Communication models have moved on – so why are parts of the pharmaceuticals industry stuck in the dark ages when it comes to adopting a truly multichannel approach in the pre-launch phase? All that Twitters is not gold, but it isnʼt barred either.
We’ve come a long way since the days of Shakespeare, when the women’s roles were played by men and the audience had to stand up. These days, whether it’s theatre or communications, the stage is open to anyone and the audience doesn’t even have to leave home. All the world’s a stage. So where does the drug industry feature in the global playhouse of multichannel communications? It’s barely reached the end of Act I.
Itʼs fair to say that pharmaʼs view of social media is akin to a sixth-formerʼs reaction to a Shakespearean comedy – thereʼs an uncomfortable bewilderment that everyoneʼs speaking a foreign language. Pharma companies increasingly talk about exploring multichannel but, with the regulators whispering forever in their ears, many fall short of exploiting every channel. Their reluctance to leverage social media is fuelled by the fear that one stray post could, like the ghost of Banquo, return to haunt them. To tweet? Perchance to dream. For many, itʼs just not worth the toil and trouble.
Despite the understandable caution, the development of truly integrated communications strategies is critical to success in a changing environment. As such, fashioning a multichannel approach is high on the agenda of most pharmaceutical companies. “The industry has moved rapidly from the idea that everything needed to be digital to a recognition that digital is just one piece in a multichannel jigsaw,” says Richard Ashdown, Director, Technology & Multichannel Solutions, Caudex (part of McCann Complete Medical). “Thereʼs now widespread understanding that all channels need to be integrated, aligned and coherent – irrespective of whether theyʼre digital or not.”
Pharmaʼs implementation of multichannel has, rather like its defi nition of it, been variable. “Multichannel is widely perceived to focus on post-launch promotional activity, particularly the delivery of messaging to compliment salesforce/HCP interaction,” says Ceri James, Director of Innovation & Product Development at McCann Complete Medical. “But its scope extends well beyond that. Multichannel has a key role to play pre-launch in crucial scientific engagement. This must be optimised.”
Read: The heart of the matter: To tweet or not to tweet - is that still a question? produced in association with McCann Complete Medical