pharmaceutical company, they can simply bury their collective heads in the social media quick sand and pretend they don’t exist.

One company that has an interesting and forward-thinking approach to negative commentary, is GSK.  They have a corporate FaceBook page and are pretty laissez-faire in terms of what can be posted (as long as it does not breach healthcare regulations)

I was speaking at a congress in the summer, highlighting the GSK Facebook page, which was taking a verbal assault at the time.

GSK had posted a link highlighting the need to ensure access to medicines for all children, regardless of 1st,2nd or 3rd world status.  A pretty reasonable aspiration you may think, well here are some of the negative comments that fed through to their page.

That is fairly strong language to allow on your own site.  It is interesting over 3 months later and the above comments are still resident in the GSK space.

The abuse went on, turning even nastier…

After a recent review I could not find the ‘M Kumar’ comment.  It may have been deleted, the user retracted it (maybe unlikely) or I somehow missed it.

If it was deleted by GSK, I don’t know the why, maybe a legal reason or the fact it was more vitriolic than most.   It may have been too much, even for GSKs Social Media liberal stomach.

Actually with the amount of positive news on the FaceBook page, they need not have worried.

GSK are so effective at posting new content (either daily or several times a week) this toxic post would have been buried, like a virtual ‘dirty fish & chip wrapper’ under the torrent of significant ‘new news’ and positive comments.

Positive comments you may ask?! Well yes things got better…

In fact the above comments are a one sided selection, at the time GSK also had many defenders, most either current or past employees.

The summer followed with GSK leveraging its Olympic Sponsorship to surf on a wave of public goodwill.  The vast majority of comments were positive, both to the Team GB Olympians and GSK.

There were a few cynics (one responding to a GSK post on Team GB Bronze Medal Gymnast – Beth Tweddle, one of the anti-doping ambassadors)

GSK elected to respond selectively to negative comments, they tended to ignore those who just wanted to attack.  The example below shows some advice offered to a ‘negative commentator’ (or in more human language a ‘frustrated patient’)

GSK also have responded to comments on the thorny subject of animal testing meaning they can put the GSK & wider industry point of view, across to the public.

Recently comments have been largely positive.

The key take home message is that if you cultivate a positive & supportive community, it can overcome negative online comments and outright attacks.

Actually having a mix of detractors and defenders, with suitable & timely responses from the company intermingled, gives a more realistic view and actually allows the company to show its human face.  It shows a company proud of what it does and prepared to embrace opinion from all sides of the argument.

If all negative comments were to be deleted, this would be weaker, showing a Stalinistic veneer of positivity.  A corporate machine tries to mask criticism, human beings channel it, and where appropriate respond.

Note that a 2011 survey shows GSK’s reputation is improving, while the Pharma Industry’s is falling.  GSK’s approach to online engagement can surely only enhance that standing.

Not having spoken to GSK about this project, I don’t know what their objectives were.  I would speculate they were indeed around building trust and engagement, and that GSK are probably happy with the results.

Individual Pharma companies have to decide, if there is indeed, a business case for social media engagement.

If there is, then the required action, is to be brave and go for it. As GSK have demonstrated, with the right planning and approach, there is nothing to be scared of.

Gary Monk and 2Rs SEO war

I Googled my name recently.

Almost immediately I felt a slight sense of frustration and embarrassment.

These feelings were not evoked by the ‘egocentric’ act of ‘Self Googling’ (honest), I mean everyone does that…don’t they?

The frustration was that Google perpetually (ahem yes I checked repeatedly) self corrected, assuming I was actually searching for another Gary Monk, (actually spelt with 2r’s and captain of Premier League football team Swansea City)

Gary Monk
I don’t even play football!

 

This meant I had to click through to the ‘right’ Gary Monk every time.

The acute embarrassment was not created, by finding something I would rather not see about myself online, rather by noticing that once I had clicked through to the ‘real’ Gary Monk, my most recent blog post was August last year.

Gary Monk

Well I have been busy etc etc, but still my gut reaction was that I needed to post something, anything.  Just write absolutely anything, at least with a revised date it will look more current!

The goal (no footy pun intended) I immediately set myself was for this blog site to be number 1 in Google and of course for Google to no longer assume ‘gary monk’ was a typo in favour of the 2R version.

