Lisa Banket
Cofounding Partner/Publisher
Taren Grom
Cofounding Partner/Editor-in-Chief
Heather Hummel
Project Coordinator
Dan Limbach
Producer, Webcast Network
Denise Myshko
Managing Editor
Kim Ribbink
Features Editor
Robin Robinson
Senior Editor
Marah Walsh
Cofounding Partner/New Business Development

PharmaVOICE Editors' Blog

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Using QR Codes in Print Magazines

Marah Walsh

More than 15 years after being created by Toyota to track vehicle parts during manufacturing in Japan, QR codes are slowly, but surely, making their way to the forefront in the United States as a mobile/Smartphone app.

As part of PharmaVOICE's continuing goal to bridge the gap between print and digital media, in January 2011 we will be featuring QR codes throughout the magazine, allowing you to instantly access our on-demand digital content, including digital articles, podcasts, whitepapers, webinars, videos — while on the go. In addition, Roska Healthcare Advertising is taking an innovative marketing approach by sponsoring a QR code on the cover of PharmaVOICE, linking readers to relevant sponsored content.

This is just the beginning of how Smartphone technology can be used for lead generation and creating brand and product awareness, and a potential new market for both media companies and marketers.

If you are unfamiliar with QR codes or the technology, here are a couple of helpful hints to get started:

1. To make sure your phone can scan a QR code with its camera, either download an application (usually free) or activate the software already installed on your phone. (To find out what application to use, search for your phone model along with "QR Reader" using your favorite search engine.)

2. When you see a QR code, use your phone application to scan the 2-D code.

3. Download additional content at your fingertips. You can dive deeper into the topics that interest you as well as access complementary media files, such as videos and podcasts.

We are excited to once again raise the bar and bring you the most innovative media solutions.
This is just the beginning of how readers and advertisers can reap the benefits of QR codes in print publishing.

"I Will Quit" Campaign Launches

Dan Limbach

In cooperation with the Great American Smokeout on November 18, 2010, Core-Create has launched a campaign for the American Cancer Society.

The campaign will be highly visible on commuter trains, billboards, phone kiosks, smartphones, and a microsite.

Click on the following link for more information:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Collaboration Model in Drug Discovery

Dan Limbach

Developing a cure often takes decades. A big part of it is in the early/academic phase of drug discovery. Few people share their work before they can publish or patent their ideas. One man with MS starts a company to find a cure for the disease.

This article in the November 2010 issue of Fast company tells the story of a company who brings researchers together to collaborate on their research and speed of the development process.

Why can't we all just work together?

Brown University: Ethics in Pharma

Dan Limbach

Brown University hosted a pair of lectures about ethics in the pharmaceutical industry.

Is pharma too profitable? Do they reinvest their profits appropriately? Are they socially responsible? Should they be allowed to operate like any public company? Some compelling questions are discussed in this video.

Featuring Dr. Marcia Angell and Dr. Mary Ruwart.

Janus Forum Lectures are sponsored by Browns Political Theory Project. The Lectures are part of the Project Janus Forum, a student-run initiative that encourages open-minded debate about political ideas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Smartphone Users: How they are viewed

Dan Limbach

Are you an iPhone fanatic? Maybe you favor the Blackberry, or the newcomer, the Android platform.

Here's a snarky illustration about how these user groups see themselves and how they are seen by each other.

click on image for full size version
Source: C-Section Comics

Friday, November 5, 2010

Simple Search Marketing in 3 Easy Steps

Dan Limbach

Search marketing can be very complicated. Here's a simple approach to paid search, and it should take less than an hour. No code changes to your site are necessary.

Step 1) Let Google analyze your website for relevant keywords.

Click here:
AdWords Keyword Estimator Tool

Type in your website url in the right-hand box, and type in the security letters in the lower box. If you are logged into a Google account, you will not see the security box, as you have already been validated. Click the Search button.

click on image to enlarge

You'll see a list of keywords. Let's sort them by number of search hits globally. Click on the "Relevance" button.

click on image to enlarge

Select "Glogal Monthly Searches" in the pulldown menu.

click on image to enlarge

Click on the Columns button and check the three columns in the image below. You can also drag and drop the columns to be in the order you prefer.

click on image to enlarge

Now the keywords are sorted by number of searches. You also see what you would need to bid for that keyword for your ad to be seen on Google. The Competition column tells you relatively how many bids are in for that keyword.

click on image to enlarge

The best opportunities for your site have the following characteristics:

  • High number of searches for a relevant phrase
  • Low bid price
  • Low competition
Click on one of the keywords. You will see the results page for that Google search.

