Is There a 12-Step Program for That?

Yet again, I have taken a break from writing my blog. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing it, but sometimes, you just need a break. I have been freelancing like you wouldn’t believe – in fact, it is arguable that I may be working too much. I have been working various contract assignments for agencies in my area, in addition to taking pretty much every freelance writing assignment that comes my way.

Really, I look at it as symptomatic of freelancing. It can be such a sporadic line of work that we’re often afraid that if we don’t take every assignment that comes our way, the proverbial wellspring will dry up and we’ll have no assignments at all.

So, is there such a thing as balance when you’re always looking for your next opportunity? I wish I knew. In the meantime, I plan to continue working as much as possible until I find my next permanent job.

Still Waiting…
During my travels as a freelance writer, I’ve been working in the mad, mad world of pharmaceutical advertising. While many creatives dread the field, I think it’s interesting because it’s as much about building relationships as it is about building brands. In this world, you’re building a product’s credibility within the industry and have the opportunity to potentially save lives.

One reason why pharma agencies seem to like me is my vast experience with social media and blogging, which is something I would love to do on a full-time basis. However, the problem is that the FDA has not made any decisions yet as to how digital communication should be regulated – 14 companies were given warning letters last April because of search engine ads that allegedly violated presentation of fair balance and disclosure-of-risk information. Really, can you hold a 14 word ad on google to the same standards as a journal ad or a TV spot?

The drug manufacturers themselves have even offered possible solutions to the mess – creasting an advisory board, for one, but also offering an icon that would be along the lines of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” which immediately identifies content that has been regulated and approved.

The audience is there – go to twitter and search for a particular drug or disease state and you will find patients who want to talk. Why the hold-up?
I find it interesting that the FDA, though skittish about allowing pharmaceutical manufacturers to use social networking platforms for dispensing drug information and answering patient questions, had no problem offering a live tweet-stream of its proceedings on digital marketing last November. Hypocritical much?

No word on when the FDA will make up its mind.

Add This to the Bookshelf
I just read a review of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rework and I’m dying to get my hands on it. This is the book you wish you’d written – smart, savvy, and so full of common sense like:
  • Rethinking what we know about marketing
  • The customer is king
  • Implementation is as important as the “big idea”
  • The need to focus on the actual issue at hand
  • Why you should emulate drug dealers
This quick and powerful read outlines the rules for the new rule-breakers of the business world, and is especially for those who claim they hate business books.

Adieu, Garfield
Bob Garfield, my favorite curmedgeon at Ad Age, is finally stepping down after 25 years. Read his final thoughts on the crazy ad business.

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