Dec18

The Value of a PURL

Value of a PURL blogIMAGENo two pearls are alike—and neither are two PURLs. You may have heard this homophone for the popular gemstone in reference to digital marketing campaigns. The acronym refers to “personalized URLs,” or unique web addresses. The concept is relatively simple (at least in comparison to its execution): each target has an exclusive code attached to a link in an email they receive (or the banner they view, etc.). The degree to which this personalization is carried through to the website varies—from entirely unique landing pages, to custom-populated portions of the website (such as displaying the target’s name on the page), to all targets viewing the same exact page, and the codes being used only for backend tracking purposes.

The value of a pearl is determined by several factors: type, rarity, size, shape, color, etc. The value of a PURL is also multifaceted. The first, and perhaps most obvious value (at least to someone in marketing analytics), is that PURLs enable detailed tracking of an individual. Websites, with the help of reporting suites such as Omniture, record activity against each unique code. This tracking then enables a view of each target’s path and interactions on-site. Additional value is obtained when this information is collected on a personal level, and then used to customize further engagement. For example, if a target explores a certain area of a website, the next email to that target can reference this action and/or include further information on this topic. This engagement customization then translates into a third added value: the use of PURLs typically increases response rates. Not surprisingly, targets are more likely to click on a link when it is personally relevant.

The history of pearls in society as a valued possession is long and storied. In ancient times, pearls were rare and highly valued (as the legend of Cleopatra and her pearls implies). In more recent history, the value of pearls has diminished greatly due to the availability of cultured pearls. However, the value of PURLs is only increasing in marketing, and is becoming the cost of entry for a truly effective campaign.

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Nov6

Are You Listening?

8370148From predictive sentiment analysis and word association to audience profiling and message personalization, social listening techniques are helping healthcare marketers translate everyday conversations into brand positioning strategies, outreach programs, and relevant online content.

With the exponential growth in social sharing and social media, we posed the question, “Are You Listening” to the healthcare industry during a recent panel discussion on social listening at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide’s 3rd Annual Marketing Analytics & Consulting Summit. The reaction to the discussion during the summit was incredible, as attendees bombarded our panelists with questions, which made for a lively discussion.

Joining our expert panel discussion were several contributors: Ryan Alovis, InTouchMD, Karen Auteri, IMS Health, Michele Baer, Feinstein Kean Healthcare, Kim-Fredrick Schneider, Sermo, and our very own Angelo Campano, Ogilvy Healthworld.

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Attendees learned multiple perspectives from our expert panelists. First, social listening provides marketers with a reality check for what patients and physicians are discussing in terms of disease states, available drugs, and lifestyle considerations. Second, attendees learned that many of the techniques employed have been shown to help marketers manage and respond to adverse events and reposition web content to deliver more meaningful messages to audiences they are trying to reach and educate.

Our Approach

Making sense of social conversations as related to branded and unbranded messages, and disease states, is central to capturing emerging patient and physician trends around sentiment, preference, and message personalization. In the Analytics department at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, we believe social listening needs to be a dynamic discipline that is “always on” and can be configured to leverage our sophisticated network of algorithms to aggregate unstructured conversations, and glean meaningful insights related to the way patients and physicians are talking about our clients’ products.

Natural Language Processing (NPL) and text mining machine learning algorithms are used to extract dominant concepts across posts, tweets, text messages, and call center conversations. We create a dictionary of terms with the highest frequency across messages, which is also known as a term document matrix. Correlation analyses are run across the document matrix to isolate the top 100 concepts and messages. This concept investigation is done through splitting the data into a training dataset and a test dataset (usually a 70/30 split, respectively). We then apply decision trees and neural networks to learn from our sample training data on how the text in each comment is configured to help derive classification rules on sentiment (positive or negative). Once classification rules are set, our rules are then deployed for overall monthly scoring of brand sentiment.