AdWords ads are placed in the areas marked by the red box. Organic results (not paid) are displayed in the area marked by the blue box. Ads are placed based on how effective they are at getting clicks and how much you bid. Your ads will move around the ad areas as they and other ads are analyzed by the system. No matter what you bid, you cannot guarantee the top position.

click on image to enlarge

Step 2) Place your bids

You need an AdWords account to place bids. Its' free to register, but you need a balance in your account to place bids. This balance will be deducted from whenever someone clicks on your ad. Knowing how to write compelling ads is a topic unto itself.

Step 3) Track your keyword performance

AdWords will tell you how many click you've received and how much you've paid for those clicks. If a keyword is giving you a lot of clicks, but they are not converting into your objectives, you can turn off specific keywords. It pays to review your AdWords account at least weekly. Many people review high traffic accounts daily, even hourly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Creativity and Its Critical Role In Pharmaceutical Branding & Marketing

Dan Limbach

Core Nation launches 3-part blog series

Dorene Weisenstein of The Core Nation (Core-Create/Brandkarma) is showcasing a 3-part blog series on our blog The series looks at common branding and marketing tactics that instead of distinguishing innovative pharma products, launches them into a “sea of sameness” and then offers creative calls to action.

Here is the link to view the highlights:

Or just go right to the blog at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Map Puts Online Communities in Perspective

Dan Limbach

There are so many ways to participate in online communities, and the choices can be daunting. Email, Forums, Facebook, Twitter.

In the early days of the commercial Internet (after it was only used as a research tool), I remember having just a few choices. Compuserve, Prodigy, and eventually AOL. There were also Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) you could dial into with your 33K modem. Each were considered online communities in their own right. My, how things have changed.

Now there are hundreds of online community platforms, and many come and go like the tides.  Check out this informative "Map" of online communities from The larger the land mass, the more robust and active the community (it's not solely based on user counts). See how your favorites stack up. You can also use the map to find new areas to explore with your marketing efforts. There could be entire "countries" out there you didn't know existed.

click image for larger view
Click here for Super Large Map

Here's the original source

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Purdue Pharma Fighting Pharmacy Crime with Twitter

Dan Limbach

Pharmceutical companies have been using social media for branding and tapping into the buzz about their company and its products. Purdue Pharma is using Twitter to help fight crime at the local pharmacy level with its just-released RxPATROL(r) Twitter feed to assist its website.

When criminals steal from pharmacies, it affects the pharmacy, the drug company, and the patient. Twitter's immediate style of communication could help identify criminals and help prevent crimes in the future. The feed will provide information on recent crimes, as well as tips on how to reduce crimes at pharmacies.

click on image for full size
 Read the source article

Monday, September 20, 2010

Attitude, Inspiration, and Your Health

Dan Limbach

How important is attitude and inspiration to health? I've never seen a better story about taking personal responsibility for one's health and happiness.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Screens of the (near) Future for Better Patient Care

Dan Limbach

Those of us who were around when computer screens were black with green text (and only text) have seen screen technology come a long way. Now we have 24" flat screen LCD screens with resolutions we could only dream of back then. Look what ideas are possibly in store for us in the next wave.

This video shows possible applications using new screen technologies. How about an iPhone you can stretch to make the screen area larger? How about a digital mirror in your bathroom that provides any information feed we desire? How about new ways we can collaborate by dragging information and visuals from my screen to yours?

There are plenty of possibilities where these ideas could be used in the life sciences. Patients could get reminders from their mirror display to take their medicine after they are done brushing their teeth. Pharmacies could move animated prescription guidelines and complete PI content to the consumer's device when they pick up their prescription. Patient diaries could be much easier and more portable for logging more accurate information. And it could be transferred to the study team with ease.

What ideas do you have? Let's see some comments.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don Draper Closes Gap in New Media

Dan Limbach

The Internet started out as a research tool (ARPANET), morphed into a hobbyist/geek/artist playplace, and eventually became the juggernaut we have today. As the commercial applications began to blossom, New Media agencies began to sprout up all over to meet the needs of a tech-hungry business culture. The Old Guard agencies were stuck in the "Mad Men" era, and weren't in tune with digital technology. So they say.

