Jul9

Is Print Dead?

4144823A lot has changed in print production since I entered advertising in 1987. Back in the day, printing was a form of art. A good printer was worth his or her weight in gold.

But how times have changed! Especially within the last four to five years. Art has taken a back seat, and it is down to price and speed. So what is a print buyer to do in this day and age? Is print going the way of the dinosaurs?

As I think about it, reviewing the latest research and trend reports, I have mixed feelings. I am a print person, I need it in my hand, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the digital world. It simply amazes me how far we have come since I started in this business. Google, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. You can find anything you need within seconds. How cool is that?

But hear this! Print is not dead and still has an important place. Just as radio did not bring the death of newspaper, and television did not bring the death of radio, online media will not kill off print media. A wise marketing plan must include a combination of both digital and print. Target your audience, apply segmentation, and adapt the resource allocation based on how your stakeholders prefer to receive their information. And of course, overlayed with analytics!

Print continues to have undeniable advantages over online advertising. It is narrowly targetable, highly personal, and credible to consumers. People trust the printed page. Audience specificity is guaranteed when trying to reach your customers.

In addition, print is tactile, a comfort food for the brain. Consumers are more engaged reading print, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as 15 seconds. Studies have shown that people read digital screen text slower than printed paper and read less of it.

Technology is playing a vital role as well in print. Through the Ogilvy Innovation Lab and emerging technology, unique advances in printing—such as embedding video, QR codes and even adding smell into print—have not only made this channel more interactive, but more engaging as well.

Print is also relatively long-lived while being a solid vehicle for establishing brand identity. Print advertising will continue to be a viable component for an effective multichannel campaign. Understand your customers and how they want to receive information on your product by using the right vehicles:  real-time analytics will help inform your mix of online, print, collateral and event marketing to ensure your campaign is a winner.

So don’t ignore print. It still plays an important role in your brand’s promotional campaign. I just can’t help wondering how the next decade will affect the advertising world….

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Jul2

FDA Social Media Draft Guidance Released June 2014

fdaLeading up to its final guidance to be released in July 2014, the FDA has released draft guidance on how pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers should interact with social media platforms with regard to fair balance and brand messaging. The first part of the recently released recommendations is focused on how companies post advertising and promotional messages to Internet and social media platforms with character space  limitations, such as Twitter and Google Sitelinks. The second part of the recommendations addresses how pharmaceutical and medical device companies may correct independent third-party misinformation about their brands online. While this guidance is recommended and not required, it will be beneficial for pharmaceutical companies to adopt the FDA recommendations going forward.

A brief review of the FDA recommendations is listed below, along with suggestions for practical implementation.

Internet and social media platforms with character space limitations

In its draft guidance Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations—Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices, the FDA outlines its recommendations for promotion of brand and product information using Twitter and other character-space-limited communications, such as Google Sitelinks. The recommendations are direct and seek to include fair balance in each individual communication.

The most salient points are as follows:

  • Reminder communications, which call attention to the name of a product but do not make claims, are exempt from this guidance
  • The full indication must be used when making claims in a communication
  • Benefit information should be accompanied by risk information within each individual communication
  • The content of risk information presented should, at a minimum, include the most serious risks associated with the product
  • A direct link to a more complete discussion of risk information about the product must be included in the communication

While a link to the ISI is adequate in such communications, the FDA further recommends that companies develop landing pages devoted exclusively to the communication of risk information about their products (e.g., www.product.com/risk). The format for the URL and landing page should clearly communicate that the destination will explain the risks associated with the product.

Many social media tools automatically use link shorteners to keep within the character space limitations of the communications. While the FDA does not directly oppose the use of shorteners, it recommends that the resulting URL denote to the user that the landing page contains risk information. (For example, prod.uct/risk clearly communicates that the destination is about risk.) Another solution to character space limitations is for the company to register shorter domain names that can then redirect to its product sites for use in social media.

