Q&A With Amy Tenderich, ...


amy tenderich blogAmy Tenderich highlighted her gonzo journalism style in the first half of the interview yesterday.

What I particularly like about her blog is the eclectic mix of content shared with a conversational tone.

As Amy puts it, her philosophy for attracting readers is simple -“Fresh content gets attention.”

I ran the first part of the interview yesterday. Here’s the second half.

Q: An advocacy theme comes through loud and clear on your blog.

A: You can go to any website and read about a drug for diabetes, but you don’t really know the effects until people use it over a period of time. For example, there’s a drug called Victoza for Type 2 diabetes that was approved by the FDA last year. The dosage is tricky. Our site has become the default user forum for Victoza. I did a post called “The Jury’s Still Out on Victoza” that got over 600 comments and continues to get comments today.

Note: If you plug “Victoza” into Google, the post comes up fourth, showing the power of content relevance (and perhaps that those Google algorithms put a premium on posted comments).

victoza search

Q: It’s not practical to respond to over 600 comments.

A: There’s no need to. The conversation takes its own course driven by the community. I do read all the comments and will weigh in if someone specifically addresses me.

Q: It must be satisfying to make this type of difference.

nick lozarA: It’s a great feeling. We’re there for each other. For example, a marine was diagnosed with diabetes and was going to be kicked out the service. He fought the process through education and eventually won. This type of story inspires others.

Note: U.S. Marine Nick Lozar penned a guest post with this opener: “The United State Marine Corps. The few. The proud. The diabetic?”

Q: After doing this for so many years, do you ever have days when it’s tough to come up with a topic for a post?

A: Are you kidding? Every morsel that goes into your mouth matters. There’s the social side to diabetes. There are the drugs. There are the gadgets. The complexity around diabetes means I never run out of topics.

Q: I love the conversational tone in your writing.

A: From day one, I imagined myself sitting across the table from another person and talking. That’s the way I write.

Q: The realness of your posts can certainly get one’s attention, like your recent post called “Losing Control.”

A: It helps to periodically vent.

Seven years into this thing, I think I am officially experiencing diabetes burnout – in the form of food rebellion, that is.  My numbers have been crap, and I am feeling disgusted with myself. Sound familiar, anyone? …

I am SO TIRED of watching people around me enjoy pancakes, cupcakes, French Fries, pasta – even something as supposedly healthful as crab cakes, which I can never order in restaurant as they are always doused in flour.  When is it my turn to enjoy yummy foods again? When I’m dead? …

It’s a big fat guessing game, and I am tired of it. I suppose my current attitude is simply: Why try? I know that’s not sustainable; I’m struggling to ‘get it together’ again.  I hope y’all don’t mind my venting, but I figured it might do somebody some good out there to know that we PWDs are all riding the same roller coaster. {insert rebel yell!}
Losing Control
                    “Diabetes Mine,” March 4, 2011

Q: Do you see social networking evolving from generic platforms like Facebook to social networks based on special interests? Because that’s really what you’ve created.

A: I think so. If I wasn’t friends with you in high school, why would I want to be friends with you now? Plus, people don’t want their aunts, uncles and business colleagues hearing a stream of talk about their diabetes. That’s why specialized social networks work well in health care.

Q: After putting your heart and soul into the blog for so many years, was it tough to sell the property?

A: I had been consulting to Alliance Health Networks since 2008, so we knew each other. The trust was there. They had a blueprint for expanding the community called Diabetic Connect, which I started running as the community manager. But back then they wanted my input on what they should do. What they shouldn’t do. They listened to me, which again built the trust.

Q: What’s ahead?

A: I mentioned Diabetic Connect. It’s all about how we can serve our audience. For example, we created what’s called the “DiabetesMine Design Challenge,” which is a contest for designing a new diabetes gadget or Web app. It’s a $25K innovation competition thanks to support from the California HealthCare Foundation and IDEO Design. I’m also speaking at various forums like the Medicine 2.0 Summit at Stanford in September. And I think there’s an opportunity to consult in areas like how the smartphone could be applied for diabetic care.

Q: No rest for the weary.

A: That wouldn’t be fun.

Forget the blurring of the lines in social media.

The lines completely disappear on Diabetes Mine.

You find the fundamentals of good journalism on Amy’s site.

She’s not afraid to take on big-time pharma with hard-hitting stories (10 Reasons Why The Actos Pre Diabetes Study is Dumb).

But she’s hardly objective, bringing a strong POV as an advocate for diabetics.

And her touch points and knowledge make her a natural to consult in the space.

To try to categorize Amy’s work misses the point.

Given her following, clearly she’s delivering something valued by her readers.

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