ADWEEK features an article about how the gap between new media agencies and traditional agencies has narrowed. Marketing on the Internet has become less about Flash ads and building websites using the latest technologies, and more about getting people to talk about a product/company using the social tools of the Internet.

Go wide, not deep.

Agencies no longer need the deep tech chops that used to be required to create a complex company website. They need to know how to leverage the wide variety of new tools and encourage other people to use these tools and talk up their clients' products. Any online campaign worth its salt includes a strategy for Facebook, Twitter, and a blogging platform such as Blogger or Wordpress. Select YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and other social tools as side dishes. Add an analytical tool for dessert and you've got quite a meal. None of these tools requires a Ph.D. in technology or a battalion of programmers banging out code 24/7.

A video uploaded to YouTube that goes viral (via email, Facebook and Twitter) can reach more people in a month than the company's website may reach in a year. Think about the ROI of that for a bit.

Marketing on the web has become less about coding and more about facilitating conversations. While technology skill will always be needed in agencies, we've actually come full circle in some ways. Don Draper is probably smiling.

Read the ADWEEK article

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

20 Greatest Social Media Campaigns - Where's Healthcare?

Dan Limbach

We've all seen buzzworthy advertising campaigns. We talk about them at the water cooler. We email them to friends. We Twitter them. As marketers, we revere them. But how come there are no blockbuster campaigns in the life sciences? Social media success and a word of mouth bonanza is not just for glamorous, hip products. If a blender company can do it, an office supplies company can do it, and a bottled water company can do it, why can't a life sciences company do it, too?

The Nasonex bee is kind of fun and creative, but definitely not buzzworthy. ED ads dance around the edges of being clever while not embarrasing, and some of the non-prescription ED ads are somewhat humorous, but they don't provide that magnificent boost we see in the best word of mouth campaigns. Why is this?

Just because an industry is regulated, doesn't mean it's taboo to create innovative campaigns that spread like wildfire. Buzzworthy campaigns do not rely primarily on ad spend. In some ways, huge ad budgets are viewed as the lazy way out. Without a doubt, word of mouth provides the most bang for your marketing buck.

Forbes recently posted a list of "Best-Ever Social Media Campaigns." While some campaigns are recent, others date back to the 90's. I'll bet you will still recall at least half of them. Some campaigns fall more under viral marketing, as they came before the social media explosion, but it's all part of the same general arena. We just have more ways to spread the word now.

Here is the list. Cut to the link below for imagery and a brief explanation of each campaign, including some jaw-dropping ROI stats.

1. The Blair Witch Project (Haxan Films)
2. Will it Blend (BlendTec) -- my personal favorite - pure simple genius
3. Smell Like a Man, Man (Old Spice)
4. Sunservient Chicken (Burger King)
5. Pepsi Refresh (Pepsi)
6. Fun Theory (VW)
7. Elf Yourself (OfficeMax) -- I personally used this one
8. Roller Babies (Evian)
9. Facebook Showroom (IKEA)
10. Hotmail (now under Microsoft)
11. Whopper Sacrifice (Burger King)
12. Bullseye Gives (Target)
13. Vitaminwater (Glaceau)
14. Tea Par-tay (Smirnoff)
15. Why So Serious? (The Dark Knight Movie)
16. Dynamite Surfing (Quiksilver)
17. Cadbury Gorilla (Cadbury Schweppes)
18. 1 Series Graffiti Contest (BMW)
19. Bing/Farmville (Microsoft)
20. Monk-e-Mail (CareerBuilder)

See full slide show with details on

Monday, August 16, 2010

Avoiding Social Media Backlash

Dan Limbach

Social media can be good and bad for brands. Everything is more transparent. Word travels faster. Having a social media strategy does not mean it will work. (Is that a big "duh" or what?) Here's a nice article about strategy and avoiding backlash in social media channels. Motrin is one of the examples cited.

Let me clear up front: If you are going to use social media, you absetively should have a strategy driving your efforts. Totally.

But simply creating a social media strategy and executing it doesn’t mean you are using social media correctly. I can create a blogging strategy for your company and tell you exactly what to do, but that still doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful blog. You still have to follow-through.