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We can help our clients understand questions such as:

  • What are HCP and patient sentiments about the brand?
  • What are the terms and attributes HCPs and patients are using to refer to our ailment state or specific brand?
  • What are HCPs and patients saying about competitor brands?
  • How can we proactively manage adverse events reporting?

Notable Applications

With limited social buzz, a cancer drug maker found that their brand’s category was mostly associated with terms like LDK-378, crizotinib and maintenance terms. The brand itself was strongly associated with terms like Tarceva and ALK, but social listening allowed the brand to identify opportunities within the category to purchase tertiary or long-tail terms to optimize search.

In addition to finding ways to optimize search, we were able to identify three different types of back pain sufferers through social listening. From over 115,000 local EU market conversations, we were able to identify pre-concerned, seekers, and diagnosed back pain sufferers. This learning enabled our marketing plan to amplify key brand messages at the right moment, in the right space, and at the right time that was most relevant to when each audience was most likely to respond.

Offering Many Benefits

Through understanding and evaluating the reality of how patients and physicians are talking about disease states, branded or unbranded products, we’ve reshaped website content, fine-tuned campaign messages, optimized SEO, and considered new targeting pathways. Our processes will continue to evolve to help drug manufacturers become more relevant in meeting physician information and patient care needs.

If you’re not listening, our Analytics group at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide can help get you started.

 

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Oct14

Learning From a Physician First Hand

Kareem Blog ImageMy name is Kareem Royes and I just completed my first year in medical school. I’ve had the opportunity to return to OCHWW Planning this past summer. Over the past year, I have worked very closely with different physicians in the hospital setting, which has allowed me to gather some new insights that I am happy to share about one of OCHWW’s biggest customers, the healthcare professional (HCP). These insights can drive tactics that will not only improve our customers’ experience, but also maximize our clients’ ROI.

Insight 1: Physicians have an inherent distrust of sale reps

One key insight medical planners and marketers frequently do not consider is that physicians have distrust for the information provided to them by drug sales reps. HCPs do not think sales reps have the medical education and years of clinical practice to tell them how to use a drug. Physicians almost unanimously prefer to obtain information from other physicians who are experts and researchers in the therapeutic area of interest. As such, there is a tremendous opportunity to improve our clients’ penetration into these practices by leveraging more physician experts, also known as “thought leaders” or “key opinion leaders,” to provide detail through webinars to physicians who are not open to speaking with sales reps.

Insight 2: The whole is more important than the individual part

We are currently in the era of using apps to enhance our day-to-day experience and interactions. This is no different for HCPs, most of whom also use smart devices. In tactical planning, we often pitch ideas around creating apps that educate physicians about a drug, or a disease, or help them follow up with care for a patient with only one disease. The flip side to this is that on average, each physician will have 2,000 patients in his or her practice and will treat over a 100 diseases. Therefore, our challenge is to convince physicians that using an app that is niched to provide care for only one disease or patient will add value to their experience. Again there is a tremendous opportunity for agencies to work with their clients to create apps that provide a more holistic experience for the physician. Physicians are more likely to engage and frequently use an app if it will cover multiple therapeutic areas and drugs, or can accommodate a significant portion of the patients in their practice.

Insights 3: Always vow to do no harm

The healthcare industry is currently transitioning to the use of electronic medical records (EMRs). The ultimate goal is to increase proper recordkeeping, increase the efficiency of the healthcare system, and facilitate physicians’ communicating better within different specialties when caring for patients. One of the frequent asks we get from our clients is, how can we penetrate EMRs to keep our products top of mind for physicians? Well there is no simple answer to this question. The technology is relatively new but it has a lot of potential to keep our clients’ brands top of mind. Opportunities exist to provide “pop-up” alerts about a drug when certain information is entered into the EMR. This can certainly help keep our clients’ drugs top of mind when a physician is filling out a patient’s chart. However, because physicians sometimes consider EMRs to be burdensome to their practice, agencies’ penetration into this space should be seamless, without adding any burden to physician practices.

