What Are People Saying and How Do You Know?


Forgive me, but I think there was a seismic shift yesterday.  (I lived in L.A. for 10 years.)

Yesterday, my friend Tarsis in Chicago gave me the head’s up about the fact that the exceptional company Google had launched a new product area – Google Finance.  It is a very nice tool.  If you enter a stock name into your watch list, you get a very complete profile.  When I looked at the profile of the company I chose, there were all of the things I’d expect to see – company descriptions, stock performance table, lists of events, media.  Then I saw something I didn’t expect to see in the lower right corner – a list of the most recent blog postings that talked about the company.

Why am I talking about this and what does it have to do with FDA?  Well, it mostly has to do with communications.  Companies – pharmaceutical, biologics, device manufacturers and every other kind of company, all monitor media to see what is being said about them.  But how many of you are having your profiles monitored in BlogWorld? 

I know some companies already are.  But maybe you haven’t considered it an powerful source of information that can sway public opinion.  But when I saw Google’s Finance page, it occurred to me, with this tool in this place with this company (Google) – how outmoded regular media is by the little four letter word – blog.  Anyone’s thoughts can immediately appear on the financial profile page of your company in a matter of seconds – from their initial thought, through the keypad to your profile.  Instant.  Blogs just became louder and more powerful than ever before.   The power of google is controversial and the new site does have its critics, but it is hard to deny the potential impact. 

I have published a lot of magazine and newspaper articles.  They take days to float an idea, sell (and then, of course, there is the matter of the check which really can take a long time…).   You may send a query letter, then wait for a response.  You then write the article.  You wait to get it published.  Here, I put my thoughts down and I can publish them immediately.  I think more people have hit my blog site in the first month than bought copies of my last book.   (See column to the left…)

My point is this.  If you are media monitoring to see what is being said about your company and your product, you are doing something essential – but falling behind.  Because as of yesterday, with Google’s new product, when someone writes something down and hits "Enter", there is immediate notice going out, not only to whoever reads the blog, but straight to what will potentially be one of the most powerful financial review tools of tomorrow.   A blog posting about an adverse event, a gripe about a product or a rant against a company will be right there.  Think about the ways this tool can be used, and even manipulated.  To a large, established company like Merck, that may not be such a big deal, but to the smaller biologics that have not yet delivered a product to market, it could be. 

Twenty years ago very few people had email addresses.  Today, almost everyone does.  Twenty years from now, will people subscribe to magazines, or their favorite blogs? 

And what does this have to do with FDA?  Well, I think they ought to be blog monitoring as well.  Especially if Senator Grassley begins a blog….

Media monitoring has just become so "yesterday."  Everyone needs to begin blog monitoring as well – today.   By the way, Google has a Blog service where you can start a blog if you want to. 

And also, by the way, speaking of a time when most people did not have email addresses, Tarsis in Chicago has an excellent blog on alternative rock classics of the 1980’s. 

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