Can rising PR stars save Big Pharma's credibility?

They can in more ways than you might imagine, especially if they conjure the real purpose of PR and not the “spin” that contributed to the problem. Or as Albert Einstein observed: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”

Credibility and trust demand that publicized values be found in operating decisions. It's that simple and it's that difficult. Up-and-coming PR counselors have a great opportunity to keep the industry's operations gyroscopically aligned with its values and its customers. If they do, the icon reputation this industry once enjoyed could return.

In my opinion, the real problem isn't overt greed or intentional deceit. It's a misplaced premium on quarterly profits when the paramount concern should be greater alignment with customers. It is a false dilemma that fiduciary responsibility and customer alignment are mutually exclusive. C-suites benefit from PR counsel that effectively represents customer interest, primarily because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is in the enlightened long-term interest of CEOs and shareholders.

Some companies have the right ideas and are making progress, but others aren't.  What are the most common pitfalls?
  • Engaging in corporate-speak
  • Subordinating PR counsel in the C-suite and exec committees
  • Overemphasizing the need for speed of market penetration
  • Preferring self-serving relationships with organized medicine
  • Inadequately resourcing reputation management efforts
  • Pricing insensitivity that challenges cost/benefit analyses
  • Marketing practices that fundamentally and philosophically rile customers
  • Allowing negative perceptions to persist, thereby appearing recalcitrant
What can young PR counselors do to fix the problem?
  • Create a net social benefit that is clearly visible
  • Engage in social media by listening and being responsive, but always in a trustworthy, transparent, and relevant manner
  • Put patients at the center of your company's thinking
  • Stimulate the values and vision of employees
  • Earnestly communicate with, renegotiate terms with disengaged or hostile audiences
  • Constantly rejuvenate your company's brand reputation.

Greg Baird is president and CEO, Wholepoint
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