Having a strategy isn’t enough, you still have to BE social. You still have to WANT to connect with your customers.

So many companies today are resistant to communicating with their customers. I think in most cases, it’s simply because they never have, and really don’t know how to get started.

But many companies fear blogs and social media because they fear that their customers will say bad things about them. Or worse, that there will be a social media backlash against their brand.

Folks, social media backlashes don’t just happen, they are created. Let’s look at a few examples:
Read full article

Article by Mack Collier

Thursday, August 12, 2010

iPad for Pharma

Dan Limbach

OK. So the iPad is cool. It is selling like hotcakes (or maybe IHOP and Denny's wished hotcakes sold like iPads). Is it a good platform for pharma? Here's a roundup of some of the better recent articles on the subject.

Otsuka Dives Into iPad

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. said it will buy 1,300 Apple Inc. iPads for its sales representatives in Japan to market the company’s medicines.

Read full article

John Mack ponders whether Pharma is embracing or resisting the iPad for sales reps.

Read full article

Motorola Inc, maker of the Droid smartphone, is planning to release a tablet computer based on Google Inc’s Android software to challenge Apple Inc’s iPad, according to two people familiar with the plan.

Dan here: The open nature of the Android OS makes it an attractive package for developing custom apps. While the iPad will always have an adge on the "hip" factor, an Andriod-based pad could become a major competitor to the iPad for business use.

Read full article

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

If the SEC and the Red Cross Can Do It

Dan Limbach

Can Life Sciences companies leverage social media like other organizations? Some say "Our industry is too regulated. We don't have the resources. Social media is for the younger folks. It's just a fad." Nonsense. But if the top brass is not on board, social media is indeed tough to make work for your copmpany.

I just read a great article by Merritt Colaizzi about how leaders at the SEC and the Red Cross are getting their organizations behind the social media phenomenon, and using it media to move the needle. And boy, does it ever move. Below is an excerpt from a July breakfast conference held in Washington D.C..

Have a vision. Instead of getting mired in platforms, tactics and details, Story suggests communicating what your big-picture goal is by using the language of the higher-ups in your organization. Think of this as a reverse engineering of your social-media strategy, he says.

Make sure everyone internally knows about it. Harman says the single thing that’s made the most difference in securing organizational buy-in and holding management’s attention at the Red Cross is a simple daily social-media update e-mail that includes 10 to 20 quotes of what people are saying about them — both positive and negative. Harman started this practice for her own discipline — to make sure she was listening to and reading everything folks were saying each day — and now the e-mail is read daily by 400 members of management, staff and volunteers each day.
This kind of “ambient awareness” is a way for everyone across the Red Cross to know what’s going on. (I don’t know about you, but we’re starting this practice at SmartBrief today!)

Renovate your top-down communications. Instead of laying down the law, offer positive guidance and encourage your employees to be out there on the social Web, saying the kids of things you hope they will say. Harman suggested messaging along the lines of, “We’d love it if you did these four things on a daily basis.”

Deal with naysayers up front. Levit suggested sitting down with skeptics for proactive conversations with them, emphasizing how social media can make their lives easier and asking what you can do to help get their jobs done. Sometimes it’s necessary to hold people’s hands a bit through the transformation period.

Host training sessions for your team. Our panelists delivered invaluable advice for educating your colleagues about social media.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Facebook Passes 500 million Users

Dan Limbach

If you still think social media is not ready for prime time, think again. Its uses for personal and business applications is clear. Is your company using Facebook? Assume your clients are - and your prospects - and your competitors.

Click Here to see Diane Sawyer interview Facebook's founder at his HQ.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Real ads the wouldn't fly today

Dan Limbach

Pharma advertising is among the most regulated of any industry. Here's a look at some vintage ads that would likely never see the light of day in current times.

See 41 inexplicable ads from days gone by. Click here to see more Vintage Advertising.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Google Search Works: Not for the Dainty

Dan Limbach

Google search is a mysterious black box that processes queries and spits out results - 300 million times a day and to the tune of $20 billion a year. Nobody outside Google knows exactly how it works, but this is as good a schematic as you'll find.

(Click on above image twice for a larger size)

Click here to see the original source of the schematic, at PPCBlog. Nice work, folks!