Recently I was able to integrate these findings into the brand plan for a drug in the oncology space. Our client tasked us with developing three big ideas that would drive their business, considering a strong competitive landscape with increases in the barriers to accessing physicians. To address this, we proposed:

  1. Physician expert videos that could be leveraged on the drug website and on a YouTube channel where physicians could learn from experts about the drug. This allows physicians to hear from experts on their own time without adding significant burden to their workday.
  2. Leveraging EMR alerts to inform drug sales rep when a doctor has a new patient. This allows reps to detail physicians about drugs when it is immediately relevant in practices that are amenable to rep visits.
  3. And finally, to help differentiate the drug from its competitor, we proposed an unbranded platform which leverages the use of an app to provide all the relevant information about treating the cancer and all the drugs available for this cancer. This provides a more robust app that physicians are more likely to engage with and use repeatedly.

Overall our ideas were well received, and we are currently in the processing of fine-tuning the ideas to determine feasibility for next year. Stay tuned!

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Sep23

Access to High-Cost Medications: A Balancing Act

UKBlogImageSmallAs continuing innovation moves us further toward personalized healthcare and the development of targeted treatments, how can patients across Europe ensure they have fair access to high-cost medications?

Securing reimbursement remains one of the biggest challenges to delivering market access for new treatments. The debate around balancing tight health budgets with fair access for patients is shaping the way governments and payers respond to these advancements. Cancer treatments are a specific concern, especially those designed to target rare and aggressive cancers, and as such have a particularly high development cost per patient.

So what’s the way forward?

This was the question posed by the Ogilvy Healthworld UK Market Access team earlier this summer when we brought together a panel of leading experts in front of an audience of industry figures, academics and patient representatives.

The panelists discussed the issue from the viewpoint of each of the 4P’s of healthcare—payers, prescribers, policymakers and patients—to chart out the future course of reimbursement.

What was the outcome?

After a far-ranging debate, five key ideas stood out as important for taking the conversation on the introduction of high-cost medicine ahead:

1. While schemes like the UK Cancer Drugs Fund have been a success, they may prove unsustainable in the long term. New systems to assess and support the uptake of new treatments must be a national priority.

2. Three key areas that will affect the cost of medication over the next decade are:

– Technological development; as new innovations make treatments more expensive, not cheaper

– How care is delivered; and potential cost-savings that can be made in reforming healthcare systems

– Whether health systems can reform the way that healthcare is funded to support uptake of new technology

3. New treatments will not necessarily lead to cost-efficiencies, but rather higher costs for payers. This means that demand and pricing must be controlled to maintain a healthy balance between supporting innovation and ensuring access to new medicines for patients.

4. Current value assessments are too narrow and need to be reformed to better reflect their full value. As newer medicines that raise costs are developed, a more complex assessment model will be necessary to ensure that their total cost/ benefit to the healthcare system can be successfully mapped.

5. If payers are to be able to afford new high-cost medicines, cost-efficiencies must be found in the delivery of services. Although healthcare systems should remain a center of healthcare delivery across Europe, it was agreed that the way they operate must fundamentally change to provide care in the most effective way possible. This should be focused on reducing hospital visits and supporting “community-based care” systems.

 

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Sep11

Are Apple’s new offerings really ready for healthcare?

RPBLOGApple fans were waiting with bated breath for this week. And in usual Apple style, the company did not disappoint the vast numbers of people who eagerly sat through a staged presentation of the new products Apple will be foisting upon us in the next six months.

The new iPhone 6 is a sleeker, stylish phone with a bigger screen, a plethora of new groundbreaking apps such as Apple Pay, and powerful technology that could make the phone even more personal than it is now.

And as if that were not enough, Apple provided a double-whammy by showcasing the new Apple Watch, a truly innovative and stylish mini device that will change the simple task of telling the time.

With these two new devices, Apple also began to stake a claim in the health and wellness arena.

