Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Accenture, as if Tiger Woods Were Never There
How do you Tiger-proof an entire corporation? At Accenture, you start by telling employees to tear down all the posters that say, now somewhat awkwardly, that “we know what it takes to be a Tiger.”

For six years, Tiger Woods was the advertising face for Accenture, the big consulting firm. But now that Mr. Woods has confessed to infidelities amid an assault of media coverage, Accenture wants him to disappear.

On Sunday, hours after Accenture ended its sponsorship deal, the golfer’s face was replaced by an anonymous skier on the company’s home page. His name was scrubbed almost completely from the rest of the Web site. The company’s advertising campaign is about “high performance,” and Mr. Woods “just wasn’t a metaphor for high performance anymore,” a
spokesman for Accenture, Fred Hawrysh, said.

By Monday afternoon, Accenture staffers had swept through the company’s New York office and removed any visible Tiger posters. The next day, marketing and communications employees around the world were asked to turn in any remaining Tiger-emblazoned posters and other materials. Accenture marketing employees did not respond to requests for comment about the Tiger purge on Wednesday.

Accenture said it did not tell all of its 177,000 worldwide employees to toss their Tiger T-shirts, caps and tchotchkes away. But when asked about branded merchandise, Mr. Hawrysh said, “Our intention is to ensure we are no longer using it internally or externally.”

But it takes time to erase the golfer’s identity completely. Accenture spent $50 million on advertising in the United States last year, and Mr. Woods appeared in 83 percent of the company’s ads — far more than for any of his other major sponsors — according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The remaining billboards and ads, now outdated, inspire smirks and jokes. In ads at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, Tiger is seen crouching on the green, studying a golf ball’s trajectory and endorsing outsourcing. In Atlanta, he is posed as The Thinker, adorned with a Nike hat, promoting management consulting. At Dulles International outside Washington, he is peering into the distance, dark clouds on the horizon. That ad, forebodingly, says it is “tougher than ever to be a Tiger.”

“The Accenture ads with Tiger finally make sense,” Quentin George, the chief digital officer for Interpublic Mediabrands, an advertising holding company, remarked on Twitter Wednesday.

Mr. Woods provided a big boost to Accenture when he became the company’s worldwide public face in 2003. At the time, the Accenture name was less than three years old, and was still regularly called by its old name, Andersen Consulting. The campaign’s initial theme was “Go on. Be a Tiger.”

Mr. Woods “was a powerful device for our advertising, there’s no doubt about it,” Mr. Hawrysh said. But as allegations of Mr. Woods’s extramarital affairs spread in recent weeks, the titan of golf was transformed into a distraction. In the early days of the media frenzy, Mr. Woods still greeted visitors to Accenture’s Web site next to the words, “It’s What You Do Next That Counts.” Then on Sunday, the company proclaimed that Mr. Woods was “no longer the right representative” for its advertising and began scrubbing his name and face away.

On Tuesday, that meant telling staff members in an e-mail message to review their sales pitches and slide shows to ensure that they “no longer include Tiger Woods.” In New York, employees were asked to bring posters and other physical assets to the company’s front desk for disposal. The company would not comment on exactly how they would be disposed of.

They may be trying to avoid having the materials recast as collectors’ items. Already, some Accenture magazine ads and memorabilia, including an Accenture Match Play Tiger Woods Caddy Bib, are on eBay (Asking price for the bib: $175.)

Mr. Woods’s private life remains a daily topic on TV talk shows and Web sites, but some of his sponsors, including Nike, have stayed by his side. Nike’s chairman, Phil Knight, told The Sports Business Journal last week that when Mr. Woods’s career “is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip.”

Accenture, however, is already preparing a new ad campaign. Jon Swallen, a senior vice president for research for TNS Media Intelligence, said it seemed notable that the consulting firm chose not to hide under a no-comment cloak or hire a new celebrity spokesman; instead, it separated from Mr. Woods publicly and swiftly.
“It struck me that they were taking him to the woodshed,” Mr. Swallen said.
With due courtesy - The New York Times

Monday, November 23, 2009

Relevance of social media for Doctors in India

It is important for doctors to market their service through all available tools/mediums and social media is one of the tools.
Here I have tried to list down various types of marketing tools used by healthcare professionals in the order of there importance:
  1. Word-of-mouth
  2. Public lectures or seminars
  3. Being a visiting consultant with more hospitals
  4. Featuring in media stories
  5. Websites
  6. Participating in free check-up camps
  7. Giving lectures at CMEs
  8. Social Media

The above comprehensive list gives a good amount of publicity for the doctors to portray their services to their customers (patients, media, doctors, etc). With the advent of new technology and informed patients it has become prerogative for doctors to address using new mediums and be connected with there patients.

Now looking this scenario from Indian context the doctors are quite bearish accepting these new mediums. They still think and believe in the traditional form of marketing i.e. Word-of-mouth. The new generation of doctors are to a large extent aware about new ways to market themselves.

Doctors now are aware about treating their patients, keeping a stock of disease awareness brochures in d clinic, are available on mobile and email, don’t mind debating with patients and updated with latest developments in d medical science field.

Social media through freely available there is investment of time and this will be managed by trained Social Media Optimisation (SMO) consultants.

The SMO creates and helps to design various templates like account on twitter, facebook, wordpress, linkedin, plaxo, connect doctors , etc. Also creating the doctors website and aligning with these different social networking platforms. All these platforms will then be used by doctor to inform his patients about his knowledge, case studies, booking of appointments, etc.

Below is a small eg to showcase how social media can become a boon for healthcare professionals and doctors, check out on -

Doctors do not know how to market themselves - Jagdeep Kapoor

Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt Limited On how doctors should market themselves

How can a doctor market himself, when advertising is prohibited for the medical community?
So what if doctors are not allowed to advertise themselves? Advertising is just a minor part of marketing, and there are various ways a doctor can market himself. I want to debunk the myth that marketing is unethical. Ethical marketing is permissible. Doctors can market themselves within the purview of the existing prohibition.

What brand mantras do you propagate, keeping in mind the restrictions?
We advocate simple and practical tips to doctors for improving their marketing skills. Firstly, we stress on relationship building with the patient, which we call relationship marketing. ‘Sambandh’ is better than ‘sab-bandh’. A doctor needs to build a personal relationship with the patient by making minor efforts like remembering the name of the patients, writing the name correctly and being polite to them.
Most doctors get irritated when simple piece of information is asked. They behave as if the patient is wasting his time, by asking him that question. A doctor must not treat the patient as an imbecile. These days most of the urban and educated patients before going to a doctor are aware of the nature of the disease, by dint of the internet. The patient should go back not with scare but with care.
Secondly, to build a big brand name use a small brand name. Research has shown that small brand names do better than interminably long names. If a doctor has a long name, which the patient cannot even pronounce, then the doctor needs to shorten his name. Same holds true for hospital and clinic name. Thirdly, the doctor needs to make himself visible. We hear of doctors who are good at work and practicing for decades, with not too many people knowing about him. This is because the doctor has not made a conscious effort to make himself known through word of mouth. This hurdle can be overcome by getting involved in social work. If a doctor participates in honorary work, then people come to know him and that is how he becomes more popular.
Lastly, intangible is as important as tangible. Show the patient that you care for him, by uttering encouraging words, and even patting him. Be sensitive and sympathetic while informing a patient about serious illness and when breaking the death news to relatives.