The A to Z of Marketing Technology: What Every Healthcare Professional Needs to Know

Robin Robinson

Ever wonder what the difference is between a DROID and a Palm, and which would work best for you?

Do you need an iPad, or just an iPhone? How about wifitti, or Aerva? Do you know how to use it in your marketing efforts? Marketing technology is advancing faster than we can keep up with, and although there’s no doubt that these tools can be used to easily reach prospective clients, I hear a lot of people asking, but how? For example, should you be using HTML5 (think hyped up FLASH in a browser) on your website, or QR code in your ads (to open a web page or other information in the phone's browser by using a camera phone to take a picture of it). These are great fun, but how can they be used for commercial strategy? With all the innovations being announced every day, it is difficult to know which are important for us professionally.

Looking for Answers?

If you are looking for answers to these and other burning technology-related questions, you should attend The A to Z of Marketing Technology: What Every Healthcare Professional Needs to Know, an event scheduled for July 15th at Cramer. I plan to go and find out exactly what a QR Tag is and how to apply it to healthcare. I also want to discover the benefits of the DROID compared with my common Blackberry. Liz Kay at Cramer tells me the event is designed to take the mystery out of some of the technologies that we’ve all been hearing about and we’ll get a chance to see how they work, pick them up, and hear how they apply to healthcare. All of which will be great background for my upcoming article for the October issue of PharmaVOICE on the application of consumer-centric technologies in the life-sciences space.

Darren Ross, Executive VP of Solutions at Cramer, and Paulo Machado, President of Health Innovation Partners, will be leading a discussion on healthcare and technologies. For more information about this HBA Boston event, visit

Hope to see you there!

Event Date:
Thursday, July 15, 2010

425 University Avenue
Norwood, MA 02062

5:00 – 6:00pm Registration Open
6:20 – 7:00pm Healthcare Technology Discussion
5:00 – 9:00pm: Tabletop Displays
Summer hors d'oeuvres
Cold beverages, beer and wine will be served

Monday, June 28, 2010

How To Delete Your Accounts on Popular Websites

Dan Limbach

So you want to delete your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account. It should be easy, right? Not exactly. Here's an excellent overview of how to delete your account on 14 popular sites/services. 

This article rates each website from 1 (easy to delete) to 5 (hard to delete). There is even one site (Wikipedia) that rates an "impossible to delete."

We all have an increasing number of sites and online services we’re members of, and sometimes it all gets a little overwhelming. At times, we just need to delete our memberships to some sites, either in an effort to simplify our lives or just because we’ve grown tired of a particular site or service.

What we often don’t realize when signing up for all these accounts, though, is how difficult it can be to permanently delete our accounts when we’ve had enough. Some require complicated, multi-step processes that can stretch over the course of days (or weeks). Others take less time, but still require multiple steps by the user.
Click here to read the entire article.

Cameron Chapman is the author of this article.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Top 5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes

Dan Limbach

Business Week outlines 5 major mistakes companies make in their social media efforts. I've excerpted portions of the article here. I've also added my own thoughts where noted.

1. Not (or Barely) Monitoring: Companies that do not first "listen" and observe how their evangelists and detractors talk about their brand risk jumping into a cyclone of unanticipated activity. Constant monitoring is a must.

Even a well-liked Internet brand can fall victim to lack of social media monitoring. In 2009, hackers exploited a vulnerability in online retailer's (AMZN) site, causing all books by GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) authors to disappear. Over the course of a weekend, thousands of consumers on Twitter, Facebook, and forums voiced their concern, suspecting that Amazon had made the authors unavailable deliberately. Two days later, when Amazon made an attempt to explain the glitch, people on Twitter already had created a hashtag further ridiculing the company's ineptitude.

Dan's take: If you wait too long to get involved in the social conversation after an issue spikes, you will have no shot at addressing the issue and protecting your company's viewpoint. A non-response is often perceived as a lack of interest in the conversation. "No comment," intentionally or unintentionally, rarely ever works out for a company under fire, as BP found out in the first couple weeks of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill debacle. They never gave themselves a chance to earn some early credibility and participate in the discussion from the beginning.

2. "Down-sourcing" to Interns or Junior Staff: The fresh, young digital natives at your company embody a crucial resource in helping to navigate the emerging media waters. In some cases, however, their lack of business experience could imperil your brand's "social voice."

