Digital Healthcare Q&A: Kevin King

Kevin King, managing director of client services at Edelman Digital, talks to PRWeek via e-mail about the changing role between traditional healthcare PR and digital practices. Nearly 30% of the Edelman Digital clients are healthcare, including Bayer Pharmaceuticals and the American Heart Association.

Kevin King, managing director of client services at Edelman Digital, to PRWeek via e-mail about the changing role between traditional healthcare PR and digital practices. Nearly 30% of the Edelman Digital clients are healthcare, including Bayer Pharmaceuticals and the American Heart Association.

What seems to be the buzz from healthcare clients right now?
Healthcare has always recognized the importance of Web 2.0 and social media, but has struggled to be a part of it due to legal and regulatory concerns – everyone knows this. We are now starting to see healthcare trying and actually launching some innovative initiatives and overcoming these concerns. There is a sense that companies are tired of all the talking (and there has been a lot of talking in healthcare) – they want to get ideas to market.

What are they looking for in terms of digital components?
Healthcare clients are starting to recognize how people are searching for information and the need to publish content and information in a way that is relevant to those searches. From a pure tactical standpoint, if you don't have a blog, your company or brand information is invisible to someone conducting a blog search on Technorati. Information created by someone else will be the only thing that is visible. Same would go for video content searches on Google video or message board content searches on a site like Boardreader. Our clients are looking for ways to be seen across all channels on the Web. Simply put -- our clients are looking to us to help them publish content and information in a format that is relevant to the way their audience is searching.

How has the relationship between traditional healthcare PR been shaped by the addition of a digital division?

It's interesting but I see this the other way around – digital is being shaped by traditional healthcare PR. I had more of a marketing background before coming to Edelman. One of the key reasons I made the move to Edelman was my belief that PR firms were well positioned to connect and build relationships with people online the same way they had been offline for years. Ultimately digital helps keep pace in an ever changing environment. The influencers, technology, channels, etc. are always changing. The digital team works with healthcare PR to help keep up with that change and adapt to it.

What healthcare-related social networking sites are you, and the digital team at Edelman, keeping an eye on?
Sermo is the obvious one. A year ago healthcare was still often questioning whether physicians were online. Sermo has eliminated any questions and shown that they aren't just online – they are networking with each other. From a consumer standpoint sites like daily strength are interesting.  Ultimately we are still seeing the largest healthcare communities on the social network sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Gather.

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