Can you give us an overview of Samsika Marketing Consultants?
The first strategic marketing consultancy in India, Samsika is the catalyst that helps corporations grow and make their mark in the market. The complexities of the marketplace are Samsika’s greatest challenges and to meet them, Samsika offers its exclusive service. Being the only specialist marketing strategy consultancy in the country, Samsika is fully equipped on all aspects of brand building, whether it is advertising or public relations, market or media research. The Samsika team works closely with clients, steering, guiding, advising and pushing the brand’s graph to an upward incline. Our brand mantras have been penned in three books- "24 Brand Mantras" and "Brand Serve-31 Customer Service Prescriptions" and "Brand Naamkaran".

Are Indian doctors more insensitive and curt, in comparison with their western counterpart?
We cannot generalise about Indian doctors. Even if Indian doctors are revered and given the status of demi-gods, they definitely do not know how to market themselves. At the reception, when patients enquire about the report, it is common practice that receptionists reply curtly. Some even say "What do you want the report immediately. How is that possible? You just gave your sample now." Why cannot the patient be replied politely? Why would the patient be made to feel undeserving, when he is paying such a hefty sum? Indian doctors need to come down from the pedestal that they seat, segregating themselves from the patient.

Has there been a change in the attitude of doctors over the years?
Yes, in the last two-three years there has been a positive change. A research conducted by Samsika which involved 1900 service providers from seven different industry in 2001-2002 reflects the change. It shows that customers are looking for care, world class treatment and sensitivity of the service provider. In healthcare, the change can be attributed to the emphasis shifting from cure to care.

Sourced from # expresshealthcaremgmt

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Corporate Signature Tunes

Most of the telecom companies have their own signature tunes so people identify and connect with the brand and its products. There are some other companies which tend to opt for signature tunes; they are from the music and film industry. Also it has been observed some design and advertising firms/companies have instrumental music for their websites which help to showcase creativity of the firm.

But, what about the rest of the companies, shouldn’t they opt for signature tunes?

Most of the private sector banks, private hospitals play classical music and hotels most often play fusion music on the other hand some offices play whatever music they feel like playing. The corporate sector lacks Signature Tune which will help to identify the brand amongst its stake holders.

Every corporate invests to create a profiling video of their own company, brochures and newsletters to inform about the company, but nobody cares to create signature tune.
The Signature Tune should be played during displaying of the corporate video, played in the background at the workplace, ring tone, waiting tone and caller tone of the phones (mobile/landline), website, TVCs, etc.

This will help to increase the brand awareness and everybody will connect with the brand easily. This has worked for telecom companies and can also work for brands in retail stores where there is consumer walk-in.

Signature Tunes will open a new field of advertising and connecting to the stakeholders.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

IIT – JEE Coaching institutes – History of the BRAND

In the recent years IIT-JEE coaching institutes has gained a lot of importance. 99% of students appearing for this competitive exam are coached at such institutes. There are more and more coaching institutes entering this arena coz of two important things high fees and quality education. IIT – JEE coaching is a more earning proposition than any other type of training. The fees charged by the top three institutes in India are in the range of Rs.1,10,000 to Rs.1,70,000 for the two year course. But a decade back nobody heard about rigorous training to prepare for these competitive exams.

Way back in the year 1990s a person called Vinod Kumar Bansal, grandson of a sweet seller in Jhansi, came to Kota to work as a mechanical engineer for JK Synthetics Ltd., a polyester plant that shut down in the late 1990s. Mr. Bansal started the coaching empire after he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 1974. In 1983, he met G.D. Agarwal, who ran a Mumbai–based IIT coaching institute. Mr. Bansal says he realized his students could also end up in the elite institutes. He began taking on students who wanted to ace the IIT exam. The trained students from his institute started landing courses in the top IIT institutes. Word of mouth spread fast and he got more students. This went on and he started creating records with maximum students passing the exams and many of his students getting in the top 100.

More than three lakh students take the test each year; around 5,500 are successful. Of the 3,000 students who took Bansal’s classes last year, 955 gained admission in an IIT. To enter Bansal’s classroom, Class 10 students must graduate with more than 75% marks in physics, chemistry and mathematics. Also the aspiring students must also sit for entrance exam devised by Bansal Classes.

Bansal’s coaching classes have spawned an imitative movement in Kota, a small town with a population of 1.5 million people, about 250 km form Jaipur. The industry now trains an estimated 50,000 youths each year in standardized medical and engineering exams. The most obvious economic impact has been the growth of the coaching industry itself, an estimated 130 coaching institutes now operates out of Kota. It is estimated that 40% of the IIT aspirants come from Kota every year and this trend is increasing.

Some of IIT coaching institutes also started exploring new cities citing the Kota connection. Most of IIT coaching institutes heavily advertise their Kota connection and this helps to get maximum admissions. The numbers of seats in IIT colleges has remained the same or have increased to some extent, but the numbers of students applying for these competitive exams have increased superseding. The total worth of the IIT coaching industry is more than Rs 10000 crore. Some of the institutes to advertise heavily:

So don't be surprised to see the tagline in the advertisements of IIT-JEE coaching institutes "an institute by Kota experts".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Importance of online information in healthcare

It is a growing need to have authentic information on healthcare available online for reference. As the educated population in India is increasing at a rapid rate, the usage on World Wide Web is also increasing by leaps and bounds. Especially the patients in the urban areas tend to surf online for doctors and treatments recommendation. The online space is also not regulated so a lot of un-useful and incorrect information is available.

In the Indian scenario following are the websites:
1. Medindia
2. eDoctor
3. Totalhealthcareinformation
4. Webhealthcentre

Of the mentioned websites Medindia is the biggest and the No. 1 in Asia having more than a lakh visitors every month. The medical websites offer information on current health news, news on research reports, diet information. These websites also offer BMI calculators, doctor reports database, online consultations, etc. With everything available online the consumer hardly has to visit doctors for follow-ups.

Also the healthcare industry has seen the growth in alternative medicine therapy and this has led to most consultants to create a web space of there own. The Homeopathic Consultants are the most tech savvy practitioners having most websites dedicated on Homeopathy. Most of the homeopathic doctors have online chat, payments, consultation incorporated in the website creating it as a ONE STOP SOLUTION.

Some of the websites on homeopathy are as follows:
1 e-homoeopathy
2 homeoambrosia
3 homeopathictreatment4u
4 homoeopathyforall
5 lifepositive
6 iheal

With the rise of social media the doctors have now become more tech savvy by having blogs, facebook and twitter accounts. A doctor in Chennai recently reported the whole OT procedure on twitter thus unveiling the new age of communications.

