PR View by Ilyssa Levins

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Why should marketers allocate more help-seeking DTC spending to PR?

DTC PR boosts the ROI of disease-awareness advertising with minimal investment.  A $4 million to $6 million PR campaign delivers a significant level of disease-state media relations and educational events in partnership with advocacy groups, complete with direct response mechanisms such as Web  site address, toll-free phone number and PO Box. That's a drop in the proverbial bucket for a DTC advertising budget.

DTC PR cost helps build patient databases by delivering messages that are more convincing than DTCA, because independent sources (media and third-party organizations) are believed and trusted by consumers.

PR can also deliver disease-state messages more effectively to multicultural populations, which often do not receive medical information through traditional channels but rather from clergy and other community-based sources.

PR drives people into databases, where questions are asked, information is dispatched and names are captured. At some point in the dialogue, an opt-in query is made, and upon receiving the patient's consent, the company has the chance to communicate its product messages.

Now for the bonus points. PR helps sister media improve the bottom line and patients' lives. Research shows that knowledge about disease states and therapeutic options is a critical component of patient-centered healthcare practices. Highly involved patients are more adherent to treatment regimens, increasing drug utilization and patient outcomes.

In addition, PR can help promote the strong evidence of pharma's commitment to the public good at a time when the industry's reputation is at an all-time low and media skepticism at an all-time high.

Ilyssa Levins is president of HCIL Consulting

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