One challenge that brands with black box warnings will face following this guidance, especially on Twitter, is in fully communicating risk information within a single tweet. For such brands it will be impossible to communicate all risks in the platform-restricted space; therefore, we recommend against using Twitter as a channel to communicate those products’ indications, benefits, and risks.

The FDA guidance also extends to paid search communications, such as Google Sitelinks. The Sitelinks feature displays up to 6 additional destination URLs for users to choose from when a paid search ad is displayed. In complying with the FDA’s draft guidance, most of the additional destination URLs provided by the brand would link to risk information in an attempt at fair balance, which might portray the product as riskier than it actually is. This might deter some companies from using Sitelinks to promote their products.

Correcting third-party misinformation

The second round of draft guidance from the FDA, Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices, seeks to improve the quality of public health information by allowing companies to correct third-party misinformation that they find online about their products. Again, these are recommendations; it is not required that a company respond to such misinformation, regardless of whether it appears on a company’s own forum or on an independent third-party forum or website.

The FDA defines misinformation as positive or negative representations or implications about a company’s product by an independent third party. There are two types of misinformation: a misrepresentation of the label, which a brand will typically want to correct, and an exaggeration of outcomes, which a brand may be tempted to leave uncorrected. The FDA recommends that companies respond to both types of misinformation.

If a company decides to correct misinformation on a third-party site, it should:

  • Provide corrective information and a link to corrective information
  • Post corrective information alongside the misinformation or refer to the misinformation in its response
  • Limit the scope of the corrective information to be specific to the misinformation, and keep it non-promotional
  • Correct positive misinformation as well as negative misinformation
  • Keep records of corrective interactions

The FDA clearly states that it will not hold a company accountable for an independent third party’s subsequent actions or lack thereof after corrective information has been supplied. Further, companies do not have to continue to monitor the third-party site after information has been corrected.

Going forward

While it is not feasible for a company to monitor all third-party sites for misinformation about its products, creating Google alerts (or similar) will help ensure that it is notified when user-generated content (UGC) about its products is trending. A company can then respond appropriately if they desire. However, consideration must be given to the level of time and effort that legal and regulatory teams must spend reviewing and filing the corrections versus the impact smaller third-party sites and individual bloggers can have on public health information.

Alternately, a company can and should focus its attention to more prominent third-party sites, such as WebMD, Wikipedia, and brand-specific hubs, in their quest to correct misinformation. This will maximize the intention of correcting the message while appropriately weighting the effort.

Overall, the draft guidance marks a significant milestone in the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to keep pace with other industries in the social media space where consumers are increasingly seeking out health information. This guidance has been a long time coming, and now pharmaceutical companies can jump into social media knowing they will be FDA compliant when the final guidance is released.

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Jun4

The Future of Journalism

reporter with camWatching the BBC news the other night, my partner Ben turned to me and asked, “What’s wrong with that reporter’s eyes? It looks like he’s checking himself out in a mirror somewhere.” He was right, the reporter was checking himself out, but it wasn’t in a mirror – he was looking at himself in the viewfinder of his video camera. Much like Tom Daly in his famous ‘coming out’ video – this journalist was recording himself, making the rookie mistake of not locking eyes on the lens, but rather admiring himself.

Video journalism, where the TV news reporter has no crew and does everything themselves, is not new. In fact a decade ago, it was touted as a great way to break into the industry as a rookie reporter. Usually video journalists worked for small television stations or were covering stories in remote parts of the world – on their own. Few people wanted to do it, so video journalism was reserved for stories which didn’t warrant standard quality pictures or audio – I mean you can forgive the shaky or out of focus pictures when the story is coming from war-torn Bosnia!

In this instance, however, the story was coming from the relative safety of East London. Why then, with Broadcasting House virtually in shouting distance, is the Capital’s premier news service using video journalists? The fact is, video journalism has become mainstream and is virtually compulsory on metropolitan newscasts and 24 hour news channels. As public relations practitioners, we’re acutely aware of shrinking newsrooms and cuts to editorial staff across the news media – and healthcare media are no exception. The rise of video journalism is one way on-the-spot reporting has survived in a budget conscious media environment. In fact, some online medical media outlets have actually grown their video news in recent years.