The healthcare industry has grown tremendously and this has led to the growth of the online content. The only and major issue with d websites is more than 90% of these websites don't have authentic information or managed by non medical professionals.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pharma companies need to open to MEDIA

As pharmacos get globalised and communication gets real-time, there is a need to communicate right information at the earliest and in a manner that would enhance the corporate brand image. But are pharmacos getting more media savvy? Nandini Patwardhan finds out.

Ask any media person about the pharma industry and one can hear monologues on how pharmaceutical companies are not parting with the necessary information. And this is not dependent on the size and type (domestic or MNC, big or small) of the player. Most Indian pharmaceutical companies do not have a well-established department for handling media queries and for them, interaction with the media is largely restricted to publishing annual results, or press releases on M&As, product launches and USFDA approvals. And those, who have well-established departments, are bound by archaic media-interaction policies and time delays.

However as Indian companies are transforming themselves for the global age, they are taking a fresh look at media management to create a sound and formidable corporate image.
"The last few years have seen pharmaceutical players, both Indian and global, to have initiated a process of keeping the channels of communications open with the media and are more open to share information regarding developments and plans," explains Aman Gupta, CEO of the Mumbai-based Imprimis Life PR, a public relations firm having a host of clients in the pharma and healthcare sectors. The same view is corroborated by others from the industry.
"The Indian pharma industry has grown rapidly and is today recognised for its capabilities throughout the world. Considering this fact, most of the pharma companies in India have realised the need to have a dedicated process and policy, relating to media interactions and hence, have constituted exclusive departments that are well equipped to interact with the media," explains Ch. Ram, Head, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.

However, there are still certain rules and regulations that govern media interactions of pharma companies, given the very nature of work carried out. With multiple concern areas, like patents, product recalls, trademark infringements and marketing tie-ups, few pharma companies might be open to media and avoid media at some stage, opines NR Munjal, Managing Director of IndSwift laboratories. Additionally, companies shy away from the media due to the fear of being misquoted.
"At times corporate clients may decide not to go ahead with the query or interview because of certain reasons—fear of the journalist misinterpreting, a weak storyline, too soon to share the information, he may not have the information, company policy, regulations or too tight a deadline," explains Gupta.

Role of mass media
In today's day and age, pharma companies cannot simply ignore the importance of interacting with the mass media. With bad publicity coming their way through examples of Vioxx, recalling of various drugs and counterfeiting, it has become essential for pharma majors to create a robust corporate image. And the mass media can assist them in this direction. "Instead of five-six odd media interactions, during publishing of results, if the pharmacos continually interact with all their stakeholders through mass media, it will go a long way in creating a corporate image," explains a top official from a renowned magazine.
Consistent communication with consumers through mass media will not only increase the recall for the corporate brand, but will also help the company ride over any controversies. Media goes a long way in educating the consumers about a particular company and its performance (financial), its products, management team and so on. This helps in building a transparent and a sound corporate image as well as in creating recall in the minds of consumers. Hence it makes sense for any corporate to have a 2-way communication channel with the media. It will be an added bonus, if they make an effort to ensure that the media fully understands the business and its various therapeutic areas of a pharma company. This will help reduce the problems of misrepresentation of information. Such 2-way communication also helps in building a trustworthy image (in minds of the customers) and safeguards against dissemination of wrong information.

By being media savvy, a company stands only to gain. "For starters, a company can benefit through an enhanced corporate image in the minds of doctors and patients, increased confidence in investors and other agencies dealing with the company, availability and retention of skilled and competent manpower and lastly, increased possibility for international tie-ups like in-licensing or out-licensing and a boost to marketing efforts," says Munjal.

IT vs Pharma
Proprietary knowledge and intellectual property is a common feature of the IT industry too. So what makes the IT industry more media responsive than pharma? Experts from the pharma industry defend themselves by saying that the nature of the pharma industry is different from that of the IT industry. "Most service providers in the IT industry employ large number of people and undertake client-contracted work. Therefore, they tend to be more open and visible in terms of operations," asserts Ram. The pharmaceutical industry, on the other hand, is characterised by R&D and manufacturing, which reflects facets of proprietary knowledge that at times set certain limits, when it comes to sharing information. "Not withstanding this, I believe that the Indian Pharma industry has come a long way in terms of communicating its growth strategies and plans with its stakeholders in a transparent manner," he adds.

It is but obvious that companies, irrespective of the industry they are in, share information to the media within the lines of a policy framework adapted by the company. This protocol is drawn on back of the interests of the concerned company and its stakeholders. "There are numerous IT companies who are media shy. Yes, I agree that there are various rules and regulations binding a pharma industry and most importantly it is a research driven sector. Therefore a pharma company cannot openly talk about its various products and its benefits like an IT or an FMCG major," reveals Gupta.

All for a favourable image

A sound corporate image cannot just be created in isolation. It has to be intrinsic to a company's operations. Pharma companies stand to benefit on many grounds by investing in creating an image for the company as a whole. For starters, its products get instant recognition. It helps in generating recall amongst doctors and patients, as well as the general public. "A strong image also delivers many benefits from attracting and retaining human talent, perception of the company's products and services in the mind of the customer and of course also reflects in the capital markets," explains Ram.

While many opine that ensuring corporate governance is the only way of creating sound corporate image in the minds of the shareholder and the consumer, others feel that organising press conferences for announcing results, new product launches and marketing tie-ups at regular intervals, making all useful information available at the company's website and circulating press releases for all the key developments in the company is yet another way of achieving the objective. Whatever tactics a company adopts need to be based on the information needs of all the stakeholders. "The strategies adopted, vis-à-vis each identified strategic stakeholder group will vary, depending on the intensity of the company's standing with each group. However, the overall strategy will have certain common elements on product profile, performance, competencies and corporate responsibility," clarifies Ram. And this is not all. In addition to understanding, a corporate also needs to anticipate the information needs of the different stakeholder groups and deliver it in real-time. One can also look at many other ways, like facility visits, friendly HR initiatives, environment friendly policies and quality initiatives. It is of utmost importance to understand the needs of the various target groups and structure the strategy accordingly.

"A good corporate image is built brick by brick. They are built by policies that are communicated to and accepted by employees, by the quality of customer service and employee behaviour. Reputations are enhanced by how willing and prepared a company is to communicate honestly, sharing good news and bad. Public relations and communications tools can be used effectively to support messages that enhance an organisation's reputation," elucidates Gupta.

A separate department
Companies today, have established corporate communications department or hire services of reputed public relations (PR) firm to help them interact with the media and maintain their image in the minds of the stakeholder. "The corporate communications department does play an important role in complying with the corporate governance requirements, but it has a much more specific role in the overall brand management of the company. Obviously, good governance leads to a good image," opines Ram. "A Corporate Communications department acts as a link between the company and the outside world which includes the media and its investing community," states Munjal. Thus, this department plays a significant role in bringing to the forth, the true image of the company.

Activities of a PR firm, in the pharma context, are not just restricted to distributing press releases. "An agency's role is about reputation and perception management and brand building. It's about creating and implementing public relations programmes that make a meaningful, positive impact on each client's reputation, brand and bottom line," explains Gupta.