Let’s take the phone. It comes bearing the next generation of Apple’s powerful M chip—the M8. This chip enables Apple to turn the iPhone into a fitness tracker. The next generation motion coprocessor and sensor will know whether you’re riding a bike, running, or speed walking. It will also be able to estimate distance as well as how far you’ve gone. Finally, it will track elevation, thanks to its very own barometer, which will pick out your relative elevation by measuring air pressure.

All of this data will be collected by the new HealthKit app with powerful and intuitive dashboards and displays to help the owners of the device to begin tracking and analyzing all manner of activities.

The Apple Watch enters a largely unregulated personal health tracker business, taking on Fitbit, Jawbone, and other wearable devices. This is a powerful device. It is a pedometer, a heart-rate monitor, and it comes with a robust array of fitness tracking features, including “rings” to track your movement.

The Move ring will track your normal amount of activity, such as walking. The Exercise ring will track all manner of exercise routines, and the Stand ring will measure how long you stand or sit during the day.

But the watch also becomes your personal coach and will give you customized reminders to reach fitness goals. It will have its own Workout app, which will measure calories, time spent working up a sweat, and a variety of other activities. Finally, it will also gently nag or encourage you toward doing things more slowly than you planned. All of this will be shared with the HealthKit app.

Apple plans to offer a sports version of the watch, which comes with an alloy case that’s 60 percent stronger than the regular version.

The Apple Watch looks like it will become a serious contender in the fitness tracking market, but the steep pricing may make other fitness trackers more appealing to people.

From a regulatory perspective, the Apple Watch, while not being deemed a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be watched closely. The personal health data collected by individuals for their own use is outside the federal laws controlling the use of patient information.

This collection of data opens up a debate on privacy, and as this is health-related data, there will be extra scrutiny on how this data is collected and used, and more importantly, who has access to it.

However, the Feds are closely watching this fast-growing market. The FDA has already issued a list of mobile applications it is watching closely. The list includes software used by individuals to track and log personal data on exercise, food consumption and sleep patterns, and to make suggestions about health and wellness.

The major issue for privacy advocates will be how this personal data is used by the device makers and developers of apps. How marketing uses this data for profiling and targeting will become a place for regulators to identify safeguards.

Apple is also doing its bit and has made it clear to developers of health apps that it wants to protect privacy. This comes on the heels of the broadly covered celebrity hacking debacle that occurred a few weeks ago, opening up a debate about the collection and backup of data from mobile devices that synchronize with the cloud.

Last week, Apple updated its guidelines for health app developers, stating that apps working with HealthKit may not use the personal data gathered for advertising or data-mining uses other than for helping manage an individual’s health and fitness, or for medical research.

The guidelines also say that app developers cannot share data with third parties without the user’s consent.

It will be interesting to see how the FDA, as well as privacy bodies in the more stringent and regulated environments in Europe, deal with the brave new world that Apple is forging for us.

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Sep3

Print is Dead.

PrintDeadImageI have spent a better part of my career dedicated to print production, and I hear this phrase all of the time.

I love print, and on the rare occasion that I receive a piece that was traditionally printed, I want to feel the surface textures, smell the fresh ink, and I want to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into producing it.

It saddens me that my daughter will never experience the joy and anticipation of turning the pages of the Sears Christmas Wishbook, that she has no idea what the Yellow Pages are, and that we do not refer to the Encyclopedia Britannica to help finish her homework.

However, she does get to make an Amazon wish list, find things much more quickly with Google, and can always refer to Wikipedia to help finish her homework.

I wonder, am I alone when I say I occasionally miss receiving a greeting card in the mail? Will social media be the only way we send well-wishes in the future? With the current cost of a greeting card averaging $3, I would venture to say yes.

Recently, Restoration Hardware took a risk and shipped 13 different “source books” to their customers. Was this a throwback-attempt at marketing? Comments flew on social media on whether or not their print efforts were appreciated by the consumer.

Nevertheless, as much time as we spend on our computers, phones and tablets, think about how much paper you still see in your day. Granted it has been reduced, but we still rely on it.

