Interview on Influencers and Digital Communication – Dr. Kristin Jakobs and Patricia Alves, Boehringer Ingelheim

5 minutes reading time

In close collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, pressrelations developed an influencer management and research tool that was nominated for the German Online Communications Awards. Read our interview with Dr. Kristin Jakobs, Head of Respiratory Communications at Boehringer Ingelheim, and Patricia Alves, Social Media Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim and member of the jury for the German Online Communication Awards 2016. The two communication experts talk about what they learned at the awards, the importance of influencers for digital corporate communication as well as the future of online communication.

pressrelations blog: Ms. Alves, you were a juror at the German Online Communication Awards. This year’s winner in the category influencer communication was Daimler with its Instagram Platform Strategy “Content Star”. What were the victor’s key success factors from the jury’s point of view? 

Patricia Alves: This year’s winner Daimler put an extraordinary amount of trust in its influencer community. Influencers were given free rein to post on behalf of Daimler on the company’s Instagram account, which was thereby transformed into a multimedia community platform.

Which qualities do you value in contestants? 

Patricia Alves: To me, creativity and a sound strategy are the most important criteria when it comes to evaluating a project. If the strategy works and the desired goal is actually met, nominees have a good chance at convincing me.

Do you have any recommendations for potential applicants to the Online Communication Awards 2017? 

Patricia Alves: Take your time to prepare for the presentation! When you approach the jury try to relax without losing your edge and don’t be nervous. We’re all nice people and we don’t bite. And here is some special advice for the application process: Consider submitting a summary of your application in video format – this is really helpful as it makes it a lot easier for us to decide on a shortlist.

Nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine successful public relations without professional online communication. Dr. Jakobs, what are the essential ingredients of online communication today, in your opinion? Which changes have you noticed over the years?

Dr. Kristin Jakobs: I believe that we have to be even more responsive to each individual target group and deliver content that actually matters to them. The business model for traditional media, in particular with regard to our field of interest, is still a different one. But in digital media, in online communication, target groups actively choose their own topics.

Which communication channels does Boehringer Ingelheim use for its online communication and why? 

Dr. Kristin Jakobs: We have our own accounts on various social media channels such as Twitter, YouTubeFacebook, Pinterest and Instagram and we like to try out new formats – we are always interested in new ways to reach our stakeholders in the best possible way. Moreover, our corporate website has also become an important tool of communication. We recently finalized a relaunch of our corporate website with a focus on target-group-specific information presented in a way that appeals to our target audiences.

By now, nearly 60 percent of companies have a team dedicated entirely to social media. Nevertheless, many of them don’t manage to reach a wide audience. Ms. Alves, what is it about Boehringer Ingelheim’s social media strategy that makes it so special? 

Patricia Alves: It’s very important for us to remain human in the social web. We are seeking to actively interact with our community. This should never be a one-way street but instead communication among equals.

Influencer Management is a hot topic right now. Your influencer tool, which you developed in close collaboration with pressrelations, was shortlisted in the “Portals” category at the German Online Communication Awards. How important are influencers to you in terms of corporate communication? 

Dr. Kristin Jakobs: Establishing contact and cooperating with opinion leaders or influencers has always been important. But in these times of increased digital communication it has become even more important, since these multipliers help you to attract more attention, to increase your credibility and to expand your reach when it comes to relevant topics.

How did you identify the influencers that are of relevance to your pharmaceutical company? How does pressrelations’ influencer tool support you in this task? 

Dr. Kristin Jakobs: Together, we developed and adapted the influencer tool so that it best suits our specific needs. For example, out of the large group of influencers we can filter those who focus on certain medical issues. We can create groups and address them directly. This helps us to avoid wasting efforts and resources and allows us to follow a more targeted approach.

Which target groups can you address via influencers? 

Dr. Kristin Jakobs: Basically, we are able to address all relevant target groups – patients and their families, patient advocacy groups, but also healthcare professionals (physicians, pharmacists) or contacts at health insurance companies.

Ms. Alves, Boehringer Ingelheim invites influencers to participate in so-called tweet chats. What does this mean? 

Patricia Alves: Tweet chats are interactive chats on Twitter, whose aim is to provide a forum for our community to talk to experts, giving them the opportunity to discuss specific topics or symptoms. We have already organized several successful tweet chats and we used the influencer tool to look for potential experts beforehand.

Which do you think are the most important trends in the field of online communication? Which developments do you believe to be more of a hype?

Patricia Alves: Virtual reality is a huge hype right now. It’s a much-discussed topic. I’m curious to see how this technology fares in the day-to-day life and in the working environment. 360-degree images and live posts on Facebook and Periscope are also on the list of next big things.

pressrelations blog: Dr. Jakobs, Ms. Alves, thank you for this interview.


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