I have cheekily employed some immediate tactics in this post. Not wanting to help the other Gary Monk (with 2Rs) in the search engine stakes I have refused to write his name correctly anywhere in this blog, referring to him henceforth as 2Rs.  I have ‘generously’ used the name Gary Monk throughout this post, even in the blog title and alt tags of the images (in case you didn’t notice) in the hope that this increased ‘keyword density’ might appeal to Google when Gary Monk (1R) is typed into the search field (most likely by Gary Monk himself)

Maybe my blog will not have the gravity to usurp the captain of a mid-table premiership footy team, but it will make this Gary Monk feel like he is doing something positive towards his goal.  Also I am not against 2Rs owning his 2R space but would prefer his gets his online hands off the 1R territory.

Now I am not entirely comfortable with peppering Gary Monk throughout this blog post especially resorting to speaking about myself (that’s Gary Monk to be clear) in the 3rd person in order to shoehorn a few more gratuitous Gary Monks in there, but it is a means to an end.  (although I am not sure which of the 50 shades of Grey Hat SEO this falls under)

Longer term I have also committed to writing regular blog posts to meet my objectives of being Google’s preferred Gary Monk and getting this site to the top of the rankings.

After some reflection, I realised I have a goal of personal Google domination and at least the semblance of a plan to get there (admittedly it may need some work!) but I have not explored my purpose for doing this?

Is it ego driven? to generate some discussion and debate? provide useful content to the relevant online communities? for fun? to generate leads for my business? to increase my online presence and impact?

Any one of these is ok, if I am clear about it.  I should of course establish success metrics where appropriate, for example being able to quantify business leads gained (or possibly increase in head circumference size for the more self-indulgent purposes)

However this quick fire reaction, actually means I am actually guilty of what I often challenge Pharma on, in the course of my work.  The knee-jerk “We need to do this now and this is how we will do it” without exploring the purpose and what real success actually looks like.

‘Let us try to optimise our websites for search’ without considering whether any of our target patients or doctors will actually go there.

If we do get them to our website, what will they actually do differently as a result, what call to actions are in place to both drive and measure these behavioural shifts?

The list goes on… ‘we need to ‘do a social media campaign’, create a series of mobile apps, maximise hits on our site…’

These objectives are often formed without understanding how our audience or company will actually benefit as a result.

So then, I need to go back to defining my purpose, or simply wait for 2Rs to retire from professional football.

Jumping on the Pharma Facebook Deathwagon

August 15th 2011 has passed, the day Facebook policy forced Pharma to activate its ‘Wall’ and allow people to write comments.

The build up to this ‘monumental’ event involved significant speculation – at least from online commentators (I didn’t catch it on the BBC but may have missed it)

Who would brave the storm of actually interacting with human beings online?

Who would choose the latter option of the cliché , ‘Engage or Die’

The majority of the online industry commentary was unsympathetic to Pharma’s dilemma.  The contrarian viewpoint was to defend those Pharma Facebook pages with wall comments switched off.  Everyone else just ‘laid the boot in’ to those pages about to draw their last breaths.  I was quick, to jump in with the majority and suggest :-

‘Voluntary euthanasia is the best thing for these Facebook pages allowing only a one way flow of information’

From a practical perspective, Jonathan Richman has a very strong argument why it is pointless having such a page.  Due to Facebook’s social algorithm, if you don’t allow comments, your Facebook page is effectively invisible.  It won’t appear in your ‘Fans’ newsfeed and no one will ever visit.

However this ‘crowing’ by myself and others, about the death of this ‘unengaging’ media risks missing an important point.

If we then agree, all Pharma facebook pages with disabled comments were bad, do we by inductive reasoning conclude, all such pages that have an open wall and commenting policy are good?

I won’t elaborate on the small number, of brave existing sites, who are staying ‘in business’ with largely laudable aims of developing a human face for pharma.  I am talking about the future Pharma-Zuckerberg spawn we have yet to witness.

My upbeat prediction, is that this watershed will actually embolden Pharma and spawn-a-plenty there will be.  The industry will rapidly note the world does not end, and the companies that allow comments won’t be run out of business.  We will then see a quick increase of Pharma Facebook 2.0 projects.

