September 12th, 2007

More Than Just Gossip…

Dominic Tyer at Pharmafocus recently said the following in an article about health blogs:

Blogs have more to offer than just a home for pharma gossip

Well, I should hope so!

In this article Dominic raises some interesting points about corporate blogging, including the challenges of working in a regulated environment and the way bloggers are breaking real news.

It was nice to see that JNJBTW was mentioned, but there were a few things in the article that didn’t seem quite right. For instance, according to Dominic, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson launched

… pharma’s first official blogs within days of each other, with low-cut, viral marketing strategies designed to appeal directly to the blogosphere.

Ok. Though I bristle when Johnson & Johnson is described as a “pharma” company (Johnson & Johnson’s operating companies also sell medical devices, diagnostics and consumer products — pharmaceuticals are just one part of the business) I have heard people make that mistake before. However, I wasn’t aware that I had used a “viral marketing strategy” to let people know about JNJBTW.

He went on to say that

The JnJ site covers a wider range of topics and has a single lead author taken from within the company’s media relations team, which may give it the edge when it comes to developing a unique voice.

Hmmm… Bill Price, who sits just a few doors down from me, made his first post a couple of weeks ago and we hope to be joined by a few others — but I do get Dominic’s point about developing an authentic voice. That’s important.

But the following point really jarred:

This highlights the challenge companies face in the blogosphere. There is no control over the message and the message can be read and added to by anyone. This presents a tricky issue for pharma when it comes to corporate PR and there are no easy answers.

I think I get what Dominic is trying to say, but I don’t agree. Lack of control isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, without an intermediary in “control” of the message, mistakes or misperceptions can be self-corrected in the blogosphere as the facts are laid out, added to and disseminated by others.

Through JNJ BTW I’m trying to provide a bit more insight into what Johnson & Johnson is doing and why, occasionally adding my thoughts about the news of the day or other trends. This isn’t about control — it’s about having a voice in the conversation. As I mentioned in a previous post, public relations should be about “truth well told” . By adding perspective, context and details whenever possible, in the end “truth will out” in the blogosphere.

6 Responses to “More Than Just Gossip…”

  1. Marc says


    Thanks. I do have my moments… : )

    Anyway, it’s kinda what I’ve been talking about for a while. I’ve seen how misperceptions have been “self-corrected” and find it fascinating.

  2. Mark says

    I found it interesting that Johnson & Johnson was called a “pharma company.” As part of it’s R&D division, I find it amusing when I tell people of the innovative work going on in our pharma R&D labs and THEY are surprised we are more than just Baby Powder and Band-Aids. Sometimes it feels like we in pharma R&D are paddling against the tide…

  3. AmyT says

    Hmmm, products… Yes, what about PRODUCTS? If you can’t talk about them here, how do readers get “a three-dimensional view of J&J”? Just curious.

  4. Jim says

    I’m glad to see Jack Friday’s posting of the stent controversy in his comment. Am I the only one in J&J who sees how absurd this arguement was? If that argument was allowed in court and was able to win the case, there would be nothing like a compeditor being able to publicly say “The J&J product is inferior as documented in a court of law by the company’s own admission.” The J&J market share would drop to 0 in no time! Talk about losing the war for the sake of winning a single battle.

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