A great package design or a cool sign display in a store can always catch your eye in a way digital cannot. Print can also be used as a tool to drive consumers to their computers or mobile devices for more information, or to make a purchase.

In a business meeting it’s nice to have something to touch, flip through or take away. These printed materials are physical reminders and serve as visual cues, while also acting as a gateway into the digital world.

On the flip side, the world of print has not been killed by digital, but enhanced by it. In the past we used to manufacture print jobs with special attention to color, paper texture and intensity. Now, because most print pieces have such a short shelf life, and we have such short delivery times, we rely on the swiftness and cost-effectiveness of digital printing. The quality of digital printing has grown substantially over the years, and any average person would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a traditional and a digital printed piece.

So, even though I have dedicated much of my career to print, I am not worried. Because just like me, print is not dead…it is evolving.

 

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Jul16

“It’s not a tumor!” Cyberchondria and the Diagnoses That Spawn From It

2287994It’s 7 am; I’ve just awoken. My eyes are adjusting and I’m sprawled in my bed. My mind is not coordinated enough to move my body. Man, I am exhausted, I think. How is it only Thursday? My head kinda hurts. Good God I have to pee. I could probably snooze for like fifteen more minutes, if I shower quickly. Seriously, my head hurts. Right in my left temple. I must have slept wrong. I don’t remember hitting my head or anything. I sit up abruptly. Oh Lord now I’m dizzy. I’m dizzy and I have a sharp pain in my temple. Holy crap what if it’s a tumor, or an aneurism. When I did those brain cancer interviews last year they all said they woke up with headaches. This is that exact same situation. Where’s my iPhone? How do you spell meningioma, two “n”s? No, one “n.” Thanks Google. Okay WebMD…signs and symptoms…yup, here it is. Headache: check. Dizziness: check. Weakness in arms and legs: now that you mention it, I can barely hold this phone it feels so heavy. Blurred vision: that one’s probably next. Yup. It’s definitely a meningioma. I should call my dad. Just tell him I love him.

But just as Arnold said, it’s not a tumor. And while that example might be a tad exaggerated, I’ve certainly had this type of half-awake, neurotic, cyberchondria once or twice in my life. Though the above situation was more likely caused by one too many glasses of wine and a refusal to admit to a hangover.

Nevertheless, the concept of self-diagnosis is an ever-growing phenomenon in this digital age. According to a survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, over 35% of Americans in 2012 had gone online to diagnose themselves, and more than a third never confirmed that diagnosis with a doctor. What’s worse: some 30% of self-diagnosed women have admitted to purchasing and consuming medication for their supposed illness, without a consultation. That’s the part that shocks me. Sure, I might convince myself I have a pet-dander allergy, but that does not mean I trust my diagnostic abilities enough to assault my leg up with an EpiPen.

But it does happen. And those working in the healthcare industry appear to be the worst culprits—after all, we live and breathe this stuff; it shouldn’t be hard to tell if we have chronic migraines, or insomnia, or endocarditis, right? Our increased level of knowledge mixed with a splash of arrogance is just enough to convince us that there is little a PCP’s gonna tell us that we don’t already know.

And while the hyperbolic, often terminal, self-diagnoses are more my style, physicians say they are more concerned with the prevalence of under-diagnosis among systematic Googlers—as we all know, convincing oneself that a rash is just a rash, or numbness is just an innocent side effect can have irreparable effects.

Now, I’m a huge proponent of self-education and using today’s technology to our advantage—in fact, I think it sparks productive dialogue when information is brought into the doctor’s office—but as cliché as it sounds, I cannot emphasize enough the need for a professional diagnostic assessment. Trust me; the $15 copay is worth it.

Think of it this way: your doctor is your agency of record, but for some reason, you’ve decided to do your own brand website, aka diagnosis. We all know from AOR experience that your doctor is going to take one look at that diagnosis and say, “Damn, this is a mess; I wish they’d just paid me to do it.”

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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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