My downbeat prediction, many of these pages will be created with little or no regard to strategy – the questions below, will go largely unanswered.

–       Who are the people we should be communicating with?

–       Where are they online?

–       What do they want from us?

–       What are our business objectives?

–       What ‘behavioural’ objectives do we have for our target group?

–       What does ‘good’ look like and how do we measure it?

–       What is our long term strategy?

If you set up a Facebook page and people actually want to interact with it and comment then, you will, get noticed.

Without critical strategic thinking you may ‘get lucky’ and provide value for the community but not for your business.  Maybe at a future point in time, the page has served its business objectives but is still providing value to patients – what do you do?

The big problem for Pharma Facebook 1.0 pages was that they were invisible.  The big problem Pharma Facebook 2.0 pages may face is that they are not.

 

The Holy Grail of Digital Marketing

 

Often we overcomplicate things, in marketing generally and specifically in our approach to all things digital.

A recent survey uncovered the top 10 barriers to ‘digital’ within Pharma.

The list below may look daunting however, when you put your energy and focus into solving just one of these barriers, you make it a lot easier to alleviate the other 9.

The most common barriers to digital are:-

1) Regulatory and Legal issues

2) No clear (e)business strategy

3) Return on investment questions

4) Not enough internal knowledge

5) Healthcare compliance issues

6) No headcount to support digital

7) Pharmacovigilance concerns

8) No budget

9) No senior management support

10) Customers are not ready

 

So which barrier is the master key to unlock the others?

Surely the answer is #1 regulation, we first get clarity on what we can or can’t do under the ABPI code / FDA guidelines? We can then focus on what is clearly permissible and build our approach around that?

Actually the answer has to be #2 – No clear business strategy.  (Forget the ‘e’ prefix)

 

  • Understand where your customers are online and offline
  • Refine your business objectives in terms of what you specifically want to achieve with your stakeholders.
  • Define how you plan to achieve this and what a good result will look like.

 

You may have the skills in house or require external support.  Either way this step will take time, commitment and effort, I do not promise this one barrier is easy but do it and see for yourself, how the rest of the barriers will tumble like dominoes.

Twitter challenge

There are 9 barriers to cover, so I will have to save the detail for future postings. In the meantime, I have set myself a challenge to demonstrate, how a clear strategy overcomes these obstacles, in no more than a 140 character tweet (with in most cases some room for hash tags and a short link)

 

#1 Regulatory and Legal issues

Clear strategy = embracing word and spirit of external regulations + crushing false internal arguments

 

#2  No clear (e)business strategy

Clear strategy = the pharma digital silver bullet…well almost

 

#3  Return on investment questions

Clear strategy = clear metrics = clear ROI

 

#4   Not enough internal knowledge

Clear strategy = prioritised areas of focus = identified internal training needs

 

#5   Healthcare compliance issues

Clear strategy + senior management support = breakdown of false internal barriers

 

#6   No headcount to support digital

Clear strategy = understanding resource gaps  = hiring + internal restructure

 

#7  Pharmacovigilance concerns

Clear strategy + a little research = an understanding pharmacovigilance is NOT an issue

 

#8  No budget

Clear strategy = a clear understanding where to invest the cash (digital or not)

 

#9  No senior management support

Clear strategy + early involvement of key stakeholders = the right senior management support

 

#10 Customers are not ready

Clear strategy = objective understanding of customers needs + NOT subjective decisions based on fear

 

Focusing on the strategy will prove invaluable, in overcoming all of these potential blocks.  Where I have personally used it and seen it employed to best effect, is overcoming the #1 challenge ‘perceived’ regulatory and legal issues.  I have added in ‘perceived’ here as often these barriers are all the mind of the medical & compliance guys.  That has to be the subject of another blog post, however if you are faced with these spurious arguments, there is no better way to crush them, than with a solid well articulated business strategy.

The corollary of this, if you don’t focus massively on defining a clear strategy, regardless of the above barriers, you are set to fail.  This means, you ultimately deserve all the slings and arrows thrown your way.   Regarding ill thought out projects, digital or otherwise, the best result for all concerned is a rapid demise to the cutting room floor.

