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AstraZeneca earns an A+ for use of social media in news release

Thursday, 29-January-2015


Companies take note, AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) has shown the future of what corporate communications will look like.  This morning they put out a press release announcing a collaboration with a handful of institutions to use CRISPR technology as part of their drug discovery platform.  That is interesting news in and of itself given how only a handful of small private biotechs are currently working on CRISPR.  It is always newsworthy when a big company like AstraZeneca makes a move into an emerging technology like that.


However, what caught my eye as much as the news itself was the excellent way they delivered it.  Below is the first of a string of interesting tweets the company used to make the announcement:

Everything about this tweet is very well done and can be instructive for other companies who want to make the most of using social media as a communications tool.  For example, notice how AstraZeneca used a hashtag so that anyone searching on Twitter for #CRISPR would come across their tweet.  Also, they did a great job of keeping it interesting by using an informative photo to catch viewers' attention.  Anything multimedia is important because it helps you stand out in the sea of tweets that people wade through each day.  


Just about the only thing AstraZeneca got wrong was that they didn't include their stock symbol and cashtag (by listing it as $AZN) in the tweet.  I can understand why companies, especially in biotech, don't like to do that since it might appear to associate everything with money.  However, using a cashtag has become the accepted way of cataloguing corporate news these days.  By writing the tweet that way, it will be easier for people to search for your company and find news later on if they missed it live.  I would recommend using a cashtag in every tweet you send out.




AstraZeneca's excellent use of social media didn't just end there.  In subsequent tweets, and in the body of the actual press release itself, they included a short YouTube video that explains what the CRISPR technology is all about.  A very smart idea.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is even better.  A lot of people might not have heard of CRISPR yet, and their video does a good job of illustrating the basics.


Video is starting to play a much larger role in social media lately.  There are two reasons for that: 1) smartphone screen sizes are becoming larger and 2) bandwidth is getting faster.  If you don't already use video now, I would highly recommend testing the waters because it is only going to grow in importance over time as a format.


Showing the way for other biotech companies


As I mentioned in a post last week, a lot of companies are still very reticent to use social media as a way of releasing news even though the SEC has formally blessed it as a communications tool.  That's a shame because interactive news is what investors and other stakeholders want in this day and age.


Not only do many companies not use social media accounts at all, but the majority of the ones who do mostly just use them for the bare minimum right now.  You will notice that many corporate accounts only tweet out plain vanilla links to their press releases.  There is rarely multimedia included, and almost never any interaction with other users.


If that is all you do, you might as well not even have a Twitter account because it provides little reason for people to follow you (or even care).  What makes social media special is its ability to tell a richer message.  AstraZeneca has done a good job of embodying that today.  I would recommend that all companies take note and learn from how they have rolled out this CRISPR news.  It is the future of what corporate communications will look like. 


Who Am I?
Brad Loncar

I'm an individual investor from Kansas City.  My focus is on biotech stocks, but I enjoy investing in all industries. I'm an old-school, buy and hold investor who believes the best way to outperform and grow capital is to own innovative companies with good management teams over the long-term. more>>

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