About Marc Monseau

I am the founder and principal of MDM Communications, a digital and social media communications consultancy based in Princeton, New Jersey. I founded MDM after working for 14 years at Johnson & Johnson in the Corporate Communications group, most recently serving as Director of Social Media with responsibility for many of the company's social media properties, including the company blog, www.jnjbtw.com, Twitter feeds and Facebook page. Prior to joining JNJ, I worked as a reporter at Bloomberg Business News in the UK and later in the US.

SXSW: “A Congregation of the Curious”

I’m just back from SXSW and have spent the past few days decompressing, catching up on sleep and reflecting on all that I experienced while out there.  I think this is my fifth SXSW Interactive Conference (I’ve kinda lost count) and every year I’m asked any, or all, of the following questions from friends and colleagues who have yet to attend the conference:

“Isn’t it all totally overwhelming due to the crowds, the long lines and how the event is spread out across several city blocks?

“Aren’t many of the sessions poorly constructed, low-level, navel gazing exercises in personal brand-building?” 

“Isn’t it all just a big party for douche-bag NYC-marketing executives and the over privileged? 

“Can you REALLY  get work done there?”

My answer to each of these questions is a resounding “Yes, yes it is…BUT” – where I then add a HUGE caveat.

You see, for the past five years (or four – you see, I really can’t remember…) I’ve noted the post-SXSW rants by critics who complain that the conference is overblown, unproductive and a “Spring Break” for geeks where parties take precedence over substance.

While I do understand where these critics are coming from, I also think they very, very wrong.

SXSW provides a HUGE opportunity for those who are willing to embrace chaos, step outside of the everyday, trust in serendipity, and are willing to take chances.   This year, I left Austin with a greater sense of what I should focus on – both professionally and personally – thanks to the eclectic mix of music, art, creativity, technology and capital and intellectual brilliance assembled in that weird little City in Texas.

SXSW is the “congregation of the curious.”  I love this description, which I’ve plagiarized  from a terrific session by fellow Kenyonite, Camille Sweeny, and her partner, Josh Garfield, during their discussion of the “power of failure.”  More on this below, but the people who  get the most out of SXSW are those who are willing to be curious – to ask questions and to take time to explore.

Through my journey this year, I found the following:

The best insights at SXSW can be found when you — CLICHE ALERT!!! — “step outside of your comfort zone.”   Some of the most inspirational and thought-provoking events I’ve seen at SXSW over the years have not been specifically about work-related matters, but have been instead been about big ideas or have provided a glimpse into genius.

For instance, four years ago I saw a session by Douglas Rushkoff in which he implored the audience to remember that devices and online communications platforms are there to SERVE US and not the other way around.  He explained that we should therefore check e-mail, Facebook and other tools when it suits us rather than when we are pinged, beeped or called.  That session has helped me try to live in the moment.

This year, I caught an interview with Ralph Steadman that provided an intimate look into his creative process.  We were able to get a glimpse (via Skype) into his studio where Ralph was safely ensconced, and where he shared his notebooks, sketches and the big pad of paper where he splats ink and produces his powerful observations of contemporary society.  My takeaway?  From Ralph, I was reassured that sometimes you just have to say “Fuck it” and make things happen, even if others may criticize or fail to completely get what you are trying to do.

Failure can be positive – it can provide an impetus for creating new, innovative and successful business ideas.  When high achievers are faced with failure they challenge their beliefs and summoned their courage to find new ways of doing things.

 As a small business owner, trying to find a successful business model in a very competitive environment, I’m used to the idea of reinvention.  I understand that business plans need to be malleable – and in the session put together by Sweeney and Gosfield on the power of failure, a process was outlined that successful business owners go through to identify new models, opportunities and offerings.  It gave me strength and inspiration.

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We all have to take greater responsibility for the security of our personal data and information.  Session after session – starting with Eric Shmidt, and including Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald (among others), all talked to the importance of protecting your data and personal information.  Those that control data control the world.  Though programmers have a responsibility for developing methods to encrypt data, we all should take more responsibility to ensure that we are protecting our own personal information.

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Everyone at SXSW is on a journey – and it is best to take the time to get to know your fellow passengers.  Though I felt I was constantly in motion for six days – jumping from session to session, prepping for my panel and interviewing folks for my side project with Shwen, www.pharmfresh.tv, the most rewarding time I spent in Austin was having quiet, thoughtful conversations with some of the clever, funny, accomplished and inspired people attending the conference.  As my United Airlines flight sped from Austin back to Newark, my thoughts were not so much about the sessions themselves, but the ideas, insights and perspectives put forward by the folks I met.

