Roche's Sabine Kostevc

Digital Pharma: A Year in Digital (3/5)

pharmafile | December 14, 2009 | Feature | Medical Communications 2009, Roche, digi, digital pharma, year in review 

A number of Roche’s own interactive educational initiatives, such as those explaining biotechnology or what it takes to develop a drug, had very good feedback from users this year.

But, given the regulatory restrictions on pharma communications, I tend to look outside our own area for inspiration. So I will focus on the non-pharma ‘digital’ initiatives that particularly impressed me by reaching different audiences, educating, entertaining or just delivering their corporate message.

Favourite use of digital (non-pharma)

Siemens has been running an integrated campaign, Siemens Answers, to rebuild its image as a technology leader and responsible global citizen. The campaign combines online and offline activities, with a monthly newsletter, print and TV adverts, a website and some mobile applications. One example of their digital activities that really stood out was their coverage of the Salzburg & Bregenz Festspiele, for which Siemens streamed a number of concerts online and to large screens in public places.

Favourite social media initiative (non-pharma)

The recent launch of a new TV spot for a Nespresso coffee maker. This was introduced through a campaign on Facebook and Twitter, which led users to a website where they could choose and vote for three different story endings to the advert – all with full cross-connection back to Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, they use these tools for brand activities and reserve their YouTube Channel for corporate topics.

Most significant online event for pharma in 2009

I wasn’t able to make it in person to Digital Pharma 2009 in Bridgewater, NJ, but it was so well covered and integrated in social media via tweets, blogs and video streams that it almost felt like being there. So it was in itself a case study of the use and value of social media.

Similarly, the collaboration of the healthcare online community – bloggers, communicators and consultants following the FDA hearing on social media and the internet was another great example of the power and value of social media. Speakers set up surveys to collect input and data for the hearing, presentation drafts were shared and a dedicated website was even set up to consolidate all the streams of information, from FDA information and streaming links, to presentations and reports from the event, all brought together in a collective effort using open document sharing.

How would you summarise pharma’s use of digital in 2009?

To a large extent pharma is still concentrating on classic online offerings, with some additional subscription-only services and tools thrown in for healthcare professionals that aim, for example, to increase the use of CME or provision of mobile services.

Anything aimed at the wider general public and patients is bound by regulatory restrictions and therefore not all aspects of digital media can be exploited. But there are a few initiatives testing the waters for greater engagement through new social media channels, by providing content and education in communities, via YouTube, Facebook etc.

Sabine Kostevc is head of corporate internet and social media at Roche headquarters in Switzerland, where she manages the corporate internet presence and global webmaster network.

She developed company web standards and led the award-winning re-launch of in 2008, introducing social media functionalities such as sharing, rating and feedback options to the corporate website, as well as enhanced multimedia press releases. Sabine also started the use of Twitter (@Roche_com) in corporate communications.

Over the next week some of European pharma’s foremost digital exponents have kindly agreed to share their online highlights from the year. The series continues tomorrow with Bayer Schering Pharma’s head of digital marketing and sales (general medicine) Len Starnes.

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