What’s Up in PR this week?
Sixth Annual Survey Finds Consumers Prefer Ease-of-Use even over Trust
The Sixth Annual Makovsky PR /Kelton “Pulse of Online Search” Survey sent to 1,035 Americans ages 18 and older revealed even though the doctor-patient relationship remains paramount to healthcare, patients seek information online to better understand conversations held with healthcare professionals – particularly regarding treatment options.
Tom Jones, SVP and Practice Director at Makovsky Health, said, “Online search is an essential part of consumer self-care and health education, but the way in which consumers leverage these resources continues to evolve. In this year’s survey, we saw significant shifts in consumer use of government agency health sites – calling out these sources as highly trustworthy, yet at the same time, few feel they are easy to use. Understanding this tug-of-war between trust and ease-of-use, in which ease-of-use ultimately wins, is incredibly important for health communicators and marketers seeking to reach consumers.”
Consumers are also moving from symptom-focused searches to treatment-focused research. The majority of patients now tend to ask for prescriptions by name, and they come to doctor appointments with more information than ever before wanting an active part in treatment discussions and decisions.
The survey also showed Millennials may be the most receptive generation to advertising from pharmaceutical companies, across multiple channels. But something all providers, whether physicians, pharmacists, drug companies or online medical information websites should know … if the information is hard to access, a website is not easy and intuitive to use, or a physician is unwilling or unable to share information easily, patients are likely to move to a source that is easier to use, even if that means they give up some of the level of trust in the process.
Though consumers trust their doctors at about a 95% level, they still are more likely this year than ever before to research online before and after their doctor visits, reviewing treatment options and alternative medications. Maybe not surprisingly, Millennials are the most tuned into pharma information and advertising. The survey found that 51% of Millennials are motivated by advertising, including print, online, and television ads to check out a pharma-sponsored website. Only 26% of Baby Boomers and 36% of GenXers do that. Though for all generations, television is still the best way to reach them.
Only 13% of consumers trust a celebrity for a medical endorsement, though by generation, Millennials ranked highest in that category as well, at 22%. If you want more information about the Survey, visit www.makovsky.com.
Regan Communications Threatens Suit Against Suffolk University
Regan Communications Group was recently fired by Margaret McKenna, President of Suffolk University. Regan accused the university in a letter of illegally breaching the contract between the two sides that lasted more than 20 years and threatened a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
Lawyers representing Mr. Regan accused McKenna of canceling the contract “as a result of your animus toward (Regan Communications Group) and Mr. Regan.” The five-page letter, a copy of which was provided to the Herald, said Suffolk could owe “over $500,000 for its breach of contract, and you could owe RCG close to $2 million” after a lawsuit.
According to the letter, McKenna wanted “Mr. Regan to do whatever he could to convince Andrew Meyer to step down as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.” But McKenna turned against him when he refused. The letter also said Regan warned her that she “caused Suffolk to engage in some extreme spending and had used Suffolk funds for personal travel” and that she was abusive to her staff.
Greg Gatlin, the spokesman for Suffolk University, said all of the assertions were “false and defamatory.”
In his statement, he continued, “The letter itself is a thinly veiled threat to President McKenna personally and an attack on the university to which she is deeply committed. President McKenna is working with the Suffolk community to move forward after a difficult period and is focused on the future success of the university.”
Regan, also issued a prepared statement, saying the letter “is about making sure that Margaret McKenna honors Regan Communications’ contract with Suffolk University and acknowledges our 27-year commitment to turning the school into a world-class higher education institution.”
Regan’s attorneys said if the PR firm is paid $31,623, the money the firm is purportedly still owed, and monthly payments of $21,082 through 2017, they will not file the suit. However, if that amount is not paid by April 5, “I will assume that you and Suffolk have no desire to resolve this matter without litigation and will proceed accordingly.”
Peppercomm adds Mike Friedin as Managing Director for Digital
Peppercomm PR announced Mike Friedin will fill the position of Managing Director, Digital. Serving as the lead for digital strategic and operational efforts in Peppercomm’s New York, San Francisco, and London offices. Bringing significant talent to Peppercomm’s efforts in connecting people, brands, and messages using digitally progressive work, pushing boundaries, and mitigating risk for clients.
Friedin brings a depth of talent and expertise from his background as a consultant for companies such as GE, Johnson & Johnson, Time, and Pfizer. Most recently he served as a senior exec at Accenture in their Digital Transformation division. And his position before that was President at Matthew & Grace, a management consultancy.
Municipal Communications with PR Firm not privileged according to Judge
Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District Court ruled attorney-client and work product privilege doesn’t apply regarding communications between the Town of Mamakating and the West End Strategy Team in the case regarding discrimination by the municipality against Hasidic Jews. The Judge ordered the Mamakating and the PR firm to comply with the previously issued subpoena to supply records.
Judge Forrest referenced the town’s “sweeping and rather brazen” approach as they also failed to collect, review, and log the communications.
“Beyond the fact that no principle of law supports the town defendants’ blanket invocation of privilege as to all communications with an outside public relations firm, and in the absence of any competent evidence sufficient to meet the town defendants’ burden of showing that either privilege applies, the court is left without any basis to find that the town defendants have made the compelling case necessary to warrant quashing plaintiffs’ subpoena.” She further ordered that the parties decide on a collection method within the week since the discovery deadline is May 31.
The lawsuit stems from a plan to build a religious school, a ritual Jewish bath, and 396 housing units in the Village of Bloomingburg located in Mamakating in Sullivan County.
Plaintiffs claim there was widespread support for the development until it became known that it was meant mainly for the Hasidic community.
West End was signed to consult with the municipality on use of media, drafting and disseminating collateral materials to the media, and litigation support efforts beginning March 2015 through May 2015 for the sum of $25,000.
According to Forrest, since the PR firm was contracted by the town and not their attorney, there is no privilege attached under the 1961 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, U.S. v. Kovel, 296 F.2d 918. Other cases have found differently regarding PR firms, but Judge Forrest said there was nothing to show certain communications were protected since there was no proof that West End did anything other than distributing information to the public.