GlaxoSmithKline to engage media on state-by-state level

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC: GlaxoSmithKline is undertaking an extensive state-by-state media blitz as part of the ongoing efforts to boost its reputation.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC: GlaxoSmithKline is undertaking an extensive state-by-state media blitz as part of the ongoing efforts to boost its reputation.

This is the second phase in a campaign that the drug company launched last year.

In this wave, which kicks off in the fall, Glaxo will target local media markets in each state - outlets that do not often have the chance to communicate directly with pharmaceutical executives.

Michael Pucci, Glaxo's VP of external advocacy, noted that local reporters are generally less cynical - and perhaps less sophisticated - than the national media.

"These folks are hungry for news," he said at a recent conference on Communicating Pharmaceutical Value. "They'll print everything we say ? without the political spin."

Both the PR department and a separate reputation committee are leading the initiative.

In an interview, Pucci declined to discuss specific tactics until the company completes a pilot program in two states.

"We're going to find out if the efforts will move the needle," he said.

He also declined to name the two agencies working on the initiative.

The new state effort parallels grassroots outreach that Glaxo has employed since spring 2004. The company has used its sales representatives to deliver its message in front of the religious, fraternal, and other community groups to which they belong.

Pucci noted that he is heartened by the success of that effort, pointing to the latest Harris Interactive poll, which shows a 13-point improvement in the industry's reputation.

"Clearly the grassroots campaign is having an impact," he said. "Something is sticking."

The company has also forged a partnership with WebMD, launching the website plaintalkaboutmeds.com to address issues ranging from the cost of developing drugs to patient assistance programs.

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