Eye for pharma – a social media diagnostic coming to Toronto

When we created energi PR, we brought together the leadership and expertise from two successful agencies, as well as a roster of great clients. And one of the benefits for me was that in addition to consumer and corporate, we now had a healthcare practice.  Anyone who’s worked in that sector understands its complexities and how different it is from consumer PR.

Add social media to the mix and there are even more hurdles and yes, many opportunities too.  Patients are sharing resources on research and treatments, asking questions and voicing concerns, bloggers are presenting their perspective, communities of interest are forming. And pharma/healthcare organizations are looking for an Rx to navigate this challenging environment where the exchange of information extends beyond regulatory environments and national borders.

energi is pleased to be one of the sponsors of the first eye for pharma – eMarketing Canada conference, coming to Toronto on November 1 and 2.

The two-day event features thought-leaders from the healthcare industry, experienced marketers, physicians and regulators with a social media/digital super panel moderated by PAAB commissioner Ray Chepesiuk.

Sessions include:

  • Identifying top digital trends for 2011
  • Code of ethical practices that extends beyond compliance
  • Using social media to effectively connect with consumers
  • Establishing behaviour and needs of the online pharmacist and nurse
  • Reaching physicians and switching to online CME (continuing medical education)
  • Revolutionizing the way pharma events in Canada are planned, recruited, managed and tracked

Here’s where to see the agenda and speaker list.  Registration information is available here.

I’m looking forward to the case studies and best practices and to gain an understanding of the social media healthcare landscape. Hope to see you there.


Tweet in review – October 11-17

This is the beginning of  ‘the tweet in review’, a regular feature on my blog that highlights some interesting, helpful or amusing tweets I’ve read in a given week. Essentially, it’s my twitter notes. Have a look and let me know what you think.

I hope you’ll add to the list.

Week of Oct 11 to 17:

  1. New blogging and social media resource: @ginidietrich Introducing For Bloggers, By Bloggers from @dannybrown http://j.mp/bHs54g.
  2. A first glimpse of Google TV: @zaigham_inc Sony Airs First Google TV Commercial http://nblo.gs/9eJca.
  3. Sometimes, the volume of data that passes before us is a bit daunting. Here’s a 10 month compendium for ’10:  @lorirtaylor 50 of the Best Twitter Guides, Stats, Tips and Tools of 2010 (So Far) – http://ht.ly/2UbSj
  4. Has anyone Googled google-ization: @Alltop_Social Amazing List Of Every Google Product And How Much We Depend On Them http://bit.ly/aJsbbd.
  5. Publish books by pressing send:  @caroljsroth Barnes & Noble releases PubIt! Ebook tool. What are your thoughts? http://bit.ly/cA6gEq.
  6. Creation by curation-a new approach to journalism: @jayrosen_nyu One of the most optimistic signs in journalism is the evolution of people like Storify’s Burt Herman http://jr.ly/5g5a.

The long and winding tweet…

I think my journey on Twitter has been similar to that of many folks. I began perplexed and frustrated until I gave it a second (or third or fourth) try and then bumped around a bit till it started to make sense. That happened around the time I was able to conjugate the verb ‘to tweet’ in public.

On Inside PR #2.23, Gini, Joe and I talk about Twitter, how we use it, which platforms we’re on and the value it brings to communications.

And, as much as some thrive on the ego-boost of new followers, balanced, of course, by the reality check of those who fall by the wayside, Twitter is  more than a quasi-religious experience. For me, it’s the people I subscribe to and the insights and information they share, the things I can pass along to others and how I’m able to keep up with certain topics and late-breaking news.

So how do I manage the ebb and flow?  Hootsuite is my base for Twitter and a few of the other social networks I’m on. I still use the main Twitter platform, which has improved of late.  But  it’s more like a starter home;  the one you soon outgrow and then move onto a 3,000 sf third-party app (with attached URL shortener and AC, no less). On my BB, I use  the Twitter App and sometimes UberTwitter.

Will Twitter replace my RSS?  I don’t think so. It’s more of an RSS add-on. The big difference is that RSS doesn’t pass by in an instant, while Twitter is like a watching a never-ending parade.

Have a listen to the podcast and let us know what you think.

Measurement matters to Third Tuesday Toronto – Twitter notes

What’s the ROI? That ubiquitous question is on the minds of brand managers, PR folks, marketers and business people everywhere. Of course, it comes up a lot in social media where we still haven’t stumbled on that one surefire way to measure our programs’ success.

Last week, Third Tuesday Toronto held a full-day session on social media measurement featuring panel discussions with industry thought-leaders, supplier presentations and an insightful opening keynote by KD Paine.  (She also wrote a great post about the panel she moderated on future trends.)