However, today, more often than not, both these outfits are criticised for delaying everything and for being inefficient. "That is a wrong perception. PR is definitely not, nor has it been a roadblock. Every process, which is followed, is governed by various protocols and company policy," emphasises Gupta. Usually, when a query comes in, the agency evaluates the query keeping in mind the code of behaviour and the interests of its client. It is forwarded to the concerned spokesperson or corporate communications head of the company. Then, depending on the time, availability and the deadline specified by the journalist, the dialogue is initiated—be it an interview or answers to a query.

Thus, as pharma companies grow bigger and invest crores in corporate branding, the time has come now, to leverage the power of media towards creating a strong corporate image.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Health budget up by nearly Rs.4,000 crore

India's health budget has gone up by nearly Rs.4,000 crore to Rs.21,113.33 crore ($4.35 billion) with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday giving special emphasis to the rural healthcare. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) that aims to provide quality healthcare to villagers Monday saw its budget allocation increase by Rs.2,057 crore. Describing the NRHM as an "essential instrument for achieving goal of health for all", Mukherjee in his budget speech proposed "an increase of Rs.2,057 crore over and above Rs.12,070 crore provided in the interim budget" he had presented before the general elections earlier this year. The flagship programme of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the NRHM was launched in 2005. The aim was to improve availability and access to quality healthcare for people living in remote areas. The main focus is on 18 states that have weak public health infrastructure - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Orissa, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Hoping to strengthen the tertiary sector, the government is setting up six All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-like institutions in the country and upgrading 13 existing medical colleges. While the upgradation is likely to be completed in the current year, the six institutions are likely to be operationalised by 2010-11, says the plan outlay of the union budget. For this project, Rs.1,447.92 crore has been earmarked. Aimed at correcting the regional imbalance in the availability of affordable and reliable healthcare services, the project envisages setting up AIIMS prototypes in Patna (Bihar), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Jodhpur (Rajasthan) and Rishikesh (Uttarakhand). The union budget has also allocated Rs.10 crore for the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD). The pilot phase is being launched in 25 districts in the next two years and aims to prevent avoidable hearing loss and ensure early identification, diagnosis and treatment of ear problems responsible for hearing loss and deafness. The budget also allotted Rs.100 crore for kickstarting medical, non-medical and nursing courses in institutions under the health ministry for accommodating 27 percent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC). In its bid to develop, promote and make the Indian systems of medicines more scientific, the department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) under the health ministry was allocated Rs.734 crore. The finance minister in his 2009-10 budget also increased by 40 percent the allocation for the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), the health insurance plan that was launched last year. "More than 46 lakh BPL (below poverty line) families in 18 states and UTs (union territories) have been issued biometric smart cards" for the scheme, the finance minister said in his speech. He said this scheme "empowers poor families by giving them freedom of choice for using healthcare services from an extensive list of hospitals including private hospitals". "Government proposes to bring all BPL families under this scheme. An amount of Rs.350 crore, marking 40 percent increase over the previous allocation, is being provided in 2009-10 budget estimates," Mukherjee added.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Campaign World No-Smoking Day

Recently internationally world no-smoking day was celebrated. Smoking as you know leads to lot of lethal diseases the important ones being various types of Cancer's. Also Dr. Anubiram Ramdoss, Union Health minister, India issued the policy of pictorial warnings on cigarette and tobacco packets. The UPA govt. kept its promise made to the NGO and doctors, by issuing pictorial warnings notification for all the manufacturers of tobacco products. Lot of NGOs and hospitals has applauded this move, which will help to curb intake of tobacco related products.

Check-out these links:



There is enough awareness and publicity on this issue and even a survey can prove this amongst different socio-economical groups. The no-smoking initiative has lot of supporters from big business houses like Ambuja cements, Mahindra's, etc to celebs like Vivek oberoi, etc NGOs like Salaam Bombay Foundation, Heales, Indian Dental Association, etc.

Thinking this campaign from a Public Relations POV tells us how successful it is. The campaign is one of the most successful campaigns, much successful than any Tobacco manufacturing company's cigarette campaign. The campaign was able to lobby at policy makers level to create laws to curb tobacco intake by introducing no-smoking restaurants and no-smoking zones at public places. The campaign also informed all the stakeholders about the ill-effects of tobacco intake with the help of public service films, announcements, TVCs, etc.

· But has this campaign provided solutions for the tobacco addicts?

· If the smokers are doing something wrong, then what is the correct thing?

· How can they quit intake of tobacco?

· Any medicines available?

There are many such questions which the addict is searching for. The surveys often talks that out of every 10 smokers 7 die, 1 cigarette reduces 7 minutes of life, out of every 10 smokers 5 are looking for options to quit but the temptation is enough to push them back to smoking.

Has the campaign able to reduce smokers? The answer is a flat NO.

Except the fact that smokers need to quit and should overcome the temptation. Are their not enough anti-tobacco pills, nicotine gums, etc? The multi-nationals should enter and launch campaigns to promote de-addiction, should launch de-addiction centers for addicts who are looking forward for tobacco free life. Support groups for people looking to quit tobacco should be launched; this would help more people to quit. Just creating awareness and publicity doesn't accomplish anything except PUBLIC RELATIONS for the company or NGO.

To cut the long story short, it is high time just creating awareness, start providing solutions and help to give smokers a SMOKE FREE LIFE..

There are very less NGOs who really work towards helping the smokers to live a smoke free life

Monday, June 8, 2009

Alternative medicine scenario in India

Alternative medicine which comprises the other category of medical therapy or treatment has not yet got its due credits. This sector of medicine is yet to secure place in the minds of patients, the main reason for this is very slow healing process i.e. time consuming and also some are painful therapies. The sector is vast and each has its laws and concepts on healing.

Below is the range of different types of therapies:

Alternative medicines

1. Homeopathy
2. Ayurvedia
3. Unani


1. Yoga
2. Acupressure
3. Acupuncture
4. Kerala Ayurveda massage therapy
5. Meditation

The best part of alternative medicine is that it has no side effects and they are natural. This medicinal procedure builds-up body’s immune system, so the body becomes strong enough to protect itself.

The main problem faced by alternative medicine is awareness in general public, except Homeopathy and Yoga of which the general mass are informed to a large extent. This can be seen from the statistics on the Homeopathic industry which reported an increase of 25% in last 5 years; compare to this Allopathy has grown on 2% in this fiscal. So imagine the growth, if these alterative medicines get same awareness as allopathy?

To start the alternative medicine sector should decide on the key messaging part for the general masses. They should hold ground level events to reach the target audience. This sector should also look at taping media to publicize successful cases and start support group, this will help to get across to its patients and solve queries. The strategy should also tap in film placements which influence the mass a lot. Only through awareness and word-of-mouth the alternative medicine market will grow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Crisis in Healthcare industry

As this sector deals with life - every life saved translates into big publicity and every life lost translates into lot of negative publicity very difficult to erase.

