Our interview ‘New Media: hype or trend?’

We were asked for an interview in a personnel magazine of a pharmaceutical company for which we are doing some New Media activities. Read it for yourself:

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New Media is hot. All around us we are confronted with New Media jargon: Web 2.0 and blogging, RSS and podcasting. It all started some years ago on the consumer side, but more and more companies are now also investigating business opportunities in new media. We spoke with three people who are currently broaching this brave new world of communication; Luke Bragg, Erik van der Zijden and René van den Bos.

Before we delve into the topic of new media, René puts the evolution of the past decade into perspective for us. “We just got used to the internet revolution of the mid 1990s (also known as Web 1.0) when the New Media revolution started. Web 1.0 gave us access to an incredible amount of information, just a click away. However, this was actually just a one-way street and very much driven by commercial opportunities. Anyone who developed a website was able to provide its visitors with information, but it was not possible to respond to that information other than sending an e-mail to the owner of the site. These responses were not accessible for other consumers, so opinions could not be shared. Nowadays, the internet is much more consumer driven; anyone is able to put any kind of information on the internet without having to pay a cent. The web has become a two-way street, called Web 2.0. We can compare it to our new third generation global intranet, which allows collaboration, content management and document sharing.”

Erik adds: “Simply put, Web 2.0 provides platforms on the internet where communities are created between users with the sole purpose of sharing information in the broadest sense. New media also brings new opportunities to business and organizations. It offers them a better understanding of the needs of their customers and a better alignment of the services they provide. It offers a platform for discussion with customers and employees. New Media enable people to talk with each other and with organizations and businesses.”

Create awareness
As a true eBusiness manager, Luke is very enthusiastic about the possibilities. “Take podcasting, for example. A podcast is a downloadable audio or video file, in itself not a very new thing; we have been able to download files for many years now. What makes podcasting so unique is that you can subscribe to a series of podcasts using a technology called RSS. This technology allows computers to ‘speak’ to each other and periodically check to see if a new podcast has been added. If so, the podcast is automatically downloaded to your computer or MP3 player and can be played when and where you like it.”
A lot of the tools mentioned above can also be used for internal communications. That is why they have started a pilot project for using internal podcasting as a new communication tool. The objective was clear: to create more awareness about a product and increase understanding of the different roles departments play during product development.

René explains: “Developing pharmaceutical products is a very specialized process involving many departments. Although we would like to be seen as a transparent company where we all know what other departments are doing, in reality this is not always the case. Podcasting can be used as a lively tool to improve our understanding of each other’s role in the process by letting the people tell their own story in their own words and share these experiences digitally.”

Real people telling real stories
Key processes involved in the development of the product, such as R&D, Production, Marketing and Sales, were identified. The next step was to organize interviews with the people responsible for those processes and record these conversations on video. A platform on SharePoint was created where the video files would be stored.

“Up to now, we have put 4 episodes online: Introduction to Podcasting, Branding, The Toolkit, and Research and Development. By the time you read this, we will have also completed the Marketing and Introduction in the UK episodes,” Erik elaborates. “The nice thing about the podcast series is that it really gives a sneak preview of what happened behind the scenes at a particular department. Real people are telling real stories. Of course we cannot show everything in only 8 minutes, but at least it gives us a starting point for future discussions. The reactions so far were very positive, certainly an incentive to rollout this tool for other events.”

“We also developed a training podcast for another pharmaceutical product,” René adds. “In this podcast, we filmed a sales rep visiting his customers in order to show them how to position this product against other products in this range. We also hear the sales rep and the veterinarian’s stories and start to understand them better. And then we can help our sales people by optimizing the positioning of the product against its competitors, which should lead to more successful sales visits.”

Opportunities
In conclusion, Luke says, “Although sometimes seen as hype, I am convinced that new media is here to stay and will have a great impact on both our personal and work life. Many new media tools have the ability to convey ‘voice’ and ‘expertise’. For companies, where openness and expertise are traditional strengths, many opportunities lie ahead.”

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