 

Is tweeting the C word bad PR or does bad PR deserve it?

After tweeting the word ‘crap’ last Friday and finding it quoted on the popular pharma marketing blog, I wondered if I was in danger of literally soiling my digital footprint.

The Tweet

‘I generally find pharma #PR agencies utter crap when it comes to SocMed. Better trust it to a gorilla in a wet suit’

The Context

The blog and twitter discussion was whether Pharma co’s should outsource their soc med campaigns to PR companies, after their alledged failure and lack of competence in this area.

It also asked whether interactive marketing agencies would be best placed to fill this social media competency void.

Actually in this context, and with hindsight I feel the language in my tweet was rather weak.

My opinion was formed from my time in pharma marketing, rather than having some inter-agency axe to grind. (which i don’t)

If pharma wants to become trusted it needs to paradoxically let people express their lack of trust, and take part in the conversation.  To illustrate i have highlighted negative comments out of the ADHD You tube project I lead while at Janssen.

 

‘DRUG PUSHERS. Dont pretend to try to help when all you want to do is advertise your name so people stuff your drugs down their necks’

‘Support groups that are not propped up by drug companies are where people should go for help. Not drug dealers’

‘THE SOLUTION IS NOT DRUGGING YOUR CHILDREN’

‘Drug company propoganda posing as information video’


Now these are out of context and the beauty is these comments are balanced by opposing view points.  Without this open dialogue we don’t go anywhere apart from fostering anti-pharma extremism over the web.  The thing is allowing these type of comments is anathema to most ‘traditional’ PR agencies.

When I try to explain to PR folk, this concept of allowing people to express opinions unfavourable to the industry on pharma’s digital real estate, they laugh like its some sick joke.  When they realise I’m serious their expression moves quickly to one of disdain, a visual cue  that confirms they categorise me as an ueber idiot.  They politely excuse themselves and tootle off to a fluffier place with canapes, champagne and some journalists willing to seed their sugar coated one way messages.

My tweet was never going to offend.  Most pharma PR guys have either buried their head in the Twitter sand or have mal adopted Twitter as a shouting platform.  Busy broadcasting their own messages, my tweet would not have penetrated their sealed off ear canals.  The PR guys that saw it are the good guys who are engaging and trying to move their industry forward and clearly not my target.

I have made the point that we need open dialogue in pharma and my view that most PR agencies are poor at this.  Their is another important overarching point to close on.

Before you decide whether to hire a PR agency, interactive digital agency or implement your social media campaign in house, take a step back to look at your objectives and strategy.

Your shortlisted agency PR or otherwise, may end up being great tactically and really understand the need for open and transparent dialogue.  However if the strategy is absent or wrong then the end result of your social media campaign is likely to be….. utter crap.

Why Pharma needs to stop acting and start talking

I have become fed up over the years, of witnessing the industry I am proud to work for, get caricatured as some demonic, uncaring, profit hungry, evil monster.

I see this picture painted, through the traditional media channels and on a personal level, from many people I meet outside of pharma.

“How can you reconcile what you do for a job”  –  “How do you sleep at night doing what you do for a living?”  –  “don’t you think what you do is really unethical”… are just some of the comments hurled my way.

I even tweeted, at a cross industry social media event last year, about the need for pharma to join the conversation.  The response:-

“People actually talking about social media for Big Pharma? Social Media is going to kill Big Pharma – I hope! ”

The allegations behind these comments are often “Profits before patients” – “Hiding side effects of medicines” –  “lack of transparency” – “keeping sick people sick AND on your drugs”

I realise no individual, company or industry is perfect but pharma definitely don’t deserve this polarised reputation…. Or do we?

Sadly, I think yes we do.

Not because I support the negative things that are said, but that collectively we are unprepared to defend ourselves, in the face of such stinging criticism.

In this case the best form of defence is dialogue.  However there is still a lack of concerted industry will, to have conversations with patients and the public, on their agenda and on their turf (which is increasingly online)

There have been some laudable industry projects that have sought to engage patients and the public in conversation, however to date these are few.

So why don’t we just maintain our aloofness, and our self belief that we are well meaning, running an ethical business but also doing good for society.  Just ignore the critical masses, if that’s their view then its their problem?

