--Guest post by Xiao He, American University graduate student.

Developments in Web marketing and social media provide new platforms and strategies for pharmaceutical companies to interact with investors. Among the important dimensions of a company considered by investors include profits and revenue, track record of innovation, and social responsibility.  

The homepage for Johnson & Johnson presents a leading example of how a company attempts to manage its image and reputation online.  Entering the Johnson & Johnson homepage, three pictures structure the interpretation of the company for visitors. Prominent images emphasizing social responsibility are labeled “keep children safe”, “Eliminating Pediatric AIDS”, and “stopping deadly infections."  The page also emphasizes the action words “help”, “commit”, and “donate” to structure visitor attention and navigation around a social responsibility emphasis.

Other points of emphasis at the page frame the company in terms of innovation. For instance, as Senior Director Patrick McCrummen tells visitors, he looks forward to seeing where the next five years takes Johnson & Johnson as they continue to look for innovative ways to reduce environmental impact and strengthen their corporate citizenship.

Johnson & Johnson also uses Twitter strategically, providing regular updates that relate to its social responsibility activities engaging with the community. Specifically, it often connects itself with health campaigns or public awareness efforts. As a result, when people think about the attributes of Johnson & Johnson, they will think of a company that dedicates itself to global heath services and socially meaningful activities.

Although innovation is an essential factor considered by investors, there is less emphasis across drug company web sites on innovation than on social responsibility. Eli Lilly is one prominent exception.  For example, as it prominently features at its web site, Eli Lilly defines itself in terms of innovation, emphasizing that "innovation is personal," an appeal aimed at recruiting top employees.   As the company also emphasizes at its landing page:

Familiar ways of working aren't working anymore, so Lilly is transforming to meet the challenges head on — from how we make medicines to how we talk about them. Throughout our organization, we're asking tough questions and discovering better answers.


--Xiao He is a graduate student in the MA program in Public Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. Read other posts from her course on Public Communication Theory.