Recently, Nestlé's (NESN) Facebook page erupted in a flame war when Greenpeace staged a protest of the chocolate maker's alleged use of palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia. The "official" posts in response to comments were overly flippant and defensive, which only fueled the firestorm.

Dan's take: Junior staff may know how to use social media better than seasoned staff, but they may lack the experience and diplomacy to deal with an issue properly. Why not pair up a junior staffer with a senior staffer and let them help each other?

3. Fast Beats Perfect: In the digital world, content can spread like wildfire. Immediate, authentic, and humble acknowledgements of your brand's social media kerfuffles are not only necessary but also expected. Taking the time to craft a perfect corporate response with layers of bureaucratic approvals will only cause more damage to your brand's social reputation.

In a matter of days, the now infamous Domino's YouTube video, in which employees did some highly unappetizing things to the chain's food, erupted into a full-fledged crisis. Although the chief executive officer provided a video statement/response, some felt the company's reply took far too long. (The company has since redeemed itself with its highly successful Pizza Turnaround campaign.)

Dan's take: In social media, speed trumps perfection every time. When you only have a short time to get into the conversation, you can't get bogged down by three layers of approvals before something can be posted. Your company's social media policy should be posted where any employee can find it, and should be written in language that is clear and easy to understand. You have a company social media policy, right?

4. Faking It: If you've failed to foster and energize a legitimate set of brand evangelists, don't attempt to disguise false engagement by having employees pretend to be customers (known as "astroturfing"). It will most certainly be found out.

Earlier this year, speculation was that Wal-Mart's (WMT) local Chicago PR agency was behind a fake community support group commenting on blogs in favor of the retail store coming to town.

Dan's take: You know what they say... "You can't fool all of the people all of the time." The savvy folks in the net can smell a rat, and they will out you immediately when you are caught. Don't take a chance - it will only add gasoline to the fire of any controversy and erode your credibility.

5. Having an "Off" Switch: Your brand's involvement in social media should never have an end date, since at its core, that involvement is about nurturing customer relationships. While campaigns that have a social media extension may come and go, you must maintain an "always on" approach and outlook.

TGI Friday's September 2009 cross-channel campaign reached its goal of winning 500,000 fans of fictional character "Woody" on Facebook. In fact, it got close to 1 million fans. TGI Friday's ended the campaign and deleted the Facebook page without those fans converting to TGI Friday's official Facebook page, losing all the social capital built up over the course of the campaign.

Dan's take: Social media efforts never end. Rather than treating social media as a form of "Damage control," think of it as a way to build credibility so if something controversial surfaces, you already have fans who will back you up and help you get through a crisis.

As we're still in somewhat of a nascent period in social media marketing, brands will inevitably make mistakes and learn from them along the way. This learning process is exciting and offers marketers some unique opportunities to connect directly with consumers.

At the end of the day, brands must earn their "social currency." There are no shortcuts or substitutes to authentic engagement in the realm of social media.

Mike Proulx was the author of the Business Week article. He leads digital strategy for Hill Holliday, an ad agency in Boston.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some observations about DIA 2010

Dan Limbach

DIA continues to be the largest conference in the drug industry. Washington D.C. was a gracious host to the 2010 event.

1) I heard several attendance numbers, and the consensus was that attendance was down from 2009. Budget cuts are certainly responsible for some of the decline.

2) Session attendance was very good. Our Managing Editor tells us many of the sessions she attended were packed, and some sessions had to turn away would-be attendees. So while companies may have sent fewer people to the conference this year, the attendees took full advantage of the educational opportunities.

3) Optimism has returned after a “desperate” 2009. Last year, the motto regarding revenue was “Flat is the new up.” There were a large number of people in 2009 who didn’t know if they would have jobs from one month to the next, so quite a few conversations focused on career issues rather than business issues. 2010 had much less of a “Doom and Gloom” vibe.

4) Conversations were deeper and more forward moving this year. While economic factors still weigh heavy and many budgets remain tight, it seems as though more deals are being made now. This may indicate we’re moving out of survival mode and back into growth mode.

5) Smart companies are revving up their marketing engines to establish strong positions in their space. While doing more with less is still necessary, the need to brand your company and market products and services is more important than ever.