There is much, much more.  (In particular, I hosted a panel looking at the future of digital health — write-ups can be found here and here — in which we discussed what qualities a successful company in this space will exhibit – but I’ll cover this in a separate post.)  So, while SXSW can be criticized for its frenetic and un-focused design, the hit or miss quality of the presentations or never-ending party atmosphere, it is just these components that help make it a success.

Given how so much of our lives are spent just simply getting by — given how much mental and physical energy we spend jumping from one project to another, serving different causes or initiatives other than our own, it is rare that we have the freedom to explore to gain inspiration, knowledge and perspectives that help see the world differently.   For all its faults, SXSW provides the curious attendee with that opportunity.



Driving Digital Innovation at the DHC

What are the biggest barriers to digital innovation for healthcare companies?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll likely get a different answer.  Some point to the cultural readiness of the organization.  Others blame a structure that creates silos between different divisions.  Still others bemoan an inability of regulatory and marketing to work with a common sense of purpose.

Earlier this week, the Digital Health Coalition held its spring members meeting at the ePharma conference in NYC.  At the event, the DHC took some of these perceived barriers head -on — and what became clear is that some companies (or at least some forward-thinking folks at those companies) know what CAN be done to clear some of those hurdles.

During a lengthy session on making MLR process improvements, Preeti Pinto, from Preeti Pinto & Associates, Stacy Reese from Shire, Philomena McArthur from Janssen and Ilyssa Levins from the Center for Communication Compliance, provided some recommendations that marketers, regulatory staff and communications professionals can do to speed the time to approval for digital projects.

As a DHC board member, I’ve heard a lot of great ideas over the past few years about what companies can do to enhance their digital prowess.  However, the ideas presented by Preeti, Stacy, Philomena and Eloisa really stood out.

Stacy and Philomena represented what is right about regulatory leaders — both described how they work closely with their colleagues in marketing and communications and endeavor to say “yes, if…” rather than “no, because…” when presented with new, previously untried, ideas.

Ilyssa, however, really challenged the group.  She posited that one of the major issues that stymies innovation is a lack of  alignment between different functional ares — that regulatory, compliance, legal and marketing teams may not necessarily use a common language or have a common sense of purpose.

To address this, she proposed what she described as a set of “alignment objectives” that marketers, communications professionals and regulatory and legal staff can use to bring all the process gatekeepers into alignment.  A collection of some alignment objectives that Ilyssa identified are included below:

Level 1 (For Companies that are just beginning to use innovation digital tools for communications.)

  • Establish/agree on a super-ordinate goal for digital engagement so that it is not about ‘my process’ or ‘your process’ but about desired outcomes; put the focus on the higher collaborative purpose
  • Recognize that digital does not exist in a vacuum and spell out all considerations:  legal, medical and compliance requirements; product attributes/history; company standards; process requirements; etc.
  • Tackle myths and misperceptions about one another’s value which could negatively impact progress, and address these prior to embarking on programming

Level 2 (For organizations that are more digitally savvy)

  • Ensure team members have firm grasp of regulatory fundamentals to reduce number of non-compliant marketing materials developed by agency/marketing
  • Understand what non-negotiable, non-compliant elements must be filtered out of digital recommendations before submission
  • Articulate the value of early concept reviews determine specific parameters for their use and prioritize areas of disagreement relating to claims with the greatest potential risk

Level 3 (For companies that have programs in place but need to demonstrate value and success of those programs.)

  • Develop a protocol for analyzing proposed digital campaigns using a ROI mentality so the question gets asked:  will it cost us more to develop the idea for compliant execution than we would gain in sales impact?
  • Establish and adhere to business rules on relevant issues (e.g., social media commenting and sharing; generic name inclusion for scrolls; SEO key words/linking)
  • Make it easier to understand ‘how’ digital tactics might work by developing mock sites to demonstrate basic functionality of digital assets

These are just proposed alignment objectives — designed to encourage MLR and marketing teams to discuss how they can better work together to achieve their goals.

There were other, similar ideas also discussed at the meeting.  The point is, that sometimes there are simple things communications professionals, marketers, regulatory personal or other professionals can do to improve how they work with their colleagues and together help advance the adaptation and use of digital tools to achieve the goals of the organization.

