VIVA! catches up with DigiPharm Australia 2011 speaker, Will Collie, Senior Manager of External Affairs, Sanofi Australia & New Zealand

The whole premise of social media is about engaging people and promoting two-way dialogue, which is what PR and communications professionals have been doing well for years, says Sanofi Australia & New Zealand’s Will Collie.

Having worked across traditional and digital media public relations campaigns in consumer healthcare, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, Senior Manager of External Affairs, Mr Collie, has 10 years experience developing award-winning health campaigns for in-house and agency organisations.

“Unlike advertising and digital media specialists, PR and communications professionals specialising in healthcare are uniquely positioned to develop and coordinate strategic social and digital media campaigns for pharma,” Mr Collie says.

“Much like any other pharma marketing program, industry professionals need to first define and justify the need and objectives for developing a social media campaign. If the decision is made to go ahead, the first step is to talk with your in-house communications team and then call a healthcare PR and communications agency.

“While social media campaigns currently constitute a very small part of broader pharmaceutical marketing programs, companies still need to be aware that such campaigns can often generate the biggest share of voice in the public arena,” says Mr Collie.

“Good PR professionals specialising in health are familiar with your target audience, the key opinion leaders, and most importantly, are up-to-date with the Code of Conduct with respect to both traditional and digital forms of media.

“With severe PBS-listing set-backs over the past 12 months, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide patients with access to medicines. Social and digital media programs can form part of a solution when Government knock-backs leave industry professionals feeling like there is nowhere else to go,” Mr Collie says.

“There has never been a more crucial time to consider digital and social media as part of a pharma public relations program.”

Will is presenting “Developing innovative healthcare communications solutions” at the Digital Pharma Marketing Australia 2011 conference in Sydney on Tuesday, November 29. Registrations are still open.