Paul Holmes 25 Apr 2012 // 10:24AM GMT
The pharmaceutical company behavior described in this article, which involves resizing and rebranding a drug without any substantial changes, purely to make it difficult or impossible for a less expensive, generic version to come to market, is the height of corporate irresponsibility and one of the reasons people don’t trust the pharma industry. Unfortunately, the price individual pharma companies pay for this kind of sleazy behavior is pretty minimal—at least for now. But here’s a prediction: at some point a patient group or a group of doctors or a legislator is going to get genuinely pissed off, and when that happens the company responsible is going to face a firestorm. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. For the sake of balance, this article looks at some of the good works the pharmaceutical industry is doing in the philanthropic arena. But philanthropy is not social responsibility. Nice interview with P&G chief marketing officer Marc Pritchard at Brand Republic, in which he discusses the nexus of social media and traditional public relations and the ability of one to amplify the other; social media metrics; sustainability (and criticism of P&G’s record); and corporate culture. The Policyshop blog has an interesting piece on the use of soft power to influence corporate behavior, focusing on Apple and Foxconn: “Assuming that Foxconn does keep its promises, this will stand as another example of how ‘soft’ power can influence corporate behavior,” writes David Callahan. “In an age where a strong brand is seen as all-important to the bottom line, corporations are obsessively worried about anything that will tarnish their brands. That fear provides substantial leverage for activists and others.” Not sure about the obsessively worried part—some companies are still stubbornly blind to the threat or the potential—but he’s right about everything else. The Guardian’s Greenslade Blog asked its readers “Have you ever been lied to by a PR?” The question followed a column in UK Press Gazette which asked the same not quite rhetorical question. In general, I think that (a) PR people care far too much about what journalists think and (b) I’d guess that journalists lie to PR people a lot more frequently than PR people lie to journalists. In any event, while I like Gini Dietrich’s blog and mostly agree with her commentary, I think she’s completely wrong when she responds to the above with the suggestion that “It’s time to regulate the industry. It looks to be the only way we can manage our own reputations.” Nice article from the FT on corporate social responsibility in India, as the country forges ahead with plans to make CSR reporting mandatory. “India’s ferocious media culture, rising environmental consciousness and powerful anti-corruption campaigns have also played a role, creating a background against which corporate social irresponsibility is much less acceptable.” This story focuses on an ill-advised tweet by a young PR person about a journalist and makes much of the resulting “humiliation.” But read the story and tell me who you think behaved worse. The PR person made an error in judgment, and admitted it. But the reporter in question is quite clearly a self-important bully.