Study finds pharma firms' reputations tied to visibility

PRINCETON, NJ: As PR budgets within the drug industry become leaner, a survey by Roper Public Affairs has found that pharmaceutical companies that are less visible are also less likely to have favorable reputations.

PRINCETON, NJ: As PR budgets within the drug industry become leaner, a survey by Roper Public Affairs has found that pharmaceutical companies that are less visible are also less likely to have favorable reputations.

Pharma companies are the "most invisible" among six industries surveyed, said Brad Fay, managing director of Roper Public Affairs, the PR research arm of NOP World. Only 36% of respondents were familiar with the top five pharmaceutical industry leaders, down three points from the previous year. In addition, only 41% recalled seeing newspaper articles about the top five companies, a 5% decline from last year. Perhaps most significantly, people who were familiar with the top companies were more likely to have a favorable impression of the industry; on a scale of one to 10, familiar respondents gave the industry a 7.9, while others gave it a 6.2. Fay noted that drug-company recognition has been falling in part because of declining PR budgets and because of unbranded campaigns. "One of the things we've been telling clients is that they've got to communicate better," he said. He noted, for instance, that Johnson & Johnson, one of the most recognized companies, was also the most highly regarded. But Fay also said that drug companies were more likely to be associated with profits than social responsibility. "The social benefits are absolutely on the bottom of the list," he said. "Certainly you want the messaging to be consistent with your company objectives." A final finding of the survey found that healthcare was a top priority among 38% of the general public, coming in second only to terrorism. "We think this is a really dangerous time for pharma companies not to be engaged," Fay said.

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