The DHC has focused, for several years, on trying to create research materials, checklists, and other resources that companies can use to move from traditional marketing and communications models to ones that effectively use digital tools.

After the panel, we broke into workshop group, one of which was charged with developing additional alignment objectives that the DHC could pull together into a comprehensive list. Other groups had similar objectives to focus on.  Hopefully, the workshop will result in other, simple materials the DHC can produce that its members can use to customize for their own organizations.



PharmFresh Meets SXSW

Well, it’s that time again.  People are packing bags, cursing that they didn’t get their hotel rooms early enough and digging out their cowboy hats, hipster T-shirts and best talking shoes and getting ready to head to Austin for SXSW.

Last year, Shwen Gwee and I recorded a load of interviews of digital health thought leaders, entrepreneurs and investors as part of our PharmFresh.TV project.  I thought I would share a few of them here — though you can find a whole slew of them on the PharmFresh.TV site.

In the following clip, I interview Margaret Laws of the California Healthcare Foundation:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/73087013″>PFTV SXSW2013 10bi2-MargaretLaws</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/pharmfresh”>Shwen Gwee</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Bridgegate: What Would you Do?

The following originally appeared in the Jan. 27th edition of PR News

It’s one of those questions that most of us hope we will never have to answer: What do you do when senior leaders of your organization step down amid allegations of wrongdoing? Since “Bridgegate,” no doubt most people are dusting off their crisis communications manuals and asking themselves this very question. Though every situation is different, I’ve pulled together the following four tips that every public relations professional should keep in mind:

• Get the facts. Okay, this one is pretty obvious but it is worth remembering that when questions arise about the behaviors of senior leaders your first responsibility is to get the facts behind what happened. Put yourself in the role of a reporter to better understand who was involved, what actually happened and why.

• Leave the echo chamber. Your best advisors may not necessarily be those who rush to your defense. Nor may other leaders within your own organization be best suited to dispense advice, given their relationships with those involved. If possible, seek counsel from outsiders who can look at the situation with a critical eye. They may not only bring a fresh perspective, but may also raise previously unasked questions and can provide a good gauge as to whether your response will resonate.

• Don’t blame your accusers. This goes hand-in-hand with recommendation #2. Try to understand the perspective of your critics and formulate your response accordingly. Remember that the long-term image and reputation of your organization (as well as your own personal brand) are at stake and though a flip response may serve immediate needs, you will be judged by how you manage the situation over the long-term.

• Don’t forget your own employees. Amidst a leadership scandal, senior leaders may initially be reluctant to communicate internally. Your job is to make sure that your internal stakeholders remain engaged, productive and understand what is being done to correct the situation. That means communicating often and ensuring that senior leaders are seen to be out in front of the situation. The worst thing that any organization can do is to turn its back on its own employees who, in the time of a crisis, could be your biggest advocates.


How Digital Impacts Agency-Client Relationships

The following piece originally ran in PR News in August, 2013:

Agency-Client Relations On The Digital Front

After working as a client for more than 15 years, two years ago I moved to the agency side, where I now help different clients with their digital communications programs. Having worked both sides of the street, I’ve seen both good and bad in client-agency relationships, and have a few tips for both parties to create beneficial partnerships for digital projects.

1) Don’t be afraid to challenge. All too often, clients see what others have done and want the same thing, even though it may not make sense for their audience or market. The desire to chase the “shiny object” happens to all of us, but it is the duty of the digital agency to ensure that before time, effort and money are spent, the initiative can achieve the business’s strategic objectives. To be a true partner, an agency has to overcome the desire to “serve” by just giving clients what they want, and instead act as a learned counsel.

2) Don’t allow yourself to be boxed in. We have a tendency to operate in silos—marketing folks provide marketing solutions while PR folks focus on PR. The job of a good digital agency is to create solutions that reflect how people now find and use information. That solution may not be one that is exclusively about public relations. It also may involve marketing or customer service. A good agency will take time to understand the client’s organization and work to create bridges between different functional areas to help a program succeed.

3) Be respectful. This is one principle that is forgotten all too often. Respect is at the core of any solid relationship, and it works both ways. To get the most from an agency, the client should treat it more as a partner and less as a service provider. At the same time, the agency partner should take time to better understand the world its client operates in, the hurdles it needs to overcome and its vision. It is through mutual respect that great work is accomplished.