So, in a post ‘information superhighway’ world (remember that chestnut?) where to for journalism? The truth is, news tastes are driven by the audience and as an audience, we’re increasingly less willing to wait for carefully gathered, edited and produced news.  Journalism today is a constant tug-of-war between getting it right and getting it right now – and it’s hard to foresee this trend changing.

Immediacy is increasingly trumping quality as a battle for the ever illusive scope wages on. Journalists are fighting bloggers, gossip merchants and even Joe Public to break a story. The only trouble is, professional journalists have the onus of at least trying to get the facts right.

So not only must a journalist get the story out first, she must also be seen as an authority on the matter and be the most prolific reporter. How else would she have any cred on Twitter? When success as a journalist can equally be measured in Twitter followers as the quality of their work – journalism today requires balancing one’s online clout with actually producing quality news copy. So worried is the BBC about the focus moving toward the former, it issued guidelines in 2012 warning journalists not to break a story on Twitter before informing their newsroom colleagues.

As PR’s, we’re increasingly aware of evolving our output to service the needs of the busy multi-platform journitator. After some tweetable nuggets? Every press release will contain some. Need an on-the-spot TV studio for a quick video interview? We’ve got one waiting for you. Want to write your story two weeks in advance for an autofile while you’re trekking in the Himalayas? No problem, we’ll sort you out with an embargoed brief and interview.

It’s hard to say how journalism will evolve over the next decade, but it’s clear the pressure for immediacy is about as high as it could possibly get. With this immediacy comes a power shift from the outlet to the story teller themselves. For the time being at least, this opens up a broad opportunity for PR’s to offer tailored content across multiple platforms – albeit to a shrinking number of journalists.

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May14

Social Media for Pharma?

stethoscope social mediaHave you been looking for a way for your brand to engage in social media? Are you unsure of what the draft FDA guidance on social media means? Looking for some tips to help get you started? If so, you’re in the right place.

Social media has been an integral part of the digital marketer’s toolbox for several years. It is especially useful for driving brand awareness and generating site traffic. Unfortunately, due to the tightly regulated nature of the pharmaceutical industry, many have been reluctant to implement social media campaigns. Brand marketers have avoided them due to a lack of clear guidance from the FDA, and medical/regulatory review teams have refused to approve social campaigns due to the fear of receiving a dreaded FDA letter.

With the release of draft guidelines by the FDA in January, our industry has been provided with long-awaited parameters. Final guidelines have yet to be issued, but this is a step in the right direction. Slowly, pharmaceutical marketers are dipping their toes in the water. Here is a quick overview of the FDA’s guidance:

  • Brands are responsible for monitoring the content they publish. Content that is repurposed, posted, or used in an inappropriate way is not the responsibility of the pharmaceutical company (as long as the individual repurposing the content is not employed by the pharmaceutical company).
  • Pharmaceutical companies are not responsible for content published by associations and other partners that it provides with financial support (eg, unrestricted educational grants). Content and assets provided are the responsibility of the pharmaceutical company and must still go through typical FDA sampling.
  • Pharmaceutical companies and their representatives must clearly identify their association with brands when participating in conversations.
  • Fair balance is still in full effect. As with any other promotional medium, claims must be counterbalanced with the risks of the drug.
  • FDA submissions of interactions do not have to be submitted in real-time. Conversations that take place can be sampled after the fact to keep brands in compliance.

You can access the full document here.

Feeling more comfortable with the guidelines? Are you ready to deploy a social media campaign? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start with a strategy. As obvious as this seems, people are so anxious to implement a social media campaign, they dive in headfirst. Ensure you identify the goal of your campaign so you can measure the results of your efforts.
  • Engage in conversations with your audience. People use social media to connect with people, rarely with brands. Talk to them about topics that matter to them and are appropriately linked to your brand (eg, an antidepressant sponsoring a support forum providing tips to patients and caregivers on ways to remain positive and the importance of adherence).

