Survey Suggests Online Media Under-used By Companies

In a preliminary survey of medical technology companies medlatest has found widely varying use of online media to disseminate news, press releases and announcements.

20 companies were randomly selected from the Association of British Health Industry’s membership list.  Companies which were either pharmaceutical or other non-device related were excluded and for companies with US or other parentage the parent company site was accessed.

The result was a list comprising global household names as well as SMEs and in each case the company website was assessed according to a number of criteria as follows:

  • Were news items easy to find?
  • When was a press release or news item last posted on the site?
  • How many items have been posted in the last 6 months?
  • Did the company have a twitter or facebook link and was it obvious?

Of the 20 companies investigated, seven had posted at least one press release or news item on their site in the past 30 days, ten had posted zero or one item on their websites in the past 6 months and only 3 showed links to social media such as Twitter or Facebook.  While most had a definitive tab or sub-tab with news content, in some cases this was a separate tab entitled news or media and in others it was found under “investors”.

One company had posted more than ten news items or press releases in the last 6 months, although they were mostly financial in nature.

Why are Medtech companies apparently media-shy?

We think if you were to ask any of the companies in the survey whether they considered themselves cautious users of online media resources most would say they embrace such vehicles. What this pilot survey demonstrates is that this frequently extends only as far as possessing a website with some under-used pigeonholes for news releases.  Our assessment, being lifelong medical device marketers, is that possession of a vehicle and use of it are two different things. One would have thought that the medtech company marketer would dive readily into any form of communications vehicle that is inexpensive and at their finger tips, and according to our research some do.  Admittedly for some in large (especially multinational) organisations there exists an approval process for “marcomms” which stifles the immediacy of the vehicle.  However while internal controls are essential to protect the company against the potential for posting mis-information or indeed information which may come back to bite at a later stage, companies need to balance their defensive stance against the opportunity.  There is no doubt that in some companies the regular posting of news is just too much of an internal hassle.

What’s News?

Like the artist with the blank canvas, we know from experience it’s surprisingly tricky to decide what’s newsworthy, and that it’s difficult to write newsy copy in a way that doesn’t feel like its keeping your competitors rather too well informed.  We’d say don’t worry too much about the competition… you’re hardly likely to be divulging your company’s best kept secrets and in most cases whatever you put out there will actually be helped along by becoming rep tittle tattle.

Going back to the blank piece of paper, the smart product manager needs to consider firstly what information they want out there, not staff birthdays or people sitting in baths of baked beans for charity, but information that the customer will find useful or interesting and which will enhance the company’s standing. An example might be as simple as a new size of a particular device being released or other sub-press release information that shows you’re on top of your marcomms and are supporting your customers.  Or how about referencing, discussing or even just posting clinical pieces or other editorial, all of which demonstrates you’re on top of your job and worth listening to.  Taking the time to sit down with the team for twenty minutes once a week (with that blank piece of paper) can be remarkably fruitful.

Does the Medical Community read what you put out there?

We need to formally survey this too, but our perception of the medical community is that (in the most general terms) the average Consultant does not spend much time trawling corporate websites, or at least doesn’t admit to it.  It is no doubt a different matter for medical students, junior ranks, Specialist Registrars and even the younger Consultant Community and it is a firm prediction that in five years time this will be different.  But why not now? Well, (and again this is only our assessment) we believe there’s a weird dynamic at play here.  Medical Device Companies don’t use new media vehicles because they don’t believe their customers visit them and paradoxically customers don’t use them because the information, as we have demonstrated with this work, is lacking, out of date and (if it’s a company website) by definition perceived as less than impartial. Furthermore, of the “news” orientated websites out there, most fall into one or more of being very US/investor/B2B centric.

Build it and they will come

So coming full circle we arrive at the conclusion that the medical community needs to be kept better informed of medical device and technology news that relates to them.  Indeed the same is true for the ever-extending stakeholder group involved in making purchasing decisions.  How much more productive is a discussion with procurement, finance, clinical lead, budget holder about adoption of a new technology if all have at least some background knowledge of the field.

Unsurprisingly we end with a plug for medlatest, the only EMEA-biased medical technology news resource to be updated daily with news items selected for relevance and interest to the medical community, fully searchable by category and written in a style which hopefully appeals to the reader.

Source: medlatest staff