Crisis in this sector is usually classified into the following
1. Death of patient
2. Sexual harassment charges
3. Medicine overdose
4. Duplicate drug

There are many situations where crisis can take place, but above mentioned are few of the important ones.

Incase of any crisis the thumb rule is:
1. It is very important to understand the crisis, talk to all the parties involved.
2. Inform the spokesperson and people affected to maintain a common statement for media. In the meant time setup an enquiry committee.
3. Keep media informed about the latest reports only after approval.
4. Get assistance of legal department/consultants.
5. Understand what media wants and diplomatically solve all the queries.
6. There are many aspects to deal with crisis so it is necessary to hire a communications agency.

Here I will quote a case study to better understand crisis
Molestation charges against male doctor by female patient during checking and no female attendant is nearby. And the doctor is not guilty, but how to prove it?

What, I have highlighted is an extreme crisis situation which can tarnish the image of the doctor as well as of the hospital. Here, it is important to understand the doctors’ side and the patients’ side of the story. Can schedule meeting with a psychiatrist of both the parties, whose reports can help to understand the reasons behind such incidence. The legal dept and the hospitals spokesperson should keep all channels open and interact with the media (the information shared with the media should be approved by the mgt). As far as possible the culprit should not speak to media and have faith in the hospitals management. If the patient is wrong their will be loopholes in her story which can surface during interrogation. It might happen that the patient was sexually starved and was trying to advance towards the doctor and he might have objected resulting in this claim. The other possibility can be that doctor was checking her heart beats and by mistake touched her breast. Only after discussions this type of case can be solved.

Once the case is solved both the parties (doctor & patient) should speak to media and convey the right message. Keeping media informed helps to gain positive respect from media which helps in the long run.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The rise of Homeopathy

Homeopathy medicine which can be referred as the third front in medicine after Allopathy and Ayurvedia is regaining its credibility in the recent times. The patients themselves have turned towards homeopathy after using allopathy and ayurvedia over the years.

Homeopathy was discovered just over two centuries back by Dr. Samuel Hahnemman, a German. But somehow the way this particular medicine follows was very time consuming and this became the main reason for drift in patients towards other type of medicine. Also, the media hardly recognized homeopathy and that it can cure patients of diseases. Homeopathy was also not able to prove itself with enough studies to ICMR or FDA, which hampered its further credibility. In medicine credibility is the most important feature and media helps to a large extent to establish it in the minds of consumers/ patients/ caregivers. Since allopathy was able to cure faster, the results were faster to experience, this form emphasized allopathy as a credible form of medicine.

But now the patients are more aware and they understand homeopathy as natural form of medicine i.e. it helps your body to fight the disease by using the same symptoms which was the reason behind disease. Homeopathy uses the law of similar for treatment. Small doses of the disease causing bacteria are given to the patient so the patient creates immune system for that particular disease and fights against to cure the patient. The same treatment style is used when treating any patient on bite by a poisonous snake, the medicines used to treat venom are manufactured using venom.

So homeopathy hardly harms our body or has any side effects, since the medicine is manufactured using the same symptoms which is causing the trouble..

Recently couple of doctors has taken initiative to promote Homeopathy form of treatment, and their efforts have seen the light of the day. Now the number of homeopathy clinics has increased to cater the new informed patients. These patients are opting for Homeopathy, post their experience of allopathy medicines which cause side-effects. Whenever we think about Homeopathy the first name which comes to our mind is Dr. Mukesh Bhatra, he is on the fore-front of the brigade to inform patients about homeopathy through his extensive columns in various media channels. There are other doctors like Dr. Rajesh Shah who reached out internationally through web to create awareness about this form of medicine.

Some reference websites

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why doctors should opt for vernacular media?

Well, everybody knows that we require treatment from doctors as we grow older. It is also known fact that most old/aged people prefer vernacular media or newspapers, rather than any other media. Even the people late in 40s prefer vernacular media to keep themselves updated happenings. This can also be found from a small survey done at the doctors own clinic, where the doctor’s receptionist can ask the patients about which types of newspapers they read.

Vernacular media/publications are more reader oriented and they have more editorial content than their English counter-part. The vernacular publications provide the readers a taste of their own and culture. They give have special sections for readers on culture and old age medicines/therapies.

The vernacular media has lots of space for health news. As a matter of fact the vernacular media content is more for the reader to use, so they have a dedicated section for health and wellbeing related news.
It is quite easy for doctors to get featured in vernacular media as they have very limited amount of news to feature. They are most happy when any doctor promises them to provide a series of articles. A series of articles in vernacular publication better than on of small quote in mainline English media.
A doctor can easily establish a good rappo with editor or the chief of bureau of the particular vernacular publication. With this the doctors can pitch him to come on the advisory board for health news for the publication; this will help to get featured in the health pages. The publication benefits from having a doctor journalist on board and the doctor benefits news coverage.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jagoore campaign for Tata Tea

Jagoore campaign for Tata Tea
The campaign started on a very good note.
Brand name - Tata Tea
Tag line - Jago re
Product features - Strong tea, aroma, strength in morning
The product came from a respectable industry stable i.e. TATA SONS. The group has enjoyed consumer preference traditionally.
The brand Tata tea was a known and well established brand in Indian markets. To create more brand recall and position the brand as top of the mind recall the brand launched the "Jagoore" initiative.
The company tied-up with NGO Janaagraha which works in the area of election and citizen rights. The initiative JAGOORE was launched to inform voters about their rights through TVCs, print, radio spots, online and on-ground events. Jagoore for your rights went well with Tata Tea Jagoore to a new morning. This initiative received excellent response by media and the citizens using the internet coz all the campaigns emphasized registering on But the question is has this campaign helped the brand or helped the NGO. I think this initiative has outgrown the brand, now people recollect Jagoore more with voting than Tata tea. Was this campaign necessary to reach consumers? Still the top of mind recall in terms of Tea for me is Brooke Bond or Taj Mahal.
Has the sales of Tata tea gone up to the expected level or have more people decided to vote. Doing BTL brand connecting activity helps the brands who cannot advertise or publicize, why was their a need for Tata tea to do this association? Also since Jagoore was associated with registering online the target consumers were from well-to-do family who drink tea based on taste and perception. So my question is how the sales have benefited from this initiative?

Indian Media & How it will evolve in the next 5 years

Indian media history

The history of Indian media dates back to year 1887, when Bal Gangadhar Tilak launched Kesari. But the history dates back to Hickey's Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser which was launched in 1780. Through the rulers of Indian Colony had their own news paper and international editions of newspapers available then for their updates. The main job of the media then and now remains the same of informing the consumers about the goings-on in the society.

Mahatma Gandhi had often used media to lobby against imposing of new laws by the British government. Like, way back in 1906 when the British government imposed new poll-tax Zulus in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi often wrote column in ‘Indian Opinion’ to create awareness about the ill-effects of the new tax. Also, when in India he used to send press notes to media providing them with information on the Congress proceedings, freedom struggle, etc.

Shahid Bhagat Singh used media to convey his message during his court trial period. These trials were attended by journalists who conveyed his message across to them, which in turn reached the citizens and freedom fighters of India i.e. the target audiance.