According to a 2012 channel preferences research report published by ExactTarget, Facebook and Twitter rank at the bottom (4% and 1%, respectively) of channels participants want used for promotional messaging. This accentuates the importance of finding a healthy balance between brand promotion and human interaction. You can access the research here.

  • Messages must be relevant and fresh. They must take into account the context, location and intention of your audience. Not every opportunity that arises to share your marketing message should be taken. Selectivity is part of the secret to success.
  • Be flexible. The future is unpredictable. For brands to thrive in social media, they must be ready to act in the blink of an eye. Editorial calendars should not be set in stone.
  • Listen closely to the feedback of your audience and take action. The most insignificant of posts can take on a life of its own, leaving marketers scrambling to control the fallout.
  • Always have a social media crisis plan in place. Sitting idly by and not taking action is tantamount to brand suicide. Does anyone remember #mcdstories, #askJPM or #myNYPD? If not, hop on Twitter and search for the aforementioned hashtags. All are examples of hashtags that turned into “bashtags” and left their respective marketing agencies scratching their heads and scrambling to minimize the damage.

Although the pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated, social media is an opportunity to connect with your audience and should not be overlooked. With the draft FDA guidelines in hand and a sound strategy, you can now connect with consumers through social media.

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May6

Visual Storytelling Part II: Audience Engagement in 4 Steps [Infographic]

Visual-Storytelling-Part-2_ThumbPlease click on the thumbnail to the left to view full infographic.

 

 

 

 

Check out Visual Storytelling Part I: Plot Your Presentation [Infographic]

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Mar25

SXSW 2014: True Potential of Social Media in Healthcare Is Still Ahead of Us

sxsw logoOver a single-week period, SXSW Interactive hosts hundreds of presentations and panels. What was interesting to note this year, compared to the last few, is that a large percentage of healthcare discussions were now hosted on the stages of the two main convention centers, alongside all major celebrity keynotes.

Among many trends and ideas that were discussed, two concepts mentioned at the “What Happens When Tech and Healthcare Meet” panel were quite memorable. Although these are just mere single examples, each testified to a number of current trends in healthcare.

Concept: DermLink—a social network-based platform that allows patients to digitally share skin conditions with dermatologists and receive real-time responses.

Why this is important: This is especially relevant to those outside major metropolitan areas, where a wait to see the local dermatologist can exceed a few weeks. We’ve all heard success stories of doctors tapping into a broad pool of peers via Twitter and Facebook. But this platform is among the first controlled, social, care-specific environments that could potentially redefine the approach and expectations for doctor-patient interaction.

Bottom line: Regardless of the success of this platform, the mere fact that this platform is gaining momentum is an indicator that the true potential of social media in healthcare is still ahead of us.

Concept: Covered—a platform that helps applicants select the most appropriate health insurance by posing a series of qualifying questions in a standard, conversational language.

Why this is important: Although standard applications have been around for quite some time, we’re starting to see a shift in the way even insurance companies need to structure their communications. Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a similar shift in practically every single aspect of marketing communication etiquette due to social media. A simple, well-timed response to a tweet can gain greater consumer loyalty than a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad.

Bottom line: Consumers no longer want to be talked at. They want to be spoken with. This is no longer breaking news…rather, a well-known fact. But at last it is finally beginning to change the insurance companies’ tone of interaction with potential applicants.

SXSW Series:

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Feb26

Digital Trends Impacting US Healthcare – Infographic

In the past year, digital innovations have brought about new markets and channels for digital health interactions. This infographic is a visual mapping of the technologies and innovations which are already playing a key role in shaping the future of healthcare and the experiences and journeys which surround it.