There was much discussion, both in the room and online. Here’s a snapshot of my twitter notes from the event:

#ttmm @KDPaine Most trad ad measurement models were flawed because they didn’t measure earned media

#ttmm @KDpaine you need 3 tools for measurement: listening tool, research to find out what they’re thinking, web analytics

#ttmm @igrigorik @postrank 80 pct of engagement w/ content happens off a content generator’s site; 50 pct happens within 1st half-hr

#ttmm @igrigorik to spread an idea, you need to look beyond highly connected networks and find people at the edges for cross-communication

#ttmm @dbarefoot – influencers often don’t usually start innovations online, they amplify them

#ttmm @pierreloic-5 Rules to measure online influence: frame problem, be multidimensional, complexity as needed, be flexible, share insights

#ttmm @pierreloic ‘land grab’ between mkt & PR for soc media; each could emerge as leader as a driving force

#ttmm @davidalston when do you snap the ROI in soc media? Relationships are an asset that you can continue to build on

As you might imagine, there were more questions than answers. But there were actionable takeaways for communicators, too. Now it’s up to us to encourage our clients to look beyond impressions and those big shiny numbers we all love and start thinking about how we can engage people, entertain, inform and help them in a way that’s meaningful and encourages them to help us.  Measurement through reciprocal behaviours.

Given that the session was so relevant to PR folks, I was surprised how few agencies sent representatives.  I hope this isn’t another example of PR being slow to react and missing out on an opportunity to help lead the conversation.

As an industry, we need to stop thinking about who we were and focus on who we want to be. For me that’s content creators/producers, curators, community-builders.  And, of course strategic thinkers focused on value and measurable results.

Will we get there?  Right now I believe some of us will.

Special thanks to Joe Thornley, Canada’s social media community-builder for putting it all together (and for asking me to moderate a panel).

FDOC*: social media learning curve

It didn’t matter that I’m the instructor, yesterday I had first-day jitters for my social media course. This was amplified a bit when, at 9:05, I looked around the computer lab and no one was there (we start at 9 a.m.).  Turned out the class was listed in two rooms and the students were doing the same thing as me: patiently waiting and wondering what was going on.

Once we got settled, we reviewed the course outline and I talked about social media in general and the things we’d be covering and from the questions and looks on some faces, I remembered again how new social media is to most people.

It’s so easy for those of us who have been involved in social media for several years or more to take it for granted and assume it’s as commonplace as a news release, when in fact it isn’t.

And whether we’re talking to students, clients, bosses, colleagues or friends, we shouldn’t make assumptions. We should define the terms clearly and simply, explain how the various tools work and what their benefits are and answer questions with patience and good humour.  Those of us conversant in social media need to step back and realize that, as with anything else, there’s a learning curve.

I know I had it – have it, really, because one of the things I like best about social media is how it’s still evolving and there’s so much for all of us to understand.

And really when you get right down to it, aren’t we all students of social media right now?

*FDOC: first day of class

Jerry Lewis: social media pioneer?

As we head into Labour Day and the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon, it’s a question that popped into my head.

Not because MDA was one of the early organizations to live stream a broadcast. Nor because their website features Facebook, emotional videos, Twitter and a tote board with a live countdown to the show.

No, this goes back further than that – to the way slapschtick comic Jerry Lewis took on a cause that was close to his heart and lent his celebrity, energy and time to build an engaged community around it. And the approach he used reminds me a lot of social media.

Here’s why:

  1. He started small and built a community – the telethon began in 1955 and raised $600,000 (I got that from the MDA twitter feed). From there it grew to a ‘Love Network’ that spanned North America.
  2. He’s in it for the long haul – Lewis says he’ll keep raising money till they find a cure – and 55 years later no one would question his commitment.
  3. He understands relationships – look at the way he kibbitzes with the doctors and researchers, sponsors and celebrities. And more importantly, look at the respect he gives the folks (mostly kids and their famillies) who are affected by neuromuscular disease.
  4. He interweaves local and global –  whether it’s a grassroots fundraising event or a high profile charity concert, a small business donation or a corporation’s big cheque, hometown TV personalities or Vegas stars – everyone feels a part of the story.

The organization has grown, created ambassadors and helped many people. And it’s not surprising they’ve embraced social media too. In many ways, they were there from the start. I hope they beat their goal again and find a cure for muscular dystrophy. So tune in, laugh, cry and think about giving to this worthy cause. And follow the conversation #MDATelethon.

By the way, the telethon is also one of my favourite TV experiences. You can read about that here.

Back to Mac – social media for PR course starts September 11

Most of us learn about social media from the school of hard clicks. We Stumbleupon sites…download apps…subscribe to blogs…read and bookmark cases…tweet out links…test our ideas…and gain a working knowledge along the way.

And now there are also academic courses if you’re looking to understand social media in a more formalized environment (plug alert).

This fall on September 11 (not the greatest date to begin anything) and continuing for 14 Saturdays, I’ll be at McMaster University teaching a course in social media for PR.  It’s the second time I’m offering it.

The class combines communications theory with practical instruction in social media tools in order to get a strategic grounding in them.  We learn by listening, sharing, tweeting, discussing, collaborating, analysing and doing.

First day starts with an overview of where we are in the social space including getting the whole class on Twitter (under the hashtag #macsocmed).  I’ll also be introducing the students to the blogs of some of the more influential PR and marketing thought leaders.

The core assignment for students is creating a blog about a subject they’re passionate about and then researching, writing and editing posts, adding links, visuals and video and building and engaging a community.  Last year reading and discussing the blogs, which ranged from local politics to corporate social responsibility to moving into and renovating your first house to finding a job, was one of my favourite parts of the course.

Once the students have found their blog voices, I’ll introduce them and share some of our collective learnings and observations.  I’ll also be asking you for your thoughts from time to time.

Here’s where you go for more information on the class and how to sign up.

It’s Saturday morning (9 am to noon) and worth the drive to Hamilton (I hope).