I caught up with Jim Weiss on the phone. I was on my couch in New Jersey, and Jim was out walking on a windy Bay Area afternoon. “Hope you don’t mind,” he said. “I just really needed to get out for a while.”
How could I mind? I’m writing this five weeks into our experiment with working from home, being on lockdown, social distancing and all the other behaviors we’ve adopted to beat the modern plague of COVID-19. My routine includes an hourly trip to the garage to row or punch a heavy bag. Four minutes every hour to boost my metabolism and clear my head — as best I can — of negative thoughts and frustrations. Then back to the couch.
I had called Weiss, founder and CEO of W2O, to ask a single question: What is it about companies in the medical marketing space that drives them to perform acts of charity? As you can learn from reading our feature on what companies are doing to battle the pandemic, many of them have been donating huge amounts of time, expertise, insights, money and material goods to fight the virus. Klick, based in Toronto, donated 300,000 KN95 masks to hospitals in Ontario as well as 300 intubation boxes to help protect frontline medical workers. AbelsonTaylor and Fingerpaint have conducted insightful surveys into healthcare provider behaviors and needs in these trying times. There are more; we’re keeping a running list on our website.
Weiss and W2O have really risen to the occasion with a four-part integrated plan that involves funding the conversion of sleep apnea machines to ventilators, creating intelligence dashboards, seeding social media accounts and donating money to source, manufacture and transport thousands of face masks and personal protection kits. And Weiss is a trustee of The Commons Project, a nonprofit that has built a COVID-19 tracking tool.
All of which is why I wanted to ask him, of all people, why is it the medical marketing community responds so vigorously in a crisis. “Many of the companies in this field were started and run by doctors and scientists,” he explained. “They’re in it for the patients. It always comes back to the Hippocratic Oath.”
When I mention his charity and that of his competitors, Weiss stops me short. “I don’t view them as competitors,” he says flatly. “We’re all in this together. We have a common enemy and we have to focus on it. We all have the same goal in mind. Never before have we had such a common ‘why’ as we have now.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a question answered so succinctly, or so clearly. We’re all in this together. You might feel alone on your couch. But you’re not. Remember that. And be glad you work in a field that cares. I know I am.