Of course the ACA is affecting healthcare coverage, but it is also affecting our healthcare experiences by placing increased importance on and driving more frequent interactions with NPs, PAs, and Pharmacists. Additionally, more priority has shifted to consumers to educate themselves and take responsibility for their own health, especially when combined with our growing culture of social media and trust networks, and recent draft guidance from the FDA. Video remains hot, but the trending has shifted to the length of videos patients are consuming, increasing its relevance to pharmaceutical marketers. Mobile and tablets continue to grow rapidly, with and quantified self driving deeper engagement though apps, not just web. Last, but certainly not least, EHR is poised to enter the next phase of meaningful use, setting the stage for a platform shake-out as certification requirements evolve to provide more and deeper data sets to systems of connected health as providers continue to on-board.

Infographic of important technologies that impact digital healthcare marketing.

Infographic of important technologies that impact digital healthcare marketing.

Technology is evolving fast, and healthcare, believe it or not, is keeping pace and even leading the charge on many fronts. Spurred on by government mandates and initiatives, innovative organizations ranging from Google and Apple to Silicon Valley startups like Practice Fusion are quickly carrying the ball forward, sometimes struggling to keep pace with consumer expectations of today’s technology. It’s these digital healthcare innovations which have set the trends affecting us today, and will carry us forward to tomorrow.

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Feb18

Taking the Pulse…Tuning In to the New Patient Network

1741356 sA guest blog post from Craig Martin – Chief Executive Officer of Feinstein Kean Healthcare, an Ogilvy & Mather Company

Most of us are far too young to remember the early days of television. What I do recall from my childhood is that three networks owned the airwaves, large numbers of people followed a small number of notable programs, and the screen turned to fuzz at midnight. You made note of the TV Guide schedule, and you adjusted your schedule to the TV shows that interested you. The networks and the stars were in charge.

A lot has changed since then, obviously. There are now countless networks, and seemingly limitless numbers of shows. Reality television has made stars of “ordinary” people. And the digital age has made scheduled programming obsolete—the content follows you and adjusts to your life and device of choice, not the other way around.

Why wax nostalgic about the evolution of broadcast television? Because I believe a similarly dramatic transformation is under way in our field. The old channels and choices are fading to fuzz. A new era is dawning.

For years, healthcare PR relied on a few channels and reliable choices to reach, inform, and market to patients. On behalf of our clients, we used traditional media (earned and paid), events, celebrities and big disease education programs to build awareness and get patients to “talk to their doctors about…”

Today—as more of the burden of choice, comparison, and cost gets shifted to patients, as diseases become more and more categorized via genomic analysis and molecular diagnostics, as medical practice and health become more universally digitized, and physicians and pharma become more responsible for outcomes vs. treatments—the traditional big, broad-channel approaches are becoming less relevant and effective as a means of reaching more and more narrowly defined populations of patients.

These trends are leading to the establishment of entirely new channels and networks, made of up patients identified and aggregated virtually through the sharing of personal medical information and data. In other words, the audience is creating the network, and continually informing the programming through the data they share. Now, rather than casting a wide net via mass media and hoping a narrow audience will be watching, we will have ready-made networks, open 24/7, waiting if not demanding to be engaged. This opens up new frontiers for micro-targeted, real-time communication and measurable engagement, based almost exclusively on digital content and social influence.

Not long before the holidays we learned that Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FKH) and a select group of partners won a million-dollar government grant to develop a “patient-powered research network” for the multiple sclerosis community. This is an exciting development, but not because of the money. This new kind of network represents the leading edge of the transformation I’ve described, and we’re now right at the forefront as well.

In the days and months ahead, we’ll continue to evaluate the pace and progress of change, and work to assure that our thinking and services are aligned with where the world is headed. Naturally, we don’t want to get too far out ahead of the trend, but we must be informed and equipped to lead when the market is ready.

I believe, as this new era unfolds, we will find there are many exciting opportunities ahead for us to engage differently and far more meaningfully with patients.

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Oct9

Three Ways to Play It Safe on Social Media

Monica Wong thumbnail Rather than forgoing social media, as many pharmaceutical brands choose to do these days, there are some effective and safe alternatives to incorporate it into the pharma marketing mix.

