Monday, August 6, 2007

The Rost Self-Promoting Spin Machine is in Full Gear!

Since Peter Rost took control of the blog formerly known as BrandweekNRX -- the "Brandweek" part of the name has been dropped and it is now known simply as "NRx" -- he has been hard at work. Mostly he's been marketing himself, linking back and forth between NRx and his Question Authority blog, and spinning facts. When he cannot spin the facts, he just misquotes the facts.

NOTE: It seems that Nielsen Business Media, owner of Brandweek -- the trusted print publication formerly associated with NRx -- is busy putting some distance between Brandweek and the NRx blog. First, the name change, which is evident in the new logo although the URL still has "brandweek" in it. Second, if you go to the Nielsen page that lists its publications, you won't find BrandweekNRx blog mentioned in the "Brandweek" section. Consequently, if you are a new reader of NRx, you are not going to know the association, if any, between the blog and Brandweek! There's no "About" section or anything else that will tell you who's responsible for the blog unless you scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the copyright notice. And who besides me is going to do that?
A recent NRx post entitled "The most effective marketing" looks interesting until you actually read what Rost has to say, which is:
"The most effective marketing is the marketing you're not aware of," says Dr. Peter Rost, a one-time pharmaceutical company marketing executive who has become an Internet-based industry watchdog. "If you see an ad, you know it's marketing. But if a friend or your doctor talks to you about a drug, you don't."

Read the entire article "Under the influence" by By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer.
That's it! No analysis, no discussion, just pure self-promotion! Seems like this will be the tenor of NRx from now on.

When Rost isn't busy hogging NRx bandwidth with self-promotional posts, he's grasping at straws to counteract criticism. He is not above distorting facts to prove his case, which is not a very good attribute for a "journalist blogger."

For example, Rost didn't like the data I presented from the Pharma Blogosphere Reader Survey, which suggested to me that BrandweekNRx would lose credibility with its most important audience -- pharmaceutical executives (see my post here).

Rost says:
"In my prior post I described how industry consultant John Mack strongly suggested for Brandweek to fire me." (See here)
Unfortunately, as Rost well knows, I never strongly or otherwise suggested that Brandweek fire him.

What I said was:
"IMHO, Brandweek should seriously consider the data I have presented above, because it signals that BrandweekNRX may lose some of its credibility and usefulness, especially among its most important audience: pharmaceutical executives.

"Of course, you have to balance that against all the great publicity and perhaps greater readability that Rost will bring to BrandweekNRX."
Which to me seems like a balanced criticism. I even used "balance" in my quote! Never did I use the word "fire" nor did I call for Brandweek to take any action except to look at the data I presented.

If Rost is willing to twist comments from me to suit his own purposes, then one has to wonder how he twists comments in his coverage of the pharmaceutical industry. This may be a moot point since, to date, Rost has not done much coverage of issues of interest to the pharmaceutical industry on NRx.

Christiane Truelove, a true journalist, summarized my position very aptly in her "PharmaBlog Week in Review:"
John Mack over at the Pharma Marketing Blog was less than thrilled with the appointment. "There’s a saying us Brooklynites have to live with all our lives, no matter where we end up calling home: 'You can take the girl [boy] out of Brooklyn, but you can't take Brooklyn out of the girl [boy],'" he writes. "Which means, you can always recognize someone from Brooklyn by their accent and bias for their place of birth. Applying this to Rost at BrandweekNRX, you could say that, 'You can take Rost out of Question Authority [where he is anti-industry], but you can't all of a sudden expect him to be an unbiased journalist.'"
Truelove goes on to say, "For me, the appointment shows that bloggers can have the makings of good journalists." Good journalists, IMHO, do NOT distort the facts to defend THEMSELVES from critical reviews.

But I am not holding my breath for a retraction and apology from Rost for misquoting me. Let's just move on...

Rost really gets his spin machine in motion in his criticism of the Pharma Blogosphere Survey data. I did not make any friends with that survey! Every blogger who did not get a TOP rating dissed it instead of using the results to improve their blogs. Rost seems to be one of those disgruntled bloggers. He claims:
It turns out that in the "biggest pharma blog survey ever conducted," John didn’t really do a survey of pharma blog readers. He simply ended up with responses from his own readers of his Pharma Marketing Blog. Perhaps not surprising, since that's where the survey was done.
"It turns out"that this is a lie!

First of all, the survey was NOT done "from" my blog (Pharma Marketing Blog). It was done from right here on Pharma Blogosphere. It was advertised on my blog as well as other blogs that opted in to my invitation to get the notice to their readers. Rost even helped by linking to the survey on his blog.

