to qualify as an AE needing reporting. That is 0.2 percent. The                          2. Expect sports-fan behavior
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Strategies 3.10


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Strategies 3.10

  1. 1. Strategies Health Practice n e w s l e t t e r Published by Makovsky + Company Volume 24/Number 2 For more information on Makovsky + Company’s Health practice, please visit the power of specialized thinking Communicating in the Age of Twitter Welcome to the World of 140-Character Conversations A man walks into a room and comments ny communication departments aside. Patients in need will soon cease to tolerate on a secret that was just shared among an industry pretending social media the group in the room. One woman says, FDA held a hearing on social media use in doesn’t exist. So how do we reconcile “How do you know that? No one’s left this the pharmaceutical and biotech worlds in patient desires and lack of FDA parameters? room.” The response: “It’s all over Twitter.” November 2009, and accepted public com- and the Twitter hash tag (a ment on social media use through Febru- tool enabling easy searching by topic on Social networking is changing the way and ary 28, 2010. Timing on guidance could be Twitter) #FDASM document industry’s frequency in which people share and hunt in late 2010. In the meantime, FDA is not desire to receive clear guidance. Further, for information, especially health and in- under any legal obligation to issue a rule in the growing number of pharmaceutical vestor news. The Food and Drug Adminis- a specific time period. Much of the public and biotechnology company or brand tration (FDA) has not offered a social media forum meeting focused on where FDA has blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook roadmap for pharmaceutical and biotech- already taken the most action online— fan pages show willingness to engage in nology companies; however it uses sites advertising. The Agency determined it will patient conversations. like Twitter (@FDA_Drug_Info or @FDAre- act if online advertising does not demon- calls are two active accounts) to commu- strate clear fair balance. All the same, one- Along with fair balance, another major nicate actively with the general public and dimensional advertising is peripheral to challenge to healthcare social media entry media. Even breaking news reporters from the conversational power of social media is adverse event (AE) reporting. However, it CNBC and comment that FDA and unable to facilitate immediate dia- may be only a small hurdle. Looking at 500 is first to the keyboard on breaking prod- logue on disease and treatment options Yahoo Health boards, Nielsen found only uct approval news, often pushing compa- like interconnective social media. one post contained enough information
  2. 2. to qualify as an AE needing reporting. That is 0.2 percent. The 2. Expect sports-fan behavior study showed one or two needed criteria was typically available Sports fans are passionate about their teams, but emotions ex- but not all four required for a reportable adverse event. pressed are not always positive. You (and your medical, regula- tory and legal colleagues) will need to accept that even pa- New tools enable return to authentic conversations tients who love your product will complain about you—just as Unless you are speaking to bloggers or reporters through social sports fans love their team but complain about management, media, there is generally no filter. Many biopharma companies coaching or individual players. That’s okay. Social media allows are now taking the plunge and tweeting news and thoughts— real-time dialogue, not a lecture. Sometimes stand aside and Johnson & Johnson, sanofi-aventis and Boehringer Ingelheim are let it pass. among the early social media front runners. 3. Know when to step in and out For patients with “joiner” conditions (i.e., patients with diseases Listen to the advice of the community. When they want to be that seek others dealing with the same disease state such a breast just patients, let them be. When they want the community sup- cancer or rare disorders like Scleroderma), social media paves a port, join in. By developing a conversation through social me- way for patients to engage each other, swap stories and ask for dia, you are building relationships. Patients will let you know trusted peer advice. Today, it’s not just providing treatment, but when they want your advice and help. an avenue for dialogue and perhaps even linking patients to a new community. 4. Disclose your identity Never pretend, or allow your vendors or partners to pretend For “rebellious” conditions (i.e., patients with diseases requiring that they are anyone other than themselves. In the age of citi- lifestyle changes to avoid developing the disease such as COPD), zen journalism, everyone is doing their due diligence to gather social media is more than a compliance tool. These patients may background, and those that aren’t transparent will pay dearly not be interested initially in complying with physician direction, for their perceived dishonesty. medication use or joining a community. They may be looking for information on making treatment more convenient and under- 5. Provide value standing their disease state. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology You have valuable assets such as study data and information companies can provide information and answer questions—or at on drug management and side effects, sought and valued by the very least, redirect this audience to sources that “speak their patients. Share the information and answer questions that language.” If a patient wants to engage in a dialogue, social media mainstream media will not delve into. Don’t eavesdrop and try sets the stage. to gather market data; give patients and HCPs reasons to en- gage in discussion. Your insights, if disclosed in the right way Top Social Media Tips For PR Professionals to the right people, can be a calling card separating you from 1. Start early others in your industry. Begin by conducting social media audits on the category and on the brand, if the product is on the market or trial data has Brand and corporate communication in the Twitter Age is pos- been presented. Finding out customer preconceptions enables sible! Now there’s an open line to patients whose lives you seek to companies to address needs and develop messaging to meet improve and shareholders curious about their investment. This is patients’ and healthcare providers’ (HCPs) informational desires. a giant leap forward in public relations benefiting patients, HCPs, It also enables executives to identify key influencers in the en- science and industry. Masters of stakeholder response can see vironment who seek to engage and reengage. If your product the fruits of their efforts real-time, and the conversations are hap- has not been launched, begin joining communities now—in pening with or without your voice. In the world of healthcare many patient communities, they’re already discussing your conversations, it’s the death of one-way dialogue and the birth of product (and possibly its price or potential side effects). true dialogue. About Makovsky + Company Founded in 1979, Makovsky + Company ( is today one of the nation’s leading independent global public relations and investor relations consultancies. The firm attributes its success to its original vision: that the Power of Specialized Thinking™ is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for a client. Based in New York City, the firm has agency partners in more than 27 countries and in 35 U.S. cities through IPREX, the second largest worldwide public relations agency partnership, of which Makovsky is a founder. Contact: 1 6 E A S T 3 4 T H S T R E E T, N E W Y O R K , N Y 1 0 0 1 6 Gil Bashe, APR, Executive Vice President T: 212.508.9600 F: 212.751.9710 212.508.9672 • Pantone 5405 C Pantone 604 C W W W . M A K O V S K Y. C O M Kristie Kuhl, JD, Senior Vice President Stevie Awards 2009 PR Agency of the Year 212.508.9642 • Holmes Report 2009 Multispecialist Agency of the Year NOTE: The yellow in this logo has been changed to PMS 604 C specifically for the