Consider the power of the stories locked in your pharmaceutical company. Stories about real people; about hope through the discovery of new cures for diseases; lives changed through medicine. Stories about real people enjoying their work.
Telling these stories with passion and emotion can be a real challenge for pharmaceutical communicators operating within the limits of worldwide corporate brands and complex regulatory environments. Yet those who succeed have the opportunity to build new levels of trust amongst consumers and professionals.
Some have taken steps to communicate beyond the polished, ‘glossy brochure’ and somewhat clinical corporate exterior that has been the norm in the healthcare industry for years. Last year we reported on Johnson & Johnson’s blog, JNJBTW and pointed out how pharmaceutical companies like J&J and GlaxoSmithKline were using blogs to get closer to customers.
Now sanofi-aventis has taken a fresh approach to injecting life into pharmaceutical corporate communications with the launch of sanofi-aventis.TV. Described by sanofi-aventis as “A window on our company” the format is certainly likely to engage a much broader range of stakeholders than traditional pharmaceutical communications and press releases.
Sanofi-aventis’ Chief Executive Officer, Christopher A. Viebacher, says that the new website will be both interactive and continually updated:
“As part of the company’s overall goal to increase transparency and understanding of its operations inside and outside its walls, sanofi-aventis TV will be a continually updated source of interactive information.”
Content on the website, launched in May 2009, is divided amongst six video channels covering topics including research, business strategies, and public health issues such as counterfeiting. For me, the most powerful aspect of the website is the insight into the real lives of sanofi-aventis’ people.
Take for example the story of 31-year-old Ayanda, who works in customer services for sanofi-aventis in South Africa, which currently features on the website’s home page. It is a great example of something that could not have been achieved without sanofi-aventis.TV. It’s not news; you would not expect to see a press release about the everyday experience of the company’s workforce. But it communicates powerful messages about sanofi-aventis’ values. Words like ‘make a difference’, ‘the lives of others’, ‘listener’, ‘communicate’, ‘respect’, ‘dignity’, ‘ethical’, ‘responsibilities’, are all captured in Ayanda’s words.
Or take the interview with Christoph Lengauer, Sanofi Aventis’ Global Head of Oncology Drug Discovery, in which he describes sanofi-aventis’ work in cancer discovery research. This personal insight into the working life of a scientist captures the hope that his work brings to patients. Christoph talks about his excitement about what he calls ‘the moment of discovery’, quoting Austrian Nobel Prize winner Max Perutz: “Discovery is like falling in love, and climbing to the top of a mountain after a hard climb“. Again, passionate language you would not find on a press release.
The website has been described by sanofi-aventis as “6 themed channels for a new dialog between sanofi-aventis and our various audiences”. In reality, however, there is little sign of two-way dialogue. Users can rate videos, and can send comments to sanofi-aventis through a contact form. But in 2009 it does not feel very much like an interactive platform.
Daniel Ghinn is Director of Digital Engagement, Healthcare, at Creation Interactive.
If you are a pharmaceutical communicator seeking to increase the level of engagement with stakeholders online, speak with Creation today about a digital engagement strategy.