Novartis, following in the footsteps of several other pharmaceutical companies, has launched a YouTube channel. I think this is a good move for two main reasons:
- 1. Even if pharma can’t take full advantage of social elements (immediate dialogue, free commenting, etc.) it is very important to put toes in the water and begin experimenting with these new channels of communication.
- 2. The best hope for pharma in turning around its PR and perception challenges is to allow patient stories to be told.
And that’s what is going on here – patient stories. The production quality of the videos is high, and wisely, most of the videos thus far are just about a minute long – bite-sized and to the point. The videos end very simply with a screen with the Novartis company name.
Patient stories cover cancer, dengue fever, meningitis, and transplantation (so far). Novartis product names are not used in the videos; obviously, it is implied that these patients have been treated with Novartis products, but these are very low-key stories from a promotional perspective. As expected in a pharma YouTube channel like this, Ratings and Comments are disabled, which reflects the regulatory conundrum all communicators in this space must deal with.
Here is how the company describes itself and its on-line presence in the sidebar:
- At Novartis (NYSE: NVS), we seek to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to prevent and cure diseases, to ease suffering and to enhance the quality of life. Breakthrough medicines are our highest priority, and we offer a wide range of healthcare products in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, consumer health, generics, eye care and animal health.
Information and video content on this Novartis Channel is intended for general educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Novartis does not provide personalized medical diagnosis or patient-specific treatment advice. For any medical questions, seek the advice of your own medical doctor or qualified health care professional. Information on the approved uses of Novartis products may vary by country. Patients, physicians and other medical professionals should check with local medical resources and regulatory authorities for information appropriate to their country. Certain sections of this Channel may be restricted for audiences in certain countries or for certain kinds of expert users.
© 2009 Novartis AG
Like CML Earth from Novartis, recently reviewed on this blog, the Novartis YouTube channel is a good start. It’s upbeat, puts a human face on disease treatment, and stays within safe parameters for pharma social media (which parameters are, alas, frustratingly narrow at this stage). I see no reason why all other pharma companies should not, at bare minimum, make use of on-line video as a way to get patient-centric messages out. A YouTube “broadcast” channel is a good place to begin in the use of social networking tools, even with restrictions on how much interactivity there can be.
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