I was interested in this for two reasons: first, the Jasper Clinic advertises with the Western Herald. Second, as a healthcare provider, what was their stance on participating in this medical trial?Have you ever thought about participating in a medical study? Here's a paid opportunity for men age 19-25: http://t.co/9zG1eLRcXh— WMU Health Center (@Sindecuse) September 3, 2015
I tweeted at them about it.
They pointed out that they had found the medical study through an ad on the Western Herald, which is accurate. The Jasper Clinic paid the Western Herald to buy an ad on our website, as do other organizations, like Hills at Law, a used textbook store, and a textbook rental business. On our website and in our print newspaper, we sell ads, which go to pay for the costs of creating the newspaper. Our ads are clearly advertisements - it's safe to say that no one assumes that "SAVE $$$ RENT YOUR BOOKS" is a piece of our editorial content.@Sindecuse Are you paid to promote Jasper Clinic? Do you know what this study is? Is there any potential harm to students? #WMU— Samantha Macy (@15seventeen) September 3, 2015
|The Western Herald website, with an ad for the Jasper Clinic in the bottom right.|
However, when the health center tweets about doing a medical study, it's reasonable to assume that they endorse it, and the university believes that participating in private medical studies is an activity that is good for students. To me, this is questionable - they don't know what this study is about, and they don't know what the long-term health risks might be. Would they also tweet a link where students could register to donate their plasma, eggs, or sperm? If they did, would they explain all of the possible risks involved?
Later, they tweeted a link to NIH information about participating in a medical study, which I think is important, and a smart PR move on their part.We do @15seventeen Medical advances may depend on research volunteers and we're grateful to them.— WMU Health Center (@Sindecuse) September 3, 2015
All of this brings up an important point - it is hard to predict how people will respond do social media posts on behalf of an organization, and people working in social media have to be aware of that. As a PR student, I will learn from this, and consider if links I am sharing have the endorsement of the organization.The NIH lists some things to know, and ask, before you participate in a clinical research study. http://t.co/lBacMhSKmX— WMU Health Center (@Sindecuse) September 3, 2015