Actually it is our problem.

Less than half of patients take their medication as prescribed, now there are a number of reasons for this, but do we really think it helps compliance with medication if the patient has a negative view of the industry?

As pharma moves into a world where we offer services beyond medicines to patients, are patients going to accept these services from companies they don’t trust?

How can we move towards personalised medicine, the best treatment for each individual patient without trust?  Trust is key for a patient to accept this level of intimacy and we need to be prepared to understand and care for each patient.

So what should we do?

At an industry & organizational level, we clearly need to set ourselves up, so that we can have an open as possible dialogue with patients and the public.  This includes listening to everything that is being said online about our companies and brands, and responding where appropriate.  Clearly resourcing will have to be redeployed and all discussions need to come from individuals with a human profile – and not ‘thanks for your feedback, best regards, THE COMPANY’

The real power however, comes from what we can all do as individuals who work within the industry.

Several years ago, before the birth of the ‘social web’, I witnessed the launch of a programme that encouraged pharma employees to respond positively and defend their industry in the face of outside criticism.  Employees were armed with industry fact books, in order to go out into their social sphere and try to put the record straight whenever their industry was criticised.  The idea being, that we need to defend our industry’s reputation, as individuals, and this will spread through word of mouth.  It was well received and I think most companies would encourage this positive pride in what we do.

Now the world has changed, why are companies not evolving this idea and advocating their employees spread the positive side of what we do and enter into dialogue, within their own online social networks?

But what about the legal issues?  Someone could get misquoted, say something flippant and it be taken seriously? Imagine the damage….

I don’t accept this, we need to trust our people and start thinking of the power and positive ripple effect this will have.  This approach will be a lot more efficacious than someone responding to a negative challenge at a dinner party.  The sooner companies encourage their employees to get involved in online discussions related to their industry, the sooner we can mend our broken reputation.   Clearly guidelines may be required but these should be based on common sense and transparent outside of the company.

For the last year I have regularly taken part in the online weekly twitter meeting under the ‘hashtag’ of #HCSMEU, a forum for advancing the online discussion of healthcare by all stakeholders, patients, doctors and even pharma.  There is a good representation from pharma but also patients and clinicians.  A GP can post a negative article about pharma, but I or anyone else can reply.

I noted last week that the lady that hoped ‘social media will kill big pharma’ stepped into the forum.  We had brief online discussion and she even asked me how pharma may be able to support a stand up comedian friend, who has recently recovered from congestive heart failure.  I don’t know if she holds the same views, the point is now whichever side of the debate we are on we have a seat at the table and are having a dialogue.

How can we miss this opportunity?

To conclude, I know its not easy for the industry to make a big change overnight however as individuals we can start making a real difference now.

In terms of communications, I hope the day pharma stops just acting like its saying stuff that matters to patients and actually talking to them on their terms, is fast approaching.

And it is each of our responsibilities to make that happen.

@garymonk

21/2/11

No Media is an Island

I was recently a guest on @pharmaguy ’s (aka John Mack) blogtalk radio show.  The title of the show – ‘Is “Social Media” a Distinction Without Meaning in Today’s World?’

This appellation, was in reference to an article, by co-guest @Alex__Butler, entitled ‘Social Media doesn’t really exist’.  If you read Alex’s article, he says a lot more than that, however the title argues that virtually everything now, of value, on the web is social, so the term ‘social media’ has little meaning.

Firstly Alex, Silja Choquet (@WhyDotPharma) and myself, outlined our respective presentations for this weeks SMi conference, also worth a listen in the archive if you are attending.  Then we debated this little matter about whether social media exists or not!

Alex made an important clarification,  people can be solely consumers of content, not engaging with a community or creating content, yet the medium can be indeed social.  The example Alex offered, was Trip Advisor, where most people will ‘consume’ reviews yet never bother to post them.  The majority are hugely influenced by the minority, that actually post the reviews.

My take was that virtually ‘all media is social’ now, whether it is online or not.  Even if it does not have a social element, it will often be integrated socially. An obvious example is a TV advert promoting a Facebook site.  This means that the term ‘social’ becomes redundant and we are left with just ‘media’.