Marc Monseau is a managing partner of Mint Collective and former director of corporate communications and social media at Johnson & Johnson. Follow him on Twitter, @mdmonseau.

Creating Cultural Readiness: The Crucial Element to Becoming an Innovation-driven Company

The following was originally published on PM360 on December 10th, 2013.

Ask most pharmaceutical marketers about their organizations’ digital prowess and you usually hear the following:

“We are a very conservative.”


“We are risk averse.”


“We don’t encourage innovation.”

Sound familiar?

There is a general sense within most pharmaceutical and medical device companies that they lag behind other industries when it comes to innovative digital marketing and communications programs. In a recent survey conducted by the Digital Health Coalition of its pharmaceutical and medical device members, 70% of respondents said they believed they were slightly or very far behind other industries in the development and execution of all digital programs. In that same survey, 57% said the industry lagged behind others when it comes to online video, 82% when it comes to mobile media and 93% when it comes to social media.

These perceptions are not far from reality. Time and again, healthcare organizations have turned to digital communications as a means to reach, engage and convert different audiences to drive business results, only to fall short of expectations. All too often, programs are not integrated across multiple online platforms, lack the appropriate resources to ensure they are sustainable, or include content that fails to resonate with their target audiences. Clearly there is an issue.

Changing Your Company Culture

Though regulatory limitations or the complexities of creating a digital program in the highly regulated healthcare field are often cited as reasons behind these shortcomings, one key underlying problem is a lack of cultural readiness that enables the creation, development and effective execution of an innovative digital initiative.

In this, the pharmaceutical industry is not alone. Consumer products companies, traditional manufacturers and other consumer-facing organizations have likewise had their share of digital disappointments. The difference, however, is that many of these organizations have since taken steps to better equip their organizations to support innovative digital approaches. From Ford to Kraft Foods, the companies that are often cited as digital leaders are those that have created the right internal environment to support innovative mobile, online video and real-time communications.

In some cases, this has involved structural change and the creation of new, hitherto unheard of positions. For instance, to enhance its digital marketing presence, Kodak created a “Chief Listening Officer” position that reported to the Chief Marketing Officer, but also provided insights and guidance to corporate communications and customer service. By breaking down silos to create better connections between marketing, public relations and customer service departments, some organizations have established a consistent image and approach at every customer touch point.

In other organizations, this has involved the creation of extensive training and education programs. For instance, at the request of leaders in the C-suite, Proctor & Gamble created a dedicated, centralized “center of excellence” style team charged with developing company-wide approaches for everything digital—from mobile marketing to social media. These playbooks were then communicated through training and education programs throughout the organization and, most importantly, to the company’s leading brands.

All too often, change comes on the heels of a crisis. Dell, after undergoing the “hell” of being at the center of an online social media firestorm, recalibrated how it handled customer service, creating an extensive social listening command center charged with handling both reactive and opportunistic digital communications. Suffice to say, most of us would rather not suffer through a crisis to create a “culturally ready” organization.

How then do pharmaceutical and medical device companies create the kind of internal environment that enables the development, execution and management of innovative digital communications that provide a great customer experience?

Achieving Organizational Effectiveness

At the Digital Health Coalition’s Fall Summit, held at the Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia, we decided to tackle this topic head on. We invited Howard Jacobson, PhD, an expert in organizational effectiveness, to address the question of how we, as marketers, can help drive change within our organizations.

In his talk, Jacobson provided several pointers aimed at improving relationships between marketers and different gatekeepers, such as legal and regulatory. By understanding the needs and hot button issues influencing these gatekeepers, as well as knowing what words or phrases could be a sign of future retrenching, Jacobson suggested we could reduce churn, enhance development and increase success rates.

It was a simple message, and one that those of us who have led the charge to drive the use of innovative digital programs within large organizations know very well. We can drive organizational change by developing strong relationships with key internal stakeholders, influencing others and leading by example. Though change may occur at a slower rate than through restructuring or investing in a “center of excellence” model, better partnerships with key decision-makers can not only enable the development of creative approaches to reach customers digitally, but also create the right cultural environment for future innovative programs.

With a hat-tip to Jacobson for inspiring and influencing the following, I’ve pulled together six tips for pharmaceutical marketers to help not only in the creation and execution of innovative digital programs, but also slowly drive cultural change within an organization:

1. Develop relationships with key decision gatekeepers. It is important to routinely have conversations with your colleagues in legal, regulatory and compliance to better understand not only their perspectives on potential hurdles but also to help them learn more about what you are trying to achieve. Provide them with news of trends or developments and even consider inviting them to industry conferences and events. If a campaign or initiative is already underway, provide frequent updates, covering both successes as well as barriers that you have identified. Be a storyteller, and not only the story of your project, but also of the audiences you are trying to reach.

