By Arun Sudhaman
Novartis is aiming to appoint a handful of agencies to a new global roster, as part of a major rethink of the Swiss' pharma giant's social media strategy.
The company is asking for agency submissions in response to a wide-ranging RFI, with the eventual goal of appointing three to four agencies to a roster that will oversee digital and social media strategy and tactics.
The RFI explains that Novartis is hoping to better understand its patients through a more sophisticated use of social channels.
"Social media is enabling people all over the world to collaborate and share thoughts, insights, experiences and perspectives. Better understanding and execution in this 'new' media provides Novartis another channel to engage and better understand the needs of the patients which will help Novartis to develop solutions which will improve patient outcomes."
The RFI adds that Novartis is aiming to improve its current social media skill set by "partnering with strategic experts in this arena."
Around eight to 10 agencies will be issued with an RFP, prior to pitching at the company's global HQ in the Swiss city of Basel at the end of June.
In particular, the RFI seeks a full description of an agency's social media capabilities including strengths, prior experience, sector-specific insight and external awards. The document also asks agencies to list the "depth of personal experience" that its employees have in the social media space, and the extent of its "interaction" in social media.
A specific section asks agencies to explain the methodology and metrics by which they determine social media ROI. Several questions seek information about an agency's specific approach to social media strategy, both in general and with reference to the pharma sector.
The RFI also asks for a description of an agency's global capabilities, and its experience of providing social media advice to multinational corporations.
Novartis currently counts relationships with a number of PR networks, including Ogilvy PR, Ruder Finn and Hill & Knowlton.