One… uh, Two Small Steps for Pharmaco Blogging! OpEd by John Mack

Recently, two pharmaceutical company blogs have officially entered the Pharma BlogosphereTM: Johnson & Johnson’s “JNJ BTW” and Glaxo’s alliConnect.

JNJ BTW is a corporate communications blog that was started up by our friend Marc Monseau, director of media relations at J&J. Recall that Marc reached out to several bloggers and invited several to dinner at a restaurant in NYC (see “Should Bloggers Dine at Pharma’s Table?”).

Why “BTW”? I don’t know. I know it’s a neumonic for “By the Way” but I don’t know what it means in the context of the blog’s title. Marc doesn’t say.

According to Marc’s welcome message, “Everyone else is talking about our company, so why can’t we? There are more than 120,000 people who work for Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies. I’m one of them, and through JNJ BTW, I will try to find a voice that often gets lost in formal communications.”

alliConnect is GlaxoSmithKline’s official corporate blog for alli. According to the about statement, “It’s a place for you to have a conversation with us about weight loss issues.” It does warn visitors, however, that there are a few rules: “Because we work for a drug company we do have to abide by a few rules.”

The rules are brief: “Our posts and answers to your comments reflect our company’s point of view. They are based on the latest in science and what we’ve learned from talking to consumers.

“When we offer personal points of views, or talk about our experience with alli, we’ll make sure that’s clear.”

But the most interesting rule pertains to comments. Without comments from readers, a blog is just another Web page and a corporate blog is just another outlet for rehashed press releases.

Both blogs will include comments, but only after moderation. alliConnect’s comments policy welcomes readers to share stories about weight loss “even if they are critical of alli.” So far, they have posted about 7 comments, all are from non-consumer bloggers or from members of the “Alli first team,” which is basically the editorial staff for the blog. All were supportive of GSK and alli.

JNJ BTW hasn’t been so fortunate with its comments. One commenter tried to make J&J look bad on the conflict-of-interest issue by suggesting that J&J unduly has influence over Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through corporate ties.

J&J allowed the comment and Marc graciously responded. Refreshing! But as Marc says “I’m sure we will learn more as we blog, so keep in mind that nothing on JNJ BTW is set in stone.”

Issue: Vol. 6, No.6: June 2007

Word Count: n/a

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