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Pfizer Faces Next Step Challenges on Twitter

2 Sep, 2009 Response This Week

NEW YORK – Back in July, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer launched a Twitter feed, making it part of a large number of companies turning toward social media efforts for non-traditional advertising and communication with consumers. Joining Twitter was just one piece of the company’s larger effort that included a blog earlier in the year.

The Twitter site is a place to post information including news releases, job openings and speeches. “Society has proven to us, has shown us, that this is how people are going to be interacting for now and very much into the future,” Ray Kerins, vice president of worldwide communications for Pfizer, told PRWeek in July. “This is just the next step of evolution in our overall communications strategy for the company.”

At launch, the Twitter feed was not meant to be a place for product communication. However, the limits to what Pfizer can and cannot discuss on the feed are still unknown, as drug companies are highly constrained by federal regulations.

At a recent Pfizer Social Communications and Healthcare Conference, reported on “3-Minute Ad Age,” Kerins voiced his concerns to the audience, saying that federal regulations have not yet caught up with social media.

“There are no guidelines for corporations like Pfizer and what we can and cannot do in social media,” said Kerins. “It’s an opportunity. I see it as a newsfeed. It’s as big as a newswire. We’re looking at publicly disseminated information; information that folks may need and a place where we can set up links. What you’re not seeing us do is commenting on our products.”

Kerins went on to say that the company may never comment on the products in the channel of social media. “There’s so much more we can do with it, we know that,” he added. “We ask those following us to be patient with us, we are listening and we’re going to try to do it right.”

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