So asks Marc Monseau, a communications director for Johnson & Johnson, on the company’s brand new blog, JNJ BTW (BTW stands for “By the Way”). J&J made blogging history this past June when it became one of the first pharmaceutical companies to start its own official corporate blog. In the same month, GlaxoSmithKline also inaugurated its blog, alliConnect.
The two blogs are inherently different in both tone and purpose—GSK’s blog , written by a product marketing team, is а branded site devoted primarily to discussions of the company’s over-the-counter weight-control medication, Alii (orlistat). JNJ BTW, whose sole writer is Mr. Monseau, describes itself as a “three-dimensional view” of J&J and promises
Neither blog is expected to dish out juicy industry gossip, corporate intrigue, or anything too revealing, for that matter. canadian antibiotics
“We may not always be able to talk about product-specific issues, news from our operating companies, or issues that fall under regulatory or legal constraints,” writes Mr. Monseau on the J&J blog’s main page.
One recent posting talks about the importance of pets to our health and well-being; another takes a personal look at the computerized approach to childbirth through the writer’s own experience with the birth of his third child. Both GSK and J&J blogs include comments, but only after legal review, thereby delaying real-time interaction and perhaps restricting the scope of conversation.
(“Because we work for a drug company, we do have to abide by a few rules,” GSK’s blog hosts remind their readers.)
The bigger news here is that two of the pharma giants have embraced social media after long speculation raised by other bloggers about if and when the industry would join and who would be first. As discussed in the October 2007 issue of P&T, the health care blogosphere has exploded over the last few years, with blogs becoming the newest way for physicians, patients, and other stakeholders to relate their experiences and share information and insights with others.
But corporate blogs, particularly pharmaceutical blogs, are a different story. As more and more companies—big and small— began experimenting with blogs as inexpensive yet powerful marketing tools, pharma stood quietly on the sidelines, presumably because of the Pandora’s box of legal and regulatory challenges that come with opening a dialogue with consumers.
Until now, that is. Although it is too early to measure the impact of the J&J and GSK blogs in marketing terms, these two companies certainly created some cyberchatter upon entrance into the blogosphere, especially among industry watchers. Not surprisingly, many bloggers were skeptical of these newcomers.
On his blog, Pharmalot, journalist Ed Silverman had this to say about JNJ BTW: 1 nis is unlikely to be a freewheeling aiiair. Katner, its an attempt to put an informal veneer on select messages that J&J wants its employees and the outside world to hear in a very controlled way. No surprise, right? Just one company’s attempt to embrace new media for help in cutting through the clutter and, if necessary, to fight back.
Others, like Fard Johnmar of Healthcare Vox, were a bit more supportive of their fellow bloggers and even offered up helpful blogging advice, such as to read and participate in other pharma and health care blogs and “be unafraid to tackle key, controversial issues of the day—as they are happening.” silagra 100
Not long after its blogging debut, J&J had a chance to act on that advice, although, as it happened, the company itself was at the center of one of these controversies. This past summer, the health care blogs were abuzz about the news that J&J had filed a lawsuit against the American Red Cross over the organization’s use of their shared Red Cross emblem. In the suit, J&J claims that the Red Cross licensed the “red cross” icon to for-profit companies that sell medical products, such as first-aid kits and hand sanitizers, and that this action thus infringed on J&J’s trademark.
“So, I’ve now lived a classic corporate public affairs nightmare: announcing a lawsuit against the American Red Cross,” blogged Ray Jordan, head of public affairs for J&J, filling in for a vacationing Marc Monseau. “Would I have chosen this exercise as a reputation-building opportunity for Johnson & Johnson? No, of course not.”