Of late, even novel authors Jeffery Archer have demonstrated the use of media through his novels Cane & Able and Prodigal Daughter. So, media has played a big role during the Indian freedom struggle by conveying message and action plan of the freedom fighters to the common people, while on the other hand the authors have created stories based on the media and its involvement in the story characters.

Present scenario of Indian media

Media has greatly evolved since its nascent stage, since its printing days. Earlier it was only print media, and then came radio channels, with the opening of the television medium, the media sector witnessed the launch of electronic media, further evolution saw the birth of internet. With the launch of each new medium the consumer started receiving news quicker.

Usually, print media takes atleast 24 hours for the news to appear, radio and television procure within 24 hours, while Internet takes probably less than an hour to go online and reach the readers. Through the Indian consumers have seen and experienced different mediums there is yet a lot to come.

At present, in the Indian media scenario there is a battle between the publications and electronic media for exclusive content. This led news channels/publications to define the news they will be covering in terms of general news, financial news, technology news, political news, lifestyle, movies, etc. With the growing number of publications and TV channels the journalists have started sensitizing all the news to gain TRPs. But this trend is slowly growing towards nsumers’ oriented content, because the consumer is the king and viewer ship matters.
This was the same era blogs started gaining some popularity, but still they were in a very nascent stage and consumers were hardly referring to blogs for news, also the print and television media was criticizing the bloggers for their credibility.

But matters changed when the infamous Drudge Report published Monica Lewinsky scandal and opened a can of worms. The Drudge Report changed the media scenario completely, and blogs got credibility in the minds of the readers.

It is interesting to know how the media evolved with the readers/viewers taste patterns. Below are some of the listed exampled of how media has changed according to consumer taste patterns:
  1. Mid-day the tabloid, Mumbai: It covers news relevant to city in which it runs the edition. Most of the news is about some gossip, sensitize situation, celebrity gossips, etc, but there are some exclusives which it covers using visual aids. These videos are uploaded on Mid-Day website for readers who want to understand the story in-dept. So the readers now can SEE & HEAR the news. The readers can also vote on the news content about there review.
  2. Economic Times a financial publication, India: The publication is the no.1 financial news publication in India. The publication also has online presence through the website so, oftenthe print stories appear on the website. The website is updated every hour with the latest developments in the market; this news might not be available in the print edition. Some of the stories get extensive and in-depth analysis on the website as lot of space is available online, and readers often comment on those stories.
  3. Times Ascent a supplement from TOI: This is a bi-weekly supplement from the Times group free with the Times of India edition. The supplement also has a huge presence online with the Times Ascent website. The supplement has restricted space for stories, so the website offers this platform for most stories. The website has dedicated column for HR heads who often write on new trends, CSR initiatives, interview techniques, etc. This website also has internal content tie-up with website for content sharing, which helps the jobseekers with new HR trends information.
  4. Most of the TV channels have an online presence in terms of videos of exclusive stories and transcripts of the same. The electronic media has evolved to such an extent that each show can be seen live on the website. So viewers at any location can watch their favorite shows.
  5. With more consumers interested in blogs, the senior journalists often run official blogs connected to the publication/TV channel websites. The journalists share their views on these blogs, which are related to the economic scenario of the country/city.
  6. ET Now a soon to be launched business news channel: ET Now which will be launched by Times group as an extension to Economic Times newspaper has the teams of ET Now and Economic Times working together along with the website correspondents. With this the sharing of news content across the three media channels will be flexible. Any exclusives will be covered by the electronic media using visual aids, the print media will cover the important aspect of the story and the website will cover full length with in-dept analysis receiving updates every hour. Now to check how the consumers have responded it will be connected to SMSs service. The same news will be Twitted by the consumers and bookmarked on del.ici.ous.
  7. With the media changing according to the consumer taste, the consumer himself becomes a journalist. The Indian media has started to experience it with the launch of CJ (Citizen Journalist) by CNN-IBN and a website dedicated to citizen journalists so anybody can report about any happenings.

Future of Indian media

The Indian media is growing at rapid speed involving different tools available online and mobile to garner readers/consumers attention. But the question remains where it is headed towards? What is the future? How will we experience the news or how to get readers involved in the story?

Some new medium for the media industry which will become a common place for the consumers/readers in the future are as follows:

  1. Podcasts -
  2. Electronic paper -
  3. News on mobile -
  4. Info-entertainment – Information combined with entertainment, so consumers get information through entertainment shows.
  5. Social networking -
  6. Professional bloggers -
  7. Bluetooth 4.0 – For sharing information
  8. Skype -
  9. Mobile 3G enabled

The future of media is highly unpredictable with the number of innovations in the space of communications are increasing. With the rise of alternative communication mediums the news will be more factual and statistics proven for the consumers to understand. In the future the content matter will be less and visuals will be more as consumers will like to grasp and understand the story faster wasting less amount of time. The films will be of shorter length, so we can watch a whole movie in an hour.

The news on the TV Channels will be easily downloadable by sending a message. Recently launched Mobibuzz TV ( provides content for mobile media, they cover the news which is uploaded on their website, by registering on the website the consumer can select the content he/she wants to see. This content is sent to the consumers’ mobile through MMS. With the launch of 3G platform this content can be easily downloaded on a business phone. These platforms offer the consumers to decide what they want to view and when, so the consumer will be king who decides on the news content. The news will be more consumer centric as the story will have followers commenting and interacting with the journalist.

There is a high possibility of 3 –D news which can get viewers involved and let them experience the story.

With the evolution of media, the public relations industry will evolve with more focus on the brand/product/company specific communication, also the industry will have measuring tools for that communication. This evolution will also impact product communication strategy, which will become innovative and involve the consumers into the product.

Here is a case study on the product communication in the future where the character portraying Mihir from ‘Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ is working in Tata Teleservices Ltd as manager Human Resource dept.

  • The story will revolve around his work-place area promoting the working environment at the company.
  • This helps to promote the new vacancies in the company, when he informs the web development dept.
  • As the work involves interaction with different dept, he will interact with the the sales and marketing dept, so through this the new services and offerings can be promoted.
  • Mhir uses a Tata Nano a common mans car to go for shopping on weekends so promotes the car.
  • Mihir often uses ICICI Bank ATM so the services are highlighted, in turn he starts learning to use the netbanking service, and this informs the viewers how to use netbanking service.