The ‘all media is social’ idea, is not a new concept.  (I sadly googled this and there are hundreds of entries from as early as 2006!)  The principle is not in doubt, when you read  the blogs of various ‘social media’  commentators, (who probably actually don’t exist!) , the only debate seems to be in the definition itself, i.e. just because a TV advert links to some social content, does not make it, itself inherently social…. Anyway enough of that!

Engagement and providing high quality content will be decisive in the end.  Before that however, it is vital to start with the fundamentals of marketing, i.e. who are your customers, what do they need and what behaviours are you trying to drive.

This brings me to the title of this blog that ‘No Media is an island’

Consider these questions :-

  • Are all elements of your marketing plan working in a co-ordinated way and towards the same objective?
  • Do you understand the consumer journey – how they are influenced by, and how do they engage with the various channels throughout?
  • What is the relative impact of these channels? (online and offline)

If you can’t answer these questions you may be suffering from an ‘island mentality’ of sorts.  A belief that the chosen media is more important than the strategy, and does not need to link together with your objective, and other elements of your ‘mix’.

These questions may sound obvious and textbook-esque but the reality is that such integration and insight seldom happens.

You can judge if the title ‘No Media is an island’ has any relevance or resonance in this regard.  Maybe ‘No media should be an island’ would a more accurate way of putting it – as there are, no doubt, plenty of media islands out there.

You may be content with your company/brand website being a deserted island, if so make sure you have a long cocktail and a fully stocked iPod, as it may be a while before anyone drops by……

P.S. I have a confession, I did google ‘No media is an island’ and could not find any references to it – so at least its original I guess (The poet John Donne may disagree….)

An interesting few weeks….

Some highlights from #Digipharm 

  • Meeting up with fellow tweeters such as @pharmaguy @rohal @blogaceutics to name a few
  • I was pleased to have my suspicions that @pharmaguy aka John Mack is indeed a nice guy confirmed. He comes with something of a reputation, due to delivery of the Infamous ‘Mack Attack’ to those in pharma he feels are not doing things right, but you would never sense this in person
  • Consultant Dr Ameet Bakhai was good value. After the first five minutes listening to him you may feel there was no place for pharma representatives in the modern age. It soon became clear there is a need for multidisciplinary, highly knowledgeable teams (including sales representatives) to deliver information and support to clinicians. As one twitter commentator pointed out he is only 1 clinician – however there are many like him, who, while inherently dismissive of pharma can actually be persuaded of the value, the industry has to offer – If we go about things in the right way!
  • Some future perspectives on the future of health care and the Psoriasis 360 project from @Alex__Butler (mentioned below)
  • @Whydotpharma aka Silja, presenting with @AndrewSpong in silence after losing her voice
  • Speaking on the ADHD You Tube awareness campaign was exciting, I did not expect such an interested response in discussing the type of comments we could not post. My aim was to highlight the – not always obvious – challenges, with a moderated approach to comments

The PM Digital awards

  • It was great to see the company I work for @JanssenUK win 5 out of the 10 industry awards for the best digital projects. In my view the ‘secret’ of this success is to start by thinking about what is the right thing for the patient, then doing everything to overcome barriers to make this happen. Innovation is not always easy however I feel lucky compared to some industry colleagues, who I met at the awards and at Digipharm. I won’t name them or their companies. They allegedly propose well thought out, patient centred projects that involve 2 way communication with patients and invariably their global medical/legal departments get nervous and pull the plug.

It’s what patients think that matters

  • I was interested to read Andrew Spongs blog and associated comments on the Psoriasis 360 Facebook project, launched by @Alex__Butler.  Andrew cautions those unaffected by the condition passing comment/praise on this and other patient sites supported or set up by Pharma. The reason being, it detracts from the patient centricity and becomes a bit of a circus. I believe Alex’s efforts in making this happen indeed deserve much praise (of course in the right forum!), particularly the approach taken to post moderate comments – allowing real time discussion  Much more importantly than my humble opinion though, as evidenced on Andrew’s blog, patients are starting to find this a valuable resource. So we can pat each other on the back or offer criticism on our respective efforts to communicate with patients – In the end this becomes meaningless, as the patient is our ultimate arbiter.