What pharma doesn’t need: better ways to say ‘no’

There were many great insights shared at the cluster of social health conferences in Berlin in March, and on the one hand it seems overly reductive to pick on a single recurring theme.

On the other hand, that’s what blogs do, so reductive I must be. However, if you would like to review the tweet archives (PDF) I collated for these events you’ll find them here and here for eyeforpharma, here for ExL and here for #hcsmeucamp

One of the themes that was gradually amplified through the month was the fact that we no longer believe pharma when it says ‘we’d love to engage with you, HCPs and patients, but our hands are tied’.

If this sounds provocative, it is intended to be.

However, you will find that a goodly number of the 600 or so folk who attended these events also think that it is defensible, and many have returned to their organizations determined to call out the nay-sayers.

They are determined to challenge the assertion that insurmountable obstacles lay on the road to engagement for pharma.

They will declaim that for the most part these impediments are illusory, and that those are real are often of pharma’s own creation.

They deserve your help.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Call your reluctant colleagues and clients out on the phantasms that are issues for them, but rather less so in reality – by which I means do a real needs assessment based on their fear of regulatory constraints (which even the regulators don’t agree with); ROI (which needs to be redefined as impact/impuse/inclusion/involvement or (as a negative measure) ignoring); AER (1 in 500 in the USA; <1 per month per company in the EU). Talk the group’s concerns to death. Make the problem go away – if only for this team. Turn them into advocates, internally.
  • Following on from this: stress the importance of getting legal and regulatory into the conversation at the planning stage. There’s no point in bemoaning getting your project knocked back at the end when the people who occlude your progress should have been involved from the very earliest stages. It’s their job to say no. Help them find ways of being able to say ‘yes’.
  • Spotlight these conversations within the context of the question ‘when is it a good time to drop from a rising balloon?’ It is never going to look like a good time to let go, but then there is never going to be like a good time to let go… so just get on with it. Calm fears with the legions of examples of the benefit to early entrant adopters in just about any vertical you care to choose in terms of visibility, buzz, conversation and so on.
  • Most of the mistakes that are going to be made using the platforms available have already been made. There are many great tools and how-tos out there to help you on your way. Get your governance in place, get an escalation strategy sorted, understand how social media sits within the context of your wider strategic plan across the element of your business that you are responsible for, get your immediate manager’s buy in, and press the Big Green Go Button.

Keep listening, keep learning, but start acting. We’re all in this together.

One thought on “What pharma doesn’t need: better ways to say ‘no’

  1. Pingback: Winning awards with pharma campaigns, but winning minds for pharma? « STweM

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