BOSTON: A new company hoping to revolutionize the way physicians interact with one another has chosen Perkett Public Relations as its first PR agency after looking at 15 agencies during a lengthy review process.
Sermo was launched in September as a forum for physicians to discuss anything from the latest medical break-through to problems with new drugs. It has attracted substantial attention in its first months, with more than 6,000 physicians already signed up. Last week, the site received $9.5 million in Series B funding.
Perkett emerged from the review process after offering more attention for a competitive cost, said Gina Ashe, chief marketing officer for Sermo. The virtual agency has no overhead costs, and has people on both coasts and the Midwest. Ashe said at least one agency refused to work with the startup because they also had pharmaceutical companies as clients.
"PR has been instrumental for us already," Ashe said. "Objective third party credibility and endorsement was key. Perkett is pulling content from Sermo that is reflective of the way physicians are thinking now and we're leveraging that voice and using PR as a way for the physician community to have a voice."
The company was founded by Dr. Daniel Palestrant after the surgeon noticed that many doctors spotted early warning signs that Merck's painkiller Vioxx was deeply flawed long before the controversy erupted, but that the doctors had no way to determine how important the signs were.
Already, the new venture has attracted attention from both the media and the medical community. In, November CNNMoney called the site a "MySpace for physicians." Sermo's business model allows trends and information coming from the physicians to be seen by government health organizations, financial services firms, and industry analysts. Ashe said the site is currently growing by around 600 doctors per week.