Dan Primack gave his fellow journalists a pretty hard time about their saturation coverage of the Yahoo / Tumblr deal and simultaneous failure to cover specialty pharma company Activis’ acquisition of Warner-Chilcott recently in a Fortune piece.
I think Dan is right on with this point:
Notice anything horribly amiss? Particularly once we consider that Tumblr basically is the latest/greatest means for teens to express themselves, while Warner Chilcott develops products to help people manage serious diseases and prevent unwanted pregnancies.
But as much as I agree, the post puts at least some of the blame in the wrong place. Journalists don’t miraculously become aware of news when it breaks. It takes resources to get a story in front of a reporter, and effort to craft a compelling story. The Fortune post points a finger at journalists and their consumers for being somewhat shallow, but the imbalance can also be explained through completely reasonably business strategy.
Question: How big of a gap do you think there was between relative PR spend in these two deals?
I would bet Yahoo! spent at the very, very least a cool half million on on Mayer’s Tumblr post and that cute .gif and media outreach. Activis? Probably not even remotely close to that much.
Not to mention the press release copy. Which one would you cover?
I did PR for biopharma companies for four years, and these companies expect an Activis / W-C style release and campaign. Anything else is viewed as completely insane.
Which makes complete sense.
Their audience is their stockholders, not the media. They need to write a release that tells investors the deal is fiscally sound.
Yahoo! and Tumblr are most concerned that Tumblr users see this as a cool, quirky deal reflecting the cool, quirky culture of Tumblr and that they dont disengage with the platform. Because investors would not so much like that.
Dan’s article is likely quite right about the reasons coverage is so unbalanced.
If medical companies see consumer-style PR results as a goal, they should (and sometimes they really should) hire creative agencies and give them leeway to do so. Until then I think we’ll always see the imbalance that Dan points out – no matter how well intentioned journalists may be.
If you want a super creative, health care focused communications agency that understands the nuances of different audiences; I’d like to give a shout out to the good people at MacDougall Biomedical Communications. They rock. They’re creative. And they’re hiring.