Glaxo’s sales force shouldn’t also peddle PR

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Ill-advised. Ill-conceived. Ill-timed.

Those were just some of the responses from the overwhelming consensus of poll respondents who said the plan by GlaxoSmithKline to use its sales reps as PR ambassadors is a mistake.

"This is probably the worst PR idea I've heard of in a long time," wrote Agnes Shanley, editor of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine. "It is drug companies' sales teams that have helped destroy the drug industry's reputation in the U.S."

"This is a big mistake . . . a disaster in the making," New York-based consultant Michael Feldman wrote. "The effort is transparent and will appear to be self-serving."

Added Bill Jarman, president-CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based Concepts Inc.: "I'm left pondering why such a successful company would consider a strategy like this."

But there were diehards-all 9% of them-who favored the idea. "Kudos to Glaxo. PR pros know very well that employees can have tremendous impact on a company's brand image," wrote John Frew, president of New York-based Hamilton Group.

Others lauded GSK's plan to use the reps at the grassroots level by talking to Rotary Clubs, Elks and others. "This is an excellent idea. If you are not in the grassroots of your marketplace with your message, than where are you?" said James O'Brien, president of J. O'Brien Communications, St. Louis. "Our health-care delivery system is in meltdown and not enough people are talking about it intelligently. I applaud GSK for their leadership."

What you say: 91% of voters said they do not believe a plan by GlaxoSmithKline to use sales reps as PR ambassadors will improve the image of the company or the drug industry. The poll received more than 3,000 responses.

Next week’s question is "Will advertisers embrace having consumers create ads for their brands?" To submit your answer, log on to QwikFIND aao29v.

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