PR View by Julia Hood

Share this article:
Pharma companies are not the friendliest to the media. At PRWeek, we encountered an exception recently, when Bristol-Myers Squibb invited our new healthcare reporter on a media tour of the company's new oncology facilities, along with reporters from major business dailies and weeklies. It included a Q&A with the company's R&D leadership about what's in the pipeline, and finished with a presentation by cancer survivor Sharon Blynn.

This event offered a level of transparency and collaboration that is sadly lacking in much of the pharmaceutical world, as it relates to the media that covers it. Certainly companies have reason to be wary. With a general public that equates big pharma with big tobacco and other reviled sectors, it is no wonder that companies are skittish about opening up. But modeling a media relations effort on paranoia and secretiveness is not a way to engender the kind of trust needed to turn those negative perceptions around.

None of this is news. But as bad as it has been, it's going to get worse as consumers demand more info, and increasingly get it from other sources. By now, everybody (or at least, everybody “hip” and “with it”) has seen the YouTube sensation created by combining Mentos and Diet Coke. Imagine what would happen if someone decided to conduct a drug trial video online? This scenario is far from remote, and may already be happening.

Pharma companies need to cultivate active and transparent relationships with the media, and not just when things are good. Consumers are looking for information they can trust. The media is an important channel that is too often choked off at the source. Don't like what that reporter wrote? Consider the alternative. Media relations must play a strategic role in the marketing mix, before consumers turn away from traditional sources entirely.

Julia Hood is editor in chief of PRWeek

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Email Newsletters

MM&M Future Leaders


Register now

Early bird $1,950 before 31 October 2014

*Group discounts available on request 

MM&M EBOOK: PATIENT ACCESS

Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Channel

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Monday, September 15

Five things for pharma marketers to know: ...

Pharma has sought 76 meetings with FDA over biosimilars; Gilead licenses Sovaldi to India generic drugmakers; Pfizer and Ranbaxy Lipitor lawsuit dismissed.

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Why Novo Nordisk is choosing not to leverage Victoza's brand equity as it seeks a weight-loss indication for liraglutide.

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, September 12

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, ...

An FDA panel voted in favor of liraglutide for weight loss; Allergan investors backing an attempted takeover of the firm crossed a critical threshold; and 100 million health wearables are ...