2. Understand the history of your organization. Many processes or rules that are in place in an organization were put in place for reasons that, over time, many people may have forgotten. Take time to delve into the past of your organization to learn more about the origins of why things work the way they do. Only by understanding the past can you help to influence the development of new rules or processes for the future.

3. Start small and build. There is often a greater comfort level to allow smaller, low-risk projects. When I was at Johnson & Johnson, we were able to create a broad, social face for the organization only by starting small with a corporate blog. As we gained greater experience, and as the decision gatekeepers we were working with gained greater confidence in our team, we were able to expand our social media presence. The major advantage of these small projects is that they can not only be completed quickly, but they also do not require a long-term commitment or a major investment.

4. Bring outside thinking in. The healthcare industry is notoriously insular. To encourage innovative approaches, bring in voices that are often not heard to provide a different perspective. Read about what other industries are doing. Seek the opinions of patient advocates, online physicians or entrepreneurs. If possible, share these insights with key gatekeepers—not in a confrontational way, but in order to encourage broader thinking.

5. Share the results. Whether or not a program is successful, be prepared to share what was learned with the broader organization. Doing so not only helps educate the organization, but can also help in the development of the next program.

6. Demonstrate courage. This can’t be overstated. When someone within the organization is willing to take a risk and, in doing so, proves to be successful, the ripple effect can be enormous. Not only are others thereby encouraged to quickly follow, but the key gatekeepers become more willing to allow innovative programs to proceed.

These are just a few things that each of us can bring to our jobs and to the projects we work on. Taking these small steps to build relationships and demonstrate leadership can not only help in the development of projects that may break new ground, but can also help lay the foundation for future innovation.

Creating an organization that is culturally ready to support and drive innovative digital initiatives can be accomplished through organizational restructuring or through an investment in the resources needed to create a centralized team focused on change. But it can also be created though smaller, more incremental changes driven by an internal change agent. By demonstrating behaviors that encourage partnerships with stakeholders, courage and vision, these change agents can inspire others to act likewise, particularly if they are responsible for the creation of a successful program. This knock-on effect could, in the long term, help to gradually change how the organization operates and enable the development of innovative digital media programs.

How to be Culturally Ready for Social Media

This was originally published in PRNews in August, 2013

Every day we are reminded of how digital communications platforms, including social networks, have changed how people interact with each other and how they expect companies to interact with them.

Success, as study after study has shown, depends on whether companies not only understand these trends, but also how to effectively use different digital platforms.

One such study, titled “The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise,” compiled by the Economist Intelligence unit and PulsePoint Group, found companies that fully embrace social engagement are experiencing four times greater positive business results than those that are less engaged.

Yet ensuring companies not only know what needs to be done, but are culturally ready to support digital communications, isn’t easy.

PR professionals have a unique skill set, from experience with stakeholder relationship management to internal and external communications, that can not only help organizations find their digital footing, but also to make the cultural changes needed to keep them one step ahead of the competition.

In all of this, you, as a PR professional, can play a key role. Drawing upon experiences in coordinating strategic communications, you can help ensure consistency across multiple external touchpoints.

Through a blend of education and the execution of proof-of-principle concepts, you can also create cultural readiness.

There are many different tactics that you can use to accomplish this, but below are six key approaches to consider:

 Gain senior management support: You can (and should) help your leadership team become more digitally savvy to better understand the impact these technologies have on society and your industry. Consider providing regular digital updates at executive leadership meetings or holding an immersion day that brings outside thinking into your organization to provide insights into how technology is being used to build and expand businesses.

• Befriend Legal: Having worked with different regulated companies, I’ve found that legal and regulatory are often unfairly blamed for the lack of innovative communications. Rather than view legal as a hurdle, you should partner with your legal colleagues.

• Create policies and procedures: For many companies, and, in particular, regulated industries, established policies may limit the ability to communicate using social and digital channels. Benchmark with other companies to understand their approaches and to get a clear idea of what has triggered regulatory action in the past.

• Raise Awareness of Your Social Presence: Track and monitor the conversation about your business, creating reports covering the volume, sentiment and topics covered. Share these reports with the key internal stakeholders to help them understand what is being said and how those conversations impact your organization.

