Pharma gets social: Blogging keeps Pfizer engaged in Sweden

This month, Daniel Ghinn speaks with the man behind Pfizer Sweden’s environmental and responsibility blog, Bengt Mattson, about the value of personality in pharma social media.

(Continued from “Pharma gets social: The future of social media in pharma“)

Reading Bengt Mattson’s blog, you would be forgiven for thinking he works for a fresh-thinking start-up. The blog, in Swedish and English languages, is packed with views about environmental and sustainability issues in business, education and government.

“I guess we are all aware of the very high unemployment rates among youngsters in Sweden and elsewhere”, reads a recent post about Mattson’s work with a Young Entrepreneurs’ programme. “…entrepreneurs are critical to manage that threat to a sustainable development.”

The company Mattson represents is not, however, a small start-up but the Swedish subsidiary of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, where he is Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Affairs, Pfizer Sweden.

Mattson started Ansvarsblogg.se, the environmental and responsibility blog for Pfizer Sweden, five years ago and it has recently been relaunched.

 

“The company Mattson represents is not, however, a small start-up but the Swedish subsidiary of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world…”

 

 

“If you follow this blog I will present my views on sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR)”, says Mattson on the blog. “I will give examples from Pfizer specifically and the pharmaceutical industry in general.”

Local community personality

Pfizer’s Ansvarsblogg has the feel that Johnson & Johnson’s corporate communications blog JNJBTW had in its early days in 2007, when it was the project of then Director of Communications Marc Monseau. At the time, JNJBTW also had an innovative, ‘start-up’ feel to it that presented the giant Johnson & Johnson with a softer, more intimate personality. Since then, as Johnson & Johnson’s blog has developed to include a breadth of contributors from across the business, it has inevitably become more “corporate“, and less personal.

Not so with Pfizer’s Ansvarsblogg.se, which is a different creature altogether. Since it is not destined to become Pfizer’s primary global corporate blog, it retains a personality that reflects the company’s local community in Sweden, in the context of its global vision.

Experiments in blogging

The comparison with Johnson & Johnson’s corporate blog is perhaps unfair: Pfizer’s Ansvarsblogg keeps its edge by remaining highly focused on one topic, in one market. Yet both Ansvarsblogg and JNJBTW started as experiments in blogging:

“…it retains a personality that reflects the company’s local community in Sweden, in the context of its global vision.”

 
 

“It was originally a pilot initiative to evaluate blogs and social media tools for communication purposes. Today it is our established communication channel for sustainability issues for Pfizer Sweden”, Mattson told me after the blog’s recent relaunch.

With its niche focus on sustainability, the success of the blog is perhaps measured not so much by the extent of its reach, as by who it reaches. “We have managed to establish a communication channel that is very well known among our key stakeholders in the sustainability arena in healthcare”, says Mattson, adding that the blog has played a role not only in information sharing but also what he calls “lobbying activities“.

Perhaps because of its personal feel, the blog goes where traditional communications would be less successful. “We have managed to reach out better through the blog than through the ‘old channels'”, observes Mattson.

Dare to be personal

Ansvarsblogg’s personality has stood the test of time in an ever-changing social media world, too. Although it feels fresh, it was already well established in 2009 when I first interviewed Mattson about his blog project. Back then he told me of the value of the personal nature of Ansvarsblogg: “You have to dare to be personal – that adds an extra dimension to ‘corporate communication’.”

 

“Ansvarsblogg’s personality has stood the test of time in an ever-changing social media world, too.”

 
 

Today, Mattson says he has found that the blog is a very strong tool for reaching out to stakeholders. “In world where everybody ‘Googles’ for information, blogs and similar tools are vital for successful communication,” he says, adding that frequent content updates are important: “As you probably know already, the blog of course has to be updated continuously to be interesting”.

Finally, Mattson sums up in just a few words what I personally see as the triumph of this blog for Pfizer: “it has to be fairly personal to feel honest”.

Daniel’s next article ‘Pharma gets social: Top-10 pharma social media firsts in 2013’ can be viewed here.

 

 

 

About the author:

Daniel Ghinn is CEO of Creation Healthcare and has a passion for the role of communication in achieving better health. He works with global health stakeholders ranging from commercial healthcare companies to government organizations and NGOs.

You can reach Daniel by Twitter at @EngagementStrat or by email daniel.ghinn@creationhealthcare.com.

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