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.