You might remember my interview on Sanofi’s DX Diabetes Dish that was published a couple of weeks ago. This was a rare opportunity for me, a guy with a silly (sometimes about) diabetes blog to genuinely step into the spotlight. Things like this don’t happen often for me, so I did my best to make the most of the situation. Because I was approached as Chris, the diabetes blogger, I didn’t mention this to my bosses until it went live. At the time I didn’t think anything of my comment about preparing for Scientific Sessions. It was a harmless answer and I wasn’t making a big deal of where I work. Looking back I realize I should have cleared this response with someone.
I’m not a public-facing representative for the American Diabetes Association. Yes, I work at the home office. Yes, I have a diabetes blog. Yes, I’m too active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, wherever else. And yes, for what it’s worth, there are disclaimers that are meant to distance myself and my words from my place of employment. To that last one I’m still skeptical that those formalities actually mean anything, but better safe than sorry right?
After that first interview was posted I received a follow-up email from the author of that post asking if it was okay that my contact information be passed on to an associate who managed one of Sanofi’s other blogs. I didn’t think anything of it and agreed, but once I saw the questions for this second interview I knew serious caution had to be exercised.
While the first interview was about Chris, the guy with a diabetes blog, this second piece was about Chris, the guy who works for the American Diabetes Association and has a diabetes blog. You can read their piece on Scientific Sessions, and my thoughts on the conference here.
I try not to let work bleed into my personal tidbits that I share online. Aside from fundraising for Tour de Cure or Step Out, there’s absolutely no reason to share any part of my job with any of you. I don’t hide where I work from anyone, but where I work has nothing to do with the content of my blog or any other online interaction. If I choose to comment on a thread that may have something to do with Big Red, I disclose that information upfront. But I don’t walk around looking for those types of conversations to interject myself in to. Now you can see where this second interview might be a cause for concern – while I wouldn’t be speaking on behalf of the Association, and I did my best to disclose that in the formatting of the final article that was published, there’s a greater risk for shenanigans as the dividing lines between my professional and social lives blur.
So I played it safe, and smart. I told my bosses upfront about the interview opportunity and after they gave me the go-ahead I gave them my answers to the first part of the interview (the pre-sessions stuff) before I left for Chicago for review. This wasn’t a check to make sure my responses kept to proper branding standards or anything like that, but to make sure they would be comfortable with specific Assocation references. Ultimately I received a few grammar edits and a request to rephrasing one bit because I got too casual using the word “our” when talking about the diabetes community and the Association in the same sentence. I went through the same submission and approval process for the post-sessions questions and after I got a thumbs up my responses were delivered to Sanofi’s people. A week later, here we are.
It’s exciting to think that I may have a “personal brand” that other people and organizations might recognize. But as these opportunities come my way, I want to be clear about who is saying what and who approached whom. The content featured is entirely my own, but it did pass through my bosses and the communications team for feedback. However, their feedback did not alter the tone or content submitted to Sanofi for their story. This is still all my own doing.
tl;dr – My responses featured in this piece on Discuss Diabetes, while my own, were okayed by my bosses before submitting them to Sanofi. Full disclosure, and all that.
In other news, I’m moderating the first panel on the first day of Medicine X. In case you don’t want to click the link, the panel is the second part of the opening sesson of Friday’s “Patient neXt”. And I quote, “This session will examine the evolving definition of what it means to be a patient in 2013. We will look at the evolution of the patient relationship – patient-patient, patient-caregiver, and patient-doctor – and the role technology and empowerment can play to involve patients in their own care.”
I’ll share more details about the panel as I get them. Exciting, eh?