6) Networking and fun were as prevalent as ever. There were numerous entertaining activities after the show closed each day. From the DIA Networking Reception, to the massive Transperfect and UBC parties, group dinners, and numerous other receptions, good times were not difficult to find.

7) People are already talking about DIA 2011 in Chicago. The Windy City should once again be a magnificent host of the conference. We hope to see you all there. Until then, keep hustling.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kids Taking Fewer Health Risks Today vs. 90's

Dan Limbach

CDC report shows High School students take fewer health risks than students in the 1990's, with some exceptions.

Here is the post on the Freakonomics blog.

Here is the CDC report.

Smoking is way down. Risky sex, suicide, and drinking is down. Helmet and seat belt use is better. Unfortunately, High School kids today are worse in reference to obesity, asthma, exercise, and using suncreen.

Dozens of additional behaviors are compared in the study, including bullying, school fights, eating habits, dating violence, and more.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Track Social Media for Your Company

Dan Limbach

Are people talking about your business or its people using Social Media? How would you even know?

The list of social media tools is long - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Forums, etc. But the list of ways to track them is possibly even longer.

Check out this list of Social Media Monitoring Solutions.

Some are tailored for one type of social media, like blogs (Google Blogsearch, Technorati). Some social media tools have their own monitoring capabilities (Facebook, Twitter). And still others track social media activities across multiple media (Radian6, ScoutLabs).

Some tools are free, while others require a monthly fee. In general, the free tools are more limiting, but can still be good for basic needs. The paid tools are more robust, typically have a longer learning curve, and, well, aren't free.

I recommend getting your feet wet with a few free tools before evaluating the paid tools. This experience will help you make a more informed choice when you are ready for an all-inclusive service.

When you use these tools, don't just monitor your company name. Monitor your CEO, your key thought leaders, and people in your organization who are active in social media. And don't forget to run searches on your competitors. It may be clear who is embracing social media and who is avoiding it. This could uncover an opportunity for your company to become a leader in using social media in your market space.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The HeLa Factory

Denise Myshko

This is a story about immortality, research, and new breakthrough therapies. This is a story about profit and exploitation.

This is a story about ethics, informed consent, and the control each of us has over our own cells. This is the story of HeLa, the cells taken from Henrietta Lacks, without her knowledge or consent.
This story is told in a book published earlier this year by Rebecca Skloot. It’s a complicated story about the ethics of human research and what researchers and companies owe those who participate. It’s about the role of minorities in research, especially during the time of the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. (Check out the article on Clinical Trial Diversity in the June 2010 issue of PharmaVOICE.)
HeLa are the first immortal cells grown in culture — and then later cloned. They are still alive today, more than 60 years after Henrietta’s death. They were vital for developing the polio vaccine, they led to advances in in vitro fertilization, and they helped researchers understand cancer and viruses.
Modern drug research owes much to the HeLa cells. It was the culturing method and the standardization of that method developed by those at Johns Hopkins in the early 1950s that led to the ability to replicate cells. And it was the HeLa cells that enabled researchers to do work that would have been impossible to do in humans. HeLa helped to advance cell cloning, stem cell isolation, and even human genetics. Henrietta’s cells have led to the birth of several industries, including cell production and manufacturing.
Yet Henrietta and her family, poor Southern tobacco farmers, were unaware that her cells were used for research, and they have received no part of the profit that many companies have made over the years. And few people beyond Johns Hopkins knew of Henrietta or the HeLa cells.
I had some down time recently thanks to a computer crash and picked up “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which tells the entire story — through the eyes of Henrietta and her family — of how these cells came to become immortal. Ms. Skloot tells the story of the researchers and the family of Henrietta through interviews, medical records, and journal entries. Ms. Skloot’s book brings to life the people behind the research, something we don’t often think about when we open that prescription bottle.

To learn more about the book, visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Looking Forward to Hearing Bestseller Dan Heath at PMRG's Annual Conference on Monday

Marah Walsh

In the bestseller book “Made to Stick,” Dan and Chip Heath, discuss why some ideas thrive while others die.

Now in their new book, “Switch,” they discuss how the two parts of our mind, the rational part and the emotional part, make it hard to create lasting change in our companies, our communities, and ourselves.

