Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pfizer & Dell get down with online social networks & blogging?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Also read this one for Dell:

Another blog on Pfizer and Exubra you might say?! What can I do? Everyone's doin' it, so I had to too.. ;). I will try to make this interesting though...

Okay, so we all learned (learnt) about Pfizer's earnings this past week.

There was a slightly heavy write-off on the failure of Exubra (about $2.8 bn you might say). And some of us also probably read about Nektar's CEO steaming about how Pfizer didn't even let them know about the fact that they were dropping Exubra and they had to learn about it from Pfizer's earnings call...

Come on, what are press releases for, eh, Howard Robin? You should be reading them, and Pfizer was testing you...

If you ignore this dark side of Pfizer where they blindside their own collaborators, you can begin to look at their "positive" side. And that is this:

They realized the problem with Exubra's sales was "marketing".

I see. So, it had nothing to do with 'inhalable insulin' being one of biotech's biggest challenges or that Nektar seemingly modified a supersized birdfeeder (read the "bizjournals" reference to a blogger saying so..wasn't me!) to cause the delivery of Exubra.

Oh I am sure Exubra's failure had to do with marketing. Why wouldn't it? Just look at how well Pfizer handled its PR with Nektar...through a press release. Its like breaking up over the phone...

Anyhow, now that the really long premise has been set for the whole post, lets look at Pfizer's next move to mitigate their "marketing" goof up. They are going "facebook" on physicians.

They are now going to walk the online landmine that is "Sermo". Sermo, apparently Latin for conversation (because latin is very relevant) is a take on the erstwhile "stitch n' bitch" approach that doctors usually take to advance their practice.

Apparently Sermo doesn't regulate what the doctors post after it verifies that in fact they are MDs. (In other issues I found this FAQ badly in need of grammatical touch-up, "How will Sermo paying clients use information from the Sermo community?"). Plus, rightfully enough, the MDs don't need to reveal who they are when they post...

Could all this mean more PR problems for Pfizer in the future? Potentially! Maybe they should merge the PR and Marketing departments to "strategically" "leverage" their "operational advantages" to "maximize" something or the other.

I can totally understand why they would use an "innovative" technique to solve a fundamental problem. After all "old-school" techniques such as plain talk with doctors won't lead to good marketing results now, would they?

Meanwhile, I think Dell has actually done something meaningful with online collaborations to try and improve its stature among its customers. Mostly because they make a consumer product, and they cannot reach out to thousands of customers on a personal basis.

As for me, I hope Sermo's execs read Pfizer's press releases closely (A Google Alert might help). And, if this trend continues, eHarmony and might have another "vertical" "channel" to explore.

PS: Just feeling very sarcastic today. Most of the double quotes refer to "corporate speak" that you could download onto flash cards and spend many a lazy afternoon making up meaningless gibber...for fun! It could land you a job with PR, Marketing, Cross Department Collaboration, Business Development or Executive Management!!!

PS2 (not to be confused with Sony's suffering product line): I was looking for the "birdfeeder" reference and came up with:

Oh, so much fun...

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