Pfizer (PFE) is rolling out a "social media playbook" internally to advise employees on how to handle social networking sites and Twitter without embarrassing themselves or the company. The move is in parallel with Pfizer Canada's emergency blog response flowchart, which employees use to figure out whether to wade into a debate on a blog that may have gotten something wrong about the company. The Swiss company Roche (ROG.VX) published its social media playbook in August last year.
It's all a far cry from 2009, when Pfizer didn't have a Twitter account and its top PR man admitted that the company had an unwritten rule of not returning reporters' phone calls. At that time, shortly after it bought Wyeth, the company vowed to begin trying to communicate in plain English instead of in language only lawyers could read.
The blog response flowchart mostly appears to be common sense (click to enlarge):
Although perhaps it could have been shorter and simpler. It was based on a version produced by the U.S. Air Force. Pfizer also has its own blog site where its scientists opine about current issues; there are currently 196 posts.
At recent BlogWell conference (video below), Kate Bird, Pfizer's digital communications strategy director, said the company's main vehicle for crisis management is now Twitter:
Twitter is really the most-used channel for any type of crisis communication.Not everyone at the company is completely up to speed, she said. The social media playbook was introduced because some colleagues didn't want to touch it:
We don't want them to be intimidated and afraid of it. It's part of our everyday life. It's only going to become an even greater part of our everyday life ... I think a lot of our colleagues are just too intimidated to say, What is Twitter and why is it important and why should I even care about it?That explains in part why Pfizer was beaten to the @Pfizer Twitter handle by a fake, and the company's real messages go out on @Pfizer_News.