Sometimes getting past an immense hurdle requires only a simple change, which in turn makes all the difference in our ability to maintain the change. And the result is often transformational, if the examples in the book are any indication. How many ways could your organization benefit from a retooling of “Business as usual?”

I will be attending the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group (PMRG) Annual Conference March 21-23 in Orlando. Dan Heath is the Monday Keynote Speaker, relating his research findings and ideas on change to our industry. I’ll be there looking to generate a few transformational ideas of our own during the talk. If you don’t see me there, make sure you stop by to say hello in the Media Lounge. Hope to see you at PMRG!

Learn more about the PMRG 2010 National Conference!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top Uses of Social Media for Business

Dan Limbach

You've all heard about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and many other popular social media tools. But do you use it in your work? Here is a list of things social media does well for businesses.

Brand Stewardship – it’s not possible to control the conversation about your brand, but you can participate in the conversation. By being a good listener, responding with understanding, and providing helpful information, a company can build a stronger bond between the customer base and the brand. Knowing you are listening, you care, and you help solve problems goes a long way toward establishing fierce brand loyalty.

Customer Service – real-time customer feedback gives you a chance to provide immediate support if there is a customer concern. And if the issue affects many people, such as a bug in a software program or a dislike of a product package, social media really stands out because it can reach an entire community of followers instantly.

Recruiting – the inherent nature of social media makes it ideal for recruiting employees. It works best if you have a decent following (i.e. Twitter followers, Facebook friends/fans, YouTube subscribers, etc.). Recruiters will often say the best recruits are those not looking for a job. But through social networking, the perfect hire might be intrigued by a job that a friend passed along through social networking.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Google Chrome Aims for Your Desktop

Dan Limbach

Microsoft has dominated the desktop software landscape for decades. While they have given up some ground in the server market to Linux, they are still nearly ubiquitous on the desktop. Google would love to change all that.

They have a new browser called Chrome that is much faster than Internet Explorer, at least from my experience. Chrome OS is a logical extension beyond the browser, and takes aim at the Microsoft Windows franchise. And like most offerings from Google, they are free. If computing in the workspace has become mostly about connecting to the Internet, efficient collaboration, and mobile computing, Chrome may be the Next Big Thing.
If the thought of giving up Microsoft Office makes you queasy, Google Docs has apps compatible with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Need email? There's a Google app for that. A calendar with a task list? Yessiree.

Does Google provide a perfect solution to all your needs? No. You'll have to get used to working a bit differently. But "Free" overcomes a lot of objections. Do the math. How much does it cost every few years to buy MS Office at $300 - $500 per seat? How much IT support is required to maintain the OS and Office software on an annual basis?

If anyone can put a dent in the Microsoft lock on the desktop, it’s Google. Your next computer just might be a sub-$300 netbook running ChromeOS and accessing Google Docs.

Check out this slick and witty independent video on the Chrome browser and Chrome OS.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Web Seminar - Driving Site Performance: The Investigator Perspective

Dan Limbach

Join us on March 25, 2010 at 10am EDT for our next WebLinx Web Seminar. Brought to you by PharmaVOICE and sponsored bt Firecrest Clinical. I will be moderating the web seminar, and I invite you to come ready with questions for our expert panelists.

A combination of innovative training, site performance support, monitoring tools and communications solutions drives:
  • Improved compliance
  • Improved patient recruitment and retention
  • Reduced protocol deviations and data queries
  • Greater adherence to study timelines
What does it mean for pharmaceutical companies who haven’t yet embraced the future of the industry?
More info
Register Now

Key Take Aways
  • Insights into the value of online protocol training versus traditional Investigator Meetings
  • Guidance on how to optimize site performance
  • Key information on facilitating global communication
  • How and why to consolidate study documentation
  • A vision for the future of clinical study management
Who Should Attend
  • International Clinical Trial Managers
  • Clinical Project Leaders
  • Clinical Operations Managers
  • Study Monitoring Managers
  • Clinical Outsourcing Managers
  • Medical Directors
Why You Should Attend
  • To discover innovative means of driving site performance across global studies
  • Develop alternative strategies to traditional investigator meeting model

Prof. Brendan M. Buckley, MD, MSc, DPhil, FRCPI
Founder & Director of Medical Affairs
Firecrest Clinical

Nigel Hughes, BSc (Pharm)
Founder & Director
Firecrest Clinical

More info
Register Now