Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Crisis and Renewal April 5, 2010

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about the marital woes of celebs like Tiger Woods and Jesse James. Much of the debate in recent weeks has centered on the men and rehab for their promiscuous ways.

No matter what your personal opinion on sexual addiction (Is it real or just a convenient excuse for bad behavior?), both men are following the time-tested formula of crisis communications.

Admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness and take action to correct the problem.

According to the theory, following this formula results in new-found grace.  Kinda like going to confession and saying your 10 Hail Mary’s as penance.

But does this really work for companies?  It depends.  And it takes time.  Your audience may not be as forgiving as the masses who idolize celebrities in our pop-culture driven society.

Digging Deeper

That’s not to say that the formula won’t work.  Just that renewal is a process. Rebuilding trust takes time.  Companies need to not only admit that there was a problem, but take the time to peel back the layers of the onion to discover the root cause of the problem.  How did the problem start? Why was the problem ignored?  If the problem was reported, and nothing was done, why was this the case?

Beyond “I’m sorry”

Once the source of the problem is identified, corrective action needs to be put in place to ensure the problem does not happen again.  Communicating this to your employees, customers and influencers may be uncomfortable.  Your legal counsel may want to stifle any communication to minimize risk in potential litigation.  But rebuilding a tarnished reputation is much more difficult than building one from scratch. Companies need to be willing to be open and honest in their communication if they want to regain their audience’s trust.

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First things first; the importance of taking one step at a time February 22, 2010

Lisa’s recent entries on the right time to start a direct-to-consumer campaign raise some great points. Since a DTC campaign should include public relations as well as advertising, I thought I’d bring up a few points to consider.

Typically, when an in-house marketing person is talking about doing a DTC campaign, they are thinking on a national scope. But just as it’s true that advertising campaigns are often best started and tested on the local or regional level, so too can—dare I say should—PR be started on a local level.

I was recently in conversations with a prospect. After several months of discussion, the prospect determined they were not ready for “PR.” What he meant by that was that he did not feel the company was ready for a national public relations effort. On one hand, he was smart enough to recognize that the company did not have significant physician adoption of the product, nor did the company have an adequate sales force, or even a well-staffed call center to handle the inquiries that would come from a national campaign. Unfortunately, this company never gave us the chance to show them how the right public relations campaign would have helped them drive both physician adoption and build awareness among potential consumers.

It all starts with building awareness among physicians who will use, prescribe or recommend your product. Many companies do this through trade shows or medical conferences.  Building relationships with trade media is key during this phase of the adoption cycle.

The second step often involves taking a local market approach to supporting physicians who have adopted your product or technology. Picking a physician to be a spokesperson can be tricky if more than one physician is using the product in that market. But the real key to success of this approach is often the patient.  Finding a patient who is willing to share their story publicly and who is articulate enough to do so isn’t always easy.  Still, it’s often the best way to build awareness and the emotional connection that would be completely missed if all we did was pitch a straight product announcement.

Look for more information and some basic rules to follow on selecting the best physician and patient spokespeople in a future entry.

 

 
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