Contrary to what others think, pharmaceutical brands do understand the need for social media. One of the primary reasons why healthcare marketers steer clear of it is the strict FDA regulations around the reporting of adverse events. The seemingly unanimous decision by most brands, or at least so it seems, is to avoid open forums altogether.

This blog provides some encouragement to pharmaceutical marketers, as well as their consultants, that effective alternatives do exist in incorporating elements of social media into their marketing programs. Here are three tools healthcare marketers can implement to safely integrate a little social media into their marketing strategies.

1.     Polls & Quizzes

Polls and quizzes—the ones without open-ended questions—provide marketers with a controlled environment. With the right tagging, each question that is asked and every answer that is presented can provide powerful insights into your audiences. Of course, the key to engagement is incentive and the not-so-secret ingredient is free stuff. For consumers, the call to action can be as simple as: “Take this poll to receive $X off your next prescription.” For HCPs, it’s: “Take this poll to receive free samples of XYZ.”

2.     Social Sharing Buttons

Social sharing buttons allow marketers to identify which social media platforms their visitors are most active on. This can be an indicator of where the brand’s presence should be once the FDA establishes more concrete guidelines and practices for healthcare marketers on social media.

Social sharing buttons can also help provide information on what content visitors are sharing and where they are sharing it from on the site. In addition, social share functions allow marketers to tag unique identifiers to URLS so that referral visitors can be easily tracked backed to the referral source. It can help answer questions such as: Are visitors sharing more on Twitter, but is Facebook driving more traffic?

3.     Pinterest

The absence of an open forum eliminates the threat of visitors potentially expressing negative side effects. One of the few social media platforms that are solely visually focused is Pinterest. Parker White published a great article titled “Medical Marketing on Pinterest: The Safest Place to Start Health Care Social Media” on the perks of being on Pinterest.

Unlike Facebook, users aren’t on Pinterest for the conversation. They’re there to share and “pin” their favorite images. The lack of conversation means that marketers don’t have to consistently monitor and reply to comments. This makes managing Pinterest a lot less time consuming. In addition, since the social network is visually based, marketers already have the assets they need to start pinning.

Implementing one or two of these tools can help ease your brand safely into the social media space, while bringing it to levels of sophistication similar to consumer brands such as Nike and Coke.

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Jun27

Is it possible to get thousands of social media fans in healthcare?

Lourdes thumbnailConsumer Product and Service Communication has taken a Copernican turn since social media appeared. Content generated by users has led to a level of dynamization almost unthinkable a few years ago. Social networks have revitalized many withered sectors such as fashion and music which had been facing the new era with a certain amount of fright.

An inevitable question comes to mind: Are there any chances of creating the same revolution in the promotion of pharmaceutical products?

As a first thought, social networks are not a tool you can expect results from in every scenario. Just as TV campaigns or street boards aren’t applicable to every single target or product, social networks may not be efficient in the promotion of every pharmaceutical product.

Before answering the question posed in this post’s headline, it is best to ask ourselves three questions:

1.    Is the drug intended to treat severe illness?

In general terms, there’s a direct relation between the seriousness of the illness that the drug is for and the suitability of the social media campaign. Health sectors such as allergy, fertility, and smoking cessation, for example, are easily accessible through social networks, whilst campaigns in cancer, nosocomial infections, or stroke are not suitable to be lead through this channel.

2.    Are we managing an acute process or a chronic illness?

Social networks work better in communication environments where the disease is a chronic illness. The patient, his family, and caregivers are much more participatory when they know that they have to live with the illness for a long period of time.

3.    What is our target group—doctors or patients?

It’s always easier to drive health communication through social media to patients than to doctors. Doctors’ virtual communities are usually reluctant about direct or suggested presence of pharma companies or their brands.

In conclusion, if your client has sent to you a social network strategy brief regarding a drug treating a serious illness, with acute episodes, focusing the campaign to doctors, you have a hot potato in your hands. Surely it would be better to convince them to focus their effort on other channels. If, on the contrary, you have been briefed on a product indicated in a common chronic process and you have to reach patients, congratulations—social networks might possibly be the best solution.

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