Public Relations: Damage Control - Pharmaceutical Executive


Public Relations: Damage Control
Companies must work together to save pharma's deteriorating image.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Before developing the campaign, marketers must keep two things in mind: First, consumers do recognize, when presented with the facts, that pharma products save and improve lives. This means that on some level, there is a reserve of good feeling that can be tapped, as evidenced by the successful efforts in the early '90s. Second, pharma must realize that most healthcare issues are local—they must be dealt with first on a community level. Communications efforts must be grassroots, and companies must determine how the community operates, what links exist between organizations and institutions, what the community's needs are, who its influencers are, what communications networks already exist and whether others need to be created, and what kinds of messages will be most effective.

In addition, pharma must not overlook the role that the media plays in consumers' lives. The public tends to trust most media outlets, which can be distrustful of Big Pharma, as evidenced by the constant flow of negative articles about the industry. Those media that have access to patients and consumers also understand what a large pharmaceutical industry brings to the table. Helping media understand how pharma positively impacts our lives is paramount in fighting the image war.

Highlighting Strengths

But even a big, powerful industry can't control such a media maze. Instead, it must control its own messages. In the case of Big Pharma, the message is very powerful. Just for starters, here are five salient and powerful story lines that all patients understand. Only Big Pharma can say it has:
1. Researched, developed, and launched the cure for polio and other pandemics.
2. Brought early drugs like AZT and DDI to market for AIDS, and then has used sophisticated computer-based research to explore the possibility that multiple-drug regimens could slow the onset of AIDS for years.
3. Researched and focused on every facet of cardiovascular disease, leading to revolutionary changes in both acute and chronic care.
4. Brought the world major advances in diabetes, ranging from early diagnoses and drug delivery for insulin to lifelong management of the disease.
5. Fostered substantial movement in solving one of the greatest, most-complicated medical mysteries ever to confront mankind—what causes cancer—which has led to partial remissions and cures for certain types of cancer.

Unless pharma defines a compelling story, and defends it vigorously in the consumer marketplace, others will enter that vacuum and tell the story for it— in far less flattering ways. The pharmaceutical industry knows why it spends billions of dollars on product pipelines and research: That investment leads to successful products in the marketplace. One highly successful product can pay for dozens of dead-ends and failures. But the average consumer doesn't understand that. Pharma needs to better explain to consumers how that investment has led to cures or long-term management of the devastating diseases that continue to plague our nation.

Accounts Dittus Communications hired Financial Dynamics as a consultant. //Bellezza Products selected Howard, Merrell & Partners as its agency of record for Hydroxatone. //MEDHOST selected Jetstream Public Relations as its agency of record.

Gianfranco Chicco
People Cari Weisberb will serve as chief marketing and creative officer of Three Bridges, a specialty communications group launched by Flaum Partners. //Palio Communications appointed Eric Rivera as vice president and account director and Stephanie Robbins as account coordinator. //Rob Rogers was promoted to US chief creative officer of Sudler & Hennessey. The company also promoted Joe Garamella, to executive creative director, and hired Kathy Jenkins as brand catalyst, a new position.


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