• Demonstrate Value: Take on a small project that you can control that has a meaningful business objective and where the results can be measured. As the project evolves, share the results with internal stakeholders to help them better understand the value that such projects can have to the organization. Celebrate success broadly with your internal audiences to encourage others.

• Create a Sandbox for Experimentation: Establish a safe place where employees can use and experiment with social media tools to support the business. For instance, there are a variety of collaboration tools that can be used to solicit new ideas from employees. By employing such tools, you can help raise the organizational readiness of your company by demonstrating how social technologies can help make the business more efficient.

These are just a few of the things that you, as a PR professional, can execute within your organization to help them become culturally ready to be more socially-engaged. By drawing upon experience in internal and external communications, stakeholder management and a knowledge of new communications trends, you can help lead the charge to effectively compete in the new online relationship-driven world.

Sanofi: Getting Close to Online Patients

An ongoing topic of conversation within companies is how they can structure their operations to support ongoing communications with different online communities.  Such outreach is time consuming and resource intensive, often requiring the creation of entire teams dedicated to providing support.  In addition, for regulated industries, there is the added uncertainty and confusion surrounding HOW they can interact with general public.

In the life sciences space, one company has been taking bold steps to figure this out:  Sanofi.  Back at the e-Patients Connections Conference (#epatcon12) in October, I had the opportunity to interview Laura Kolodjeski (@lkolodjeski), the community manager for Sanofi to discuss how they are taking steps to work closely with the community in a responsible, yet meaningful way.  What is striking is that through their efforts, they are getting closer to their community to support their broader long-term objectives:

Note:  This first ran on Pharm Fresh TV, a collaborative video project that I do with Shwen Gwee (@shwen) from Edelman.

What’s the Latest on the Digital Health Coalition?

A few weeks ago, Shwen Gwee attended the e-Patients Connections conference in Philadelphia.  While there, we had a chance to interview few thought leaders in digital health for our Pharm Fresh TV effort, including Mark Bard the co-founder of the Digital Health Coalition — a group dedicated to helping healthcare companies to create appropriate pathways to engage through emerging digital channels, including social media.  Mark provided us with an update on the latest from the DHC:  

Creating Compelling Content

Last week I had the honor of participating in the second “Pioneers in Digital Health” meeting — a thought provoking event put together by Chandler Chicco’s Ritesh Patel and his colleagues.  (Morning and afternoon recaps are available on CCC’s blog, Vital Signs.)

Unlike most health-focused conferences, Ritesh and his team made a point of bringing in a number speakers who provided perspectives that were not specifically related to health. The intent was to inspire the audience to look at health communications differently — and to bring thinking from other industries into the healthcare space.   And it worked.  As the day unfolded, a recurring theme was that, whether professionals or patients, people demand content they find compelling and captivating and that healthcare communications don’t have to be stiff and formal.

This point took hold from the very beginning.  To kick off the day, Pranav Yadav of Neuro Insight provided a glimpse of tools that measure brain waves to identify what messages and images resonate with the audience.  Pranav  gave  an example of how by understanding consumer reactions to content, he and his team were able to help improve an advertisement to drive a positive consumer experience.  While much research goes into the creation of healthcare advertising and promotional materials, I feel that too often the materials miss the mark.  They are either too polished or too formal or too much of a sales “push” lacking in subtlety or sophistication.

Yadav’s presentation reminded me — and hopefully others in the room — that in today’s multichannel digital environment we aren’t just competing with market competitors for the attention of our target audiences. The battle for eyeballs and actions is also being waged against an army of creators that includes other consumers who are creating content and experiences that delight and invite engagement.

Today’s digital tools empower people to redefine their relationships with others — including  established institutions like manufacturers, governments and academic institutions — on their own terms.  Companies and brands need to not only understand these new rules of engagement, but also to recognize what  elements will entice customers to view, read and, hopefully, spread word of company-created content with their networks. In health, as in other industries, content needs to be compelling, useful, entertaining and, perhaps most of all, “human” in tone and approach.   Just because it is about health, doesn’t mean the  content has to be bland.

As the day came to a close, Ritesh underscored this point, showing a video that caused a chorus of laughter in the room — a recap of a clever campaign Bayer had created in the UK to raise awareness of ED.  Funny stuff, but a great example of how the healthcare industry CAN create content that not only informs but entertains — all while achieving the goals of the business.