A lot of products can be marketed using this format for the soap-serials, since a lot of different companies will be marketing through this platform, the product placement and communications rates will be inexpensive for the companies. Also with the launch of satellite communications channels like DTH and CAS and the newest form of cable i.e. IPTV brand communication will be a lot easier. The set-top boxes will tap the viewer ship patterns and post that can communicate with the consumers through alternate mediums may be RIFD

However, it will be very difficult to gauge the innovations in media industry. The communication tools available internationally, are now easily available in India. With the rise in demand for the better content the media will provide better and shorter content for consumers. The need for better content will create demand for better PR professionals who will provide all the information required by the journalists. So, it will be important for these professionals to become information centers for the journalists/bloggers. Earlier the corporate communicate dept. was a part in the marketing dept, then with evolution the corporate communication manager started managing the marketing role also. Now the total communication of the company i.e. internal and external is managed by the corporate communication team.
With further evolution, the corporate communications role will also involve the information officers’ role and executive assist to the Managing Director, to advice on the different communication strategies for the company.
Last but not the least: consumer will be the king who will decide what type of new he/she wants and how he/she wants.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Homeopathy the THIRD FRONT in medicine

Everybody has heard about Homeopathy, but never understood how it helps us. Lot of patients have beneficted from Homeopathy, but hardly anybody promotes it. Traditionally homeopathy has been in existence for more than two centuries. But it received widepread public attention through its effectiveness during epidemics of cholera in the 19th century. During the great influenza epidemic of the 1920's, homeopathic hospitals reported low death rates, while hospitals employing conventional medicine reported death rates of 20% to 30%.
Since the late '40's, double blind trials testing homeopathy on various medical conditions have led to mixed results. Some are claimed to support the use of homeopathy. In other cases, this method of evaluation proved itself incapable of documenting the success of homeopathic cures.
In a report published in the September 20, 1997 issue of Lancet, Dr. Wayne Jonas, head of the Office of Alternative medicine, and Dr. Klaus Linde, concluded that, when the evidence of the 89 studies of homeopathy judged to be of good quality was pooled, homeopathy was deemed to be 2.45 times more effective than placebo.
In 1996, an unpublished study from the Homeopathic Medicine Research Group, an organization formed by the European Union to determine the effectiveness of homeopathy, concluded that homeopathy was more effective than a placebo... and the probability was only 0.027% that this result might be due to chance! Remarkably, a group skeptical toward homeopathy had assisted in the study's design.
In the February 9, 1991 issue of the British Medical Journal, an analysis by two Dutch researchers asked to assess the efficacy of various forms of alternative medicine, reported that although initially they had been sceptics as to homeopathy and alternative medicine in general, "The amount of positive results came as a surprise to us... The evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications."
Another, more recent, study stated “Compared with placebo, homeopathy provoked a clear, significant, and clinically relevant improvement in nasal inspiratory peak flow, similar to that found with topical steroids.” British medical Journal August 19th 2000.

The basic law of Homeopathy is let like cure like. This means that the appropriate substance to treat a disease is one which induces similar symptoms in a healthy person. Then, it is crucial to know the symptoms associated with various substances, remedial pathogeneses.

Their have been lot of communities promoting Homeopathy, like is doing a signature campaign to promote this alternative medicine. HEAL is an independent, open-membership platform whose mission is to promote health and well being through homeopathy and endorse homeopathy as a system of medicine. Our key objective is to create awareness about homeopathy. The HEAL web site and blog, aims to reach people who are new to homeopathy with helpful information.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Promoting new therapy or new category by Pharma Company

Mankind has been witnessing newer and newer drugs, therapies, drug deliveries to enhance the lives of humans. With the increasing competition from generic drug manufacturers, the multi-nationals are trying to develop new categories of drug therapy for existing diseases. In the recent past Multi-nationals have been funding their R & D depts. to invent new therapies.

Some of the new treatment innovations listed below:

  • Oral insulin by Pfizer and Novo Nordisk
  • 1ml painkiller inject able by Triokaa
  • Drug eluting balloon to prevent restenosis by Eurocor

These companies have been facing lot of problems to promote new therapies, coz, the doctors are hesitant to prescribe fearing its effects. Sometimes doctors also recommend the old therapy along with the new one, so they don't have to worry about its failure.

Traditionally the Pharma cos have been conducting CMEs amongst the doctors to promote the new therapies usage. Surveys help to understand the side effects better. But, as yet no great innovation has taken place to promote these newer therapies. The brochures have replaced presentations and videos, but still those have not been impressive enough?

Thinking about in from my view, I personally think that from the time this new therapy gets USFDA and DCI approval a communications strategy should be implemented. This would be focusing on the problems faced by patients because of the existing therapy, survey reports indicating patients and doctors doubtful of this therapy, launching associations to promote the need of new therapy, tie-ups with NGOs fighting to help promote this disease, etc.

A communications consultancy can advice and create a communications plan accordingly.

Create associations with NGOs help a lot in creating awareness about the disease.

The case of Apple iPhone is one of the best one in the industry. The iPhone was completely promoted without advertising, before the product was launched and everyone wanted to be a user of iPhone.

The question will still haunt product & brand managers as to how to promote new product or therapy in the market. The sector is waiting for an innovation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hospitals care about brand building too

Branding initiatives in the healthcare industry are getting an emphasis they’ve never had before. So, you have pamphlets on preventive healthcare from the neighborhood clinic, advertisements of a new facility at a big hospital in the city, and health tips on radio sponsored by another hospital. Health care providers are are going all out to make sure their respective brands stay in people’s minds by doing sponsored events, banners and audio-visual ads.

"Brand conveys trust and that is more important in this industry than in any other", says Ratan Jalan. “Research has shown that in healthcare, the customer has a limited rational framework in decision making. In this context, a brand becomes important.” Hospitals take a wide range of channels to highlight the brand — sponsoring events for the medical fraternity, continuous medical education programmes, medical camps, awareness seminars in colleges, literature on specific ailments, and the reminder media.

Manipal Health System MD R Basil says: “Our external branding is directed at specific groups — doctors, corporate houses, insurance companies, students and general public. We conduct continuous medical education programmes on the latest in each speciality and what the hospital is doing in that field. We also use the reminder media like radio and traffic canopies to remind people about help numbers.”

Manipal Hospital has earmarked about Rs 1.5 crore for its external brand development activities for the current financial year, Mr Basil says. It has also laid much emphasis on internal branding efforts. “A hospital’s brand is built from the point of view of a patient or his relatives and visitors walk into the hospital interacts with any staff member,” Mr Basil adds. The hospital, thus, has in place “patient care coordinators” and gives out education material on common diseases to patients.

With a budget of Rs 6 crore for mass media promotions, Apollo Hospitals carries out campaigns through the print, radio and TV media on preventive healthcare, Mr Jalan says. “We have not been very aggressive in the conventional mass media advertising.

But we do have commercials promoting preventive health care, and to advertise technological breakthroughs or a new facility at the hospital,” he says. For Wockhardt, promotions are not done on an on-going basis but are event-based, Wockhardt Hospitals CEO Vishal Bali says. “In Bangalore, when we made the transition from cardiology to other specialties, we had a large campaign that was very effective. The objective is to let the consumer know what is available,” he says.

