Pharmaceutical communication often faces a healthy dose of scepticism towards the organisation sending out the message. It’s also strictly regulated in most countries. Pfizer is the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company, and is well aware of the restrictions and scepticism.
In a YouTube panel discussion about communication in regulated industries, Ray Kerins (Pfizer Worldwide Communications) puts it this way:
"We can focus on the issues, the problems, on all the critics, or we can stand up and be a part of the conversation, and we've made that commitment. Pfizer has been very public about the issues the industry has caused itself the last decade or so, and the need for greater transparency. Clearly social media rolls right into helping address those issues. As most of you know, we can only go so far [in what we communicate], but that’s not an excuse."
Today, Pfizer is perhaps the most active pharmaceutical company on social networks, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare etcetera.
Pfizer Belgium also wanted to start a social media presence, and went looking for a partner who could create a convincing multichannel social media strategy. Pfizer Belgium asked FINN to shape its entire social media eco system of blogs and social media. Pfizer and FINN quickly decided that the focus of the Pfizer social media strategy should be focussed on building trust (branding).
The scope of the social media plan was ambitious from the outset, because pharmaceutical companies face so many stakeholders: patients, shareholders, regulators, medical professionals, press, potential recruits and thousands of employees – to name but the most important. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the final channel mix, every widely adopted social network (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare,…) makes an appearance.
While many companies feel they need a social media presence, it’s sometimes hard to convince them of the fact that every social media strategy is at heart a content strategy: every conversation needs a starting point. For FINN, that usually means that the social conversation should start from a (long form) content platform like a blog, YouTube or SlideShare. At Pfizer, we found this content driven approach to be already ingrained in the corporate culture: there are already a number of very successful and well maintained international Pfizer blogs.
Since the start of the Pfizer-FINN collaboration on social media, the first online results have appeared, among which:
In 2011, Pfizer Animal Health announced that it would invest 22 million euros in the plant of Louvain-la-Neuve to develop its research activities on emerging diseases. The news was announced in the presence of ministre président Rudy Demotte of the Région Wallonne.
Bart Verlinden is a Pfizer Global Health Fellow who works as a quality analyst in the Pfizer branch in Puurs. In 2011, Bart will work in developing country Malawi for 6 months to start a quality project with NGO Baobab. You can follow his adventures on the Pfizer blog.
Daniel Van Bellinghen, Director Communications Pfizer Belgium:
"Moving from traditional communications to social media took us a lot of reflection and courage: the immediate and accessible nature makes the channel valuable as well as challenging. We needed to take this step as it is the language of a large audience. Fortunately we’ve met FINN!
We’ve closely worked together; FINN quickly understood the challenges of communicating in a pharmaceutical environment. In addition to giving us customized training, they proposed a social media approach that perfectly fits our goal: telling fresh, relevant, accurate and engaging PFIZER stories."
Once every 4 to 6 weeks, FINN sends a newsletter with free PR and social media advice. Of course, we will never give away, rent or sell your e-mail address to third parties. All our e-mail communication includes an unsubscribe link.