Politics, Sex, Religion, Medical Marketing

A trade publication in 2008 reported that greater than 60% of people in medical communications supported Obama. Working in the industry, you never would have known that. I think the situation may have been similar in the finance industry. A lot of people supported Obama, but few spoke of it. To my memory, no one spoke of it. Except perhaps in anonymous surveys conducted by trade publications.

There may have been outspoken CEOs somewhere in medical communications whose sentiments were thinly veiled, and whose employees thus had little doubt where the leadership stood. But for almost 2 years prior to the 2008 election, every quarterly all-staff meeting, where the finances of my little division of a publicly owned holding company were the subject of transparent revelation, was an exercise in reading between the lines. Where did the account executives stand? Where did the business unit president stand? For that matter, where did the new traffic intern stand? It wasn’t discussed. It was, perhaps, how our leadership wanted employees to present their political sensibilities to clients–that is, not at all.

And like Wall Street, support for Obama among pharma seemed strong in 2008, again as reported by anonymous surveys published in trade publications. When it became apparent that healthcare reform would not interfere with pharma income streams, and may possibly contribute to them, the entire pharmaceutical universe seemed to align with Obama’s gravitational pull, with the notable exception of a few disproportionately loud and disgruntled healthcare providers. Even then, the AMA and other groups seemed to fall in line–to surrender to the spell of this new public figure, whose popularity grew with obvious intensity and sense of inevitability.

And yet, no one said it within my earshot: “I’m voting for Obama.”

After 4 years of advances in medical marketing and the tools of medical marketing, it’s obvious that the situation hasn’t changed. Like sex and religion, politics is not discussed in polite medical marketing circles in 2012, any more than it was discussed in 2008. The Republicans meet in Tampa, the Democrats meet in Charlotte, and tweets from medical marketing gurus relate to the anatomy of the Barbie doll, the use of Bing, Klout scores, and thanking people for follows and RTs.

As former editor-in-chief of a trade publication, I once was invited to attend a meeting convened by a major specialty organization. It was the mid- to early ’90s, and all the Web gurus were there, as various groups at the time were investing in building Web sites. The discussion centered on how these groups might work together. After a time, I said what seemed apparent to me: “So what we’re saying is that everyone is going to build a list that links to everyone else.”

That drew a laugh, because everyone knew that everyone else had very little content to share (except, perhaps, my publication), and what content they had was proprietary or of very little use to those outside their own little groups, and offering access to just anyone with a URL was, well, at best not advisable and in many cases simply ridiculous.

That’s sort of where medical marketing is right now: Developing neat interactions, ingenious tools, amazing digital Swiss army knives that allow all kinds of linking to each other–but what can you find of real value, worth saying, worth offering? Like which political party does the medical community support, and why?

I have a feeling the percentages are a little different this year than in 2008. But those figures represent content I’d like to find, supported by facts I’d like to know and confirm and write about and RT, with thanks. Straightforwardly. In a manner unlikely to piss off a client no matter who wins the election.

As for sex and religion, maybe in 2016?

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About Keith Croes

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Posted on September 10, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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