Delhi-based Max Healthcare conducts doctor-driven customer meeting events and has in the market a pre-paid health check-up package, which together give mileage to the brand name, Max Healthcare director, sales & marketing, Sanjay Rai says.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Crisis in healthcare industry

As this sector deals with life - every life saved translates into big publicity and every life lost translates into lot of negative publicity very difficult to erase.
Crisis in this sector is usually classified into the following:
  1. Death of patient
  2. Sexual harassment charges
  3. Medicine overdose
  4. Duplicate drug
There are many situations where crisis can take place, but above mentioned are few of the important ones. Incase of any crisis the thumb rule is:
  1. It is very important to understand the crisis, talk to all the parties involved.
  2. Inform the spokesperson and people affected to maintain a common statement for media. In the meant time setup an enquiry committee.
  3. Keep media informed about the latest reports only after approval.
  4. Get assistance of legal department/consultants.
  5. Understand what media wants and diplomatically solve all the queries.
  6. There are many aspects to deal with crisis so it is necessary to hire a communications agency.
Here I will quote a case study to better understand crisis Molestation charges against male doctor by female patient during checking and no female attendant is nearby. And the doctor is not guilty, but how to prove it? What, I have highlighted is an extreme crisis situation which can tarnish the image of the doctor as well as of the hospital. Here, it is important to understand the doctors’ side and the patients’ side of the story. Can schedule meeting with a psychiatrist of both the parties, whose reports can help to understand the reasons behind such incidence. The legal dept and the hospitals spokesperson should keep all channels open and interact with the media (the information shared with the media should be approved by the mgt). As far as possible the culprit should not speak to media and have faith in the hospitals management. If the patient is wrong their will be loopholes in her story which can surface during interrogation. It might happen that the patient was sexually starved and was trying to advance towards the doctor and he might have objected resulting in this claim. The other possibility can be that doctor was checking her heart beats and by mistake touched her breast. Only after discussions this type of case can be solved. Once the case is solved both the parties (doctor & patient) should speak to media and convey the right message. Keeping media informed helps to gain positive respect from media which helps in the long run.

This can happen in any hospital like Hinduja Hospital, KEM Hospital, JJ Hospital, Tata Hospital, etc. So be aware and set your protocols to fight such crisis...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Good Public Relations is Equal to Better Health

The correct approach must be to be forthright, transparent, and to accept ultimate responsibility without much hesitation. News media are bombarded with stories every day. How do you choose what is most interesting? We will not cover press releases here, but rather the importance of a long-term strategy emphasising your 'good works'.

Pro-active PR

Your objective is to identify real stories about what a great facility you have, and the good you do for people and communities. So, put your best foot forward. The best news stories are about patients and medical staff as human beings, combined with healing against all odds, or successful surgeries in difficult circumstances.

How do you start your pro-active strategy? Bring all department heads together for a comprehensive discussion towards a cohesive approach. Of course, this approach must be in tune with the brand and image of the facility. In other words, don't forget to invite the marketing department. As in any organisation, the challenge is to have this cohesive message still intact by the time it filters down to the front lines. For this reason, your PR officer should meet with each department separately and regularly to discuss important and innovative work.

An important result of regular contact with media to tell them about worthwhile stories is that, whether stories are published or not, your PR officer forms a relationship with key health and news reporters. Contacts are made and kept. These contacts and this approach are extremely important when the bad news happens.

Reactive PR

Sometimes mistakes are made by medical personnel who are human beings. Sometimes a quality process is not up to standard, or not internalised by staff. Sometimes ownership has neglected an issue. Most important, every patient is different and has different responses to stimuli. Sad and bad things happen. Yet, two facts are against you even before the unfortunate occurrence has taken place.

First, the 'tall poppy' syndrome. When someone increases in stature to be a superstar, other people have an urge to cut that person 'down to size'. Sad but true. People and reporters will always want to know the clay foot of a superstar. This syndrome is coupled with a distrust of authority, in most countries. Hospitals and doctors are of course authorities on health. In some circumstances, people are not inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to authority, but rather to suspect the worst. They think of a cover-up.

Second, the media loves a sensational story. 'When it bleeds, it leads' is a maxim of media. This is why reactive stories of tragedy are more likely to be news, while proactive 'good works' stories may be harder to place in media. Don't forget that every reporter wants to be a star, too. They want a juicy story. All these sad and bad things do happen, and who is to blame? You are to blame.

When bad news happens, your facility can only hope the media contacts you have carefully nourished pro-actively will call you to ask for your side of the story, for balance. Consider the UK media where 'slash jobs' are done without any balance. So, when bad news happens, what will your story be? For insight, let's look at two famous negative health care stories: Tylenol and Bhopal.


In 1982, seven people in Chicago, USA died after taking Tylenol capsules that had been tampered with and replaced with poison. This was soon found to be an act of random murder. Parent company Johnson & Johnson distributed warnings to hospitals and distributors. They stopped Tylenol production and brand advertising, but soon advertised that individuals should not consume Tylenol. They issued a nationwide recall of an estimated 31 million bottles of Tylenol with a retail value of over $100 million.

Tylenol's market share immediately collapsed from 35 to 8 per cent. Later, it was determined only Tylenol capsules were tampered with, and Johnson & Johnson offered to exchange Tylenol capsules purchased by the public with solid tablets. Tylenol soon re-introduced capsules in a new triple-sealed package, which set a new packaging standard for all OTC medications. They had taken a negative and turned it into a positive, and were seen as a leader. Market share rebounded in less than a year, credited to consumer confidence in how the crisis was handled, and Tylenol was undisputed market leader for many years.

Think again about this story: it is a focused strategy to limit danger no matter what the cost or embarrassment, and to emphasise quality and trustworthiness.


In 1984, a tragedy struck right here in India: Bhopal. I will not recount the details here. Readers know of the gas leak which was blamed by Union Carbide on some unnamed 'disgruntled worker'. A different opinion came from former workers who said the plant maintenance was not up the mark and led to the disaster. More than two decades later, the cost of human suffering is scarcely fathomable: more than 1,00,000 people have died or become deformed or affected in other ways. The groundwater around the plant area remains contaminated, and the question of cleaning up the area is still unresolved. In addition there were costs to business, to the brand of the city, to various Governments and to Union Carbide. The company has since been sold several times.

This was a difficult case. Police were recorded as broadcasting that 'everything is normal' to the population. Several conflicting statements from various sources came during the ensuing days, weeks, months and years. This remains one of the worst industrial accidents of all time.

Anyone who thinks about this story will realise that from the beginning right through to the present day, nobody has taken appropriate responsibility. Which is the correct approach? Remember you are dealing with effects on your brand and company value, your employees, your patients, not to mention Governments, regulators and benefactors. Should you hide, deny and hope for distraction? Or should you address issues head-on and simultaneously show you are correcting the situation?

The correct approach must be to be forthright, transparent, and to accept ultimate responsibility without much hesitation. Of course, you did not intend this bad thing to happen. Presumably, you had the correct safeguards and quality standards in place. Obviously, your PR officer should already have ownership-approved emergency SOPs in place for any unfortunate occurrence, and those SOPs have been understood by department heads in order to lessen misunderstandings at a critical time. Naturally, your PR officer must have 24-hour access to a mobile number of the CEO to discuss an urgent response to an emergency.

Hopefully those good pro-active relationships may help to buy some time or understanding, as that reporter inches closer to deadline with each passing minute. Yes, in healthcare public relations, you put your best foot forward…and you hope for solid footing for as long as possible.