Pharma Needs To Learn To COPE

2012 has been a year of innovation in mhealth, wellness and prevention start-ups, a focus on EMR and patient/doctor communications, and much discussion about big data. 

As these issues continue to blossom, I am observing a delay within pharmaceutical companies in the area of efficient, streamlined content development. Today, content and technology are one, and I’m not sure our clients’ processes and organizational structures are built for this new world. First, brands within a franchise often operate as silos. The limited strategy, resources, analytics and content sharing is a huge missed opportunity for learning, cost efficiency and speed to market. 

Our friends in Med/Reg are inundated with copy review sessions, and the backlog often creates delays in expected promotional launch timelines. What if content that is common across brands within a franchise was shared? Reviewed once, leveraged 100 times? Imagine the possibilities…

Create once, publish everywhere (COPE)

COPE, coined by Daniel Jacobsen of NPR in 2009, is the ability to produce a single piece of content in multiple formats (mobile, text, PDF, etc.) and post it to many different destinations (multiple pages, sites, and Web servers) is more important than ever. 

Now with the growing need and ability to be portable comes a tremendous opportunity for content providers. This concept will require substantial changes in pharma company thinking and their systems.

Through COPE, NPR systems enabled incredible growth despite having a small staff with limited resources. Although their system was home-grown, any system that adheres to these principles, whether an off-the-shelf product, home-grown, or anything in between, will see the benefits of content modularity and portability.

Jacobsen provided the following basic principles, which I believe are applicable when thinking about developing content for our healthcare clients:

1. Build CMS, not WPT

The goal of any Content Management System should be to gather enough information to present the content on any platform, in any presentation, at any time. WPT’s (Web Publishing Tools) capture content with the purpose of publishing web pages. As a result, they tend to manage the content in ways focused on delivering it to the web only. Plug-ins are available for distribution to other platforms, but attempting to manipulate content for alternate destinations makes the system inherently unscalable. 

True CMSs are really just content capturing tools that are completely agnostic as to how or where the content will be viewed, whether it is a web page, mobile app, TV or radio display, etc. 

2. Separate content from display

Separating content from display is one of the key concepts supporting COPE, says Jacobsen. In its most basic form, the presentation layer needs to be a series of designed templates that know how to pull content from the library. This enables the presentation layer to care about how the content will look while the content can be display-agnostic, allowing it to appear on a web site, a mobile device, etc.

“But to truly separate content from display, the content repository needs to avoid storing “dirty” content. Dirty content is content that contains any embedded presentation layer information, including HTML, XML, character encodings, micro-formats, or any other markup or rich formatting information. This separation is achieved by the two other principles – content modularity and content portability.”

3. Use technology to ensure smooth portability of the content. 

The Application Programming Interface (API) must facilitate a smooth distribution of the same content to any platform in a way that each platform can manage. COPE, if effectively employed, will generate a very large audience for a single piece of content, thanks to its compatibility with all kinds of platforms. The key is to create captivating and relevant content that can really make an impact on users. 

After all, relevance of message and value proposition are key … whether employing COPE or a traditional bespoke delivery plan. Content devices, platforms, and delivery are becoming more complex. Our approach to these changes must retain a strong editorial approach in addition to advances in technology. 

I’m looking forward to a new year, and possibly a new way to COPE with the exciting world of content relationship marketing!

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2 comments about "Pharma Needs To Learn To COPE ".
  1. Casey Quinlan from Mighty Casey Media LLC , December 28, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.
    Sing it, sister! However, getting pharma to actually pay attention to this stellar idea will require the attachment of ROI metrics, since (to quote a pharma-marketing expert I know) pharma doesn't flip a light switch without an ROI assessment. They're stuck for the foreseeable future on spending buckets of $$s on mainstream media "ask your doctor about" pushes, hand in hand with spraying the landscape with listening-free social exhaust. Seriously, though, I hope some of the smart early-adopter types in or near pharma C-suites reads this. Really.
  2. Kelley Connors from KC Healthcare Communications LLC , January 5, 2013 at 10:37 a.m.
    Agree with you both! With the growth of the healthy aging population and chronic disease, there's much common content that can be leveraged across silos. The content should mirror evidenced-based medicine which shows that healthy lifestyle changes can pretty much stop the progression of or reverse cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Core content plus sharing real stories disseminated efficiently. What's not to love about that? Without pharma's participation, it will happen anyway but the lack of real authentic pharma content just adds to the non-compliance, especially among women who search for and trust other women's experience just as much as they search for "experts"...