Yes, 73% of the 144 or so respondents claimed they read Pharma Marketing Blog (this excludes those that Never or Rarely read it). A respectable 31% of the survey respondents also read Peter Rost's blog (Question Authority) and 73% of those people also read Pharma Marketing Blog.

If most respondents ALSO read my blog, that says more about the popularity of my blog than about "surveying ONLY my readers," which is how Rost sees it.

Besides, when we* did the analysis of readability, usability and credibility, we only included results from people who actually claimed to read the blogs in question at least occasionally and did not include opinions from readers who never read the blog. So, a blog's ratings are based on opinions of readers of that blog, not mine. If they just so happen to be readers of my blog, that is irrelevant to the analysis.
*I had help analyzing the data from an independent third party: Chris Pounds at Myriad Pharmaceuticals who is an experienced market researcher and who knows how to use pivot tables in Excel and how to exclude data that may bias the results.
You can read the survey summary here and download the raw data here.

Rost and I know that most people won't bother to download the raw data and do their own analysis. C'est la vie!


Anonymous said...

I've been a fan of yours for a couple of years, and to boot I am from Brooklyn. That said, I am a market researcher and the validity of your survey is nil. The sample is self-selected in the extreme and pulled only from a small list of blogs, including your own. You can not provide any facts about sampling bias in your data because you don't know what they are. You cite Dendrite as providing data based on smaller samples than yours - this doesn't prove that your survey is correct. I think you should give up your pissing match with Rost and let him dig his own hole if such is the case.


PharmaGuy said...

Thanks for your comments.

If by validity, you mean scientific validity, I never claimed that my survey was scientifically accurate. In fact, at the Las Vegas presentation where I first revealed the survey results, I specifically said it was not scientifically valid.

With regard to a "pissing contest" with Rost, let me just suggest that you are missing the main point -- which isn't about my little survey.

The point is how Rost spins things -- including my survey results -- and lies (eg, misquotes me) and how this reflects upon HIS credibility, NOT the credibility of me or my survey.

If you believe everything that Rost says, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that you may also want to buy!

Anonymous said...

I've always felt your "survey" was a bit of fun and I've never got the impression that even you have ever taken it too seriously (though correct me if I'm wrong).
I'm surprised the Doc has, though.

PharmaGuy said...


It was fun and hard work too! I am just sorry that it ended up offending more people than pleasing them. I guess I should have carved out the TOP TEN instead of the TOP FIVE!

What I hope it accomplished, along with all the other silliness here at Pharma Blogosphere, is getting a conversation going and promoting the whole enterprise.

Anonymous said...

How about a ceasefire in the endless pissing match between various pharmaceutical blog writers? Can you and Rost just get back to writing about the industry and stop writing about each other? Enough already! I'm about ready to stop reading BOTH your blogs. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

PharmaGuy said...

Thanks for your comment.

I am sure many people share your sentiment.

Since Pharma Blogopshere blog is about bloggers in this space, I feel it IS appropriate for me to write about other bloggers here. Perhaps I should have put my original post about Rost and BrandweekNRX here as well and not on Pharma marketing Blog.

I am sure that if you were misquoted that you would want to set the record straight. I have done that and am ready to move on.

Keep in mind that Rost has opened up a whole can of worms regarding blogging and journalism that is worthy of discussion. I am sure Christiane Truelove agrees. Otherwise she would not also waste so much time on Rost. What's good for the goose is also good for the gander!

So, expect me to continue to post on that topic here. I will stick to my pharma marketing knitting over at Pharma Market8ing Blog.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Rost is an excellent spinner, as shown by his ability to wind you up. Unfortunately, he's laughing while you're tearing your hair out - I think it best to drop this, mate, even if you are right. BrandweekNRx has become boring and self-referential. Give it up and let him sink or swim on his own.

btw - who's blog is this?

PharmaGuy said...

Thanks, shade, for your comments.

You're right. The main message here is the degradation of BrandweekNRX into a boring self-referential Rost spin machine! Of course, readership will spike just as this little controversy garnered more readers than more serious posts to this blog.

BTW, I write this blog.

Anonymous said...

But the trap is that you're becoming a boring, Rost-referential, self-spinning machine. Six of the seven posts on this page are about Rost. Don't you know there's no such thing as bad publicity? Unless you two have a behind the scenes, WWF agreement to pump up numbers.

I'm giving you both up and reading Pharmalot.

PharmaGuy said...

That's your prerogative. Toodle-loo!