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A Few Words About The Johnson & Johnson Blogger Dinner
Johnson and Johnson invited a number of bloggers to a private dinner a few days ago in New York City to talk about social media and healthcare/pharmaceutical industry-focused blogs.  Among those attending were Ed Silverman of Pharmalot, Jim Edwards of BrandWeekNRx and Steven Palter, MD who writes docinthemachine Since the event, reaction from the blogosphere has been interesting to watch.  A big question some have been asking is whether dining on pharma’s dime will influence bloggers to view Johnson & Johnson more positively.  Blogger and journalist John Mack had this to say:

“But the question remains: Should we bloggers dine at pharma's table?  It did cross my mind that this could be an issue when I first suggested dinner, but I thought harder about it after a conversation with Jim Edwards before I left for vacation. He was concerned about how to pay for the dinner because he could not accept such a freebie. I see that he has worked out a way to do it as has Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot.

The majority of attendees of the J&J soiree were PR wonks or journalists -- birds of a feather that the J&J corporate communications people could easily relate to. Only two of the four journalist bloggers that attended have indicated what their policy is regarding accepting free gifts -- including dinner . . . Journalists like Ed and Jim just cannot accept any gratuity from the people they may be investigating and writing stories about. That seems pretty clear.”

The conversation continued at Peter Rost’s blog, Question Authority.  He'd never  heard of most of us who attended the event.  He said:  

“Anyways, lonely and miserable with no party, I checked the Alexa traffic ratings for those blogs, and most of them didn't even show up. That put me in a good mood again. After all, if I get invited to a party, I want bloggers who are read, not just have opinions (and I exclude Ed Silverman from Pharmalot and Jim Edwards from BrandWeekNRX in this rant, they are both fabulous writers and have incredible blogs with terrific traffic.)  And more by the way, the only one who has announced he paid his own tab is Ed Silverman. See how easy it is to corrupt bloggers! (If someone else did pay, just let me know in comment section.)”

I decided to clear up the matter regarding my policy on accepting free gifts from companies by leaving this comment on Rost’s blog:

“Thanks for your post. I'm sorry you've never heard of me, as my blog is read by a number of folks throughout the healthcare industry. As I like to say to my clients, reach is about more than Alexa numbers. 

I haven't said much about my attendance at the dinner, mainly because I didn't feel like I had to. However, I will say that yes, J&J picked up the tab for my food. I considered it an even exchange, as I got an opportunity to meet some of the folks there and they got to pick my brain about a host of issues relating to social media and healthcare blogs. The fact that I'm not only a blogger, but a communications consultant who works with a number of health companies, including pharma had a little something to do with it as well.  In certain cases, I have paid my own way -- primarily when I'm invited to dinner by folks I am covering on my blog. I also regularly disclose apparent or implied conflicts of interest when I'm writing about organizations.”

So, there you have it.  And yes, the food was very good.

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