Others in the top five were Ruder Finn at $30,401,000; APCO Worldwide at $22,741,000, and Cooney/Waters Group at $20,433,000.
PR firm CEOs and heads of the healthcare practices, asked to describe how they are practicing PR and communications, responded with detailed descriptions of their activities.
Revealed is a world of dizzying complexity as PR firms and their clients grapple with issues surrounding pharmaceuticals, patient care, health technology, legislation and regulation at federal, state and local levels, medical devices, health insurance, general and healthcare press, and the academic and scientific communities.
Leading gainers among the top 25 firms in the healthcare category included MWW Group, up 323% to $2,500,000; Jones Public Affairs, up 149% to $4,272,403; Rasky Baerlein up 64.4% to $3,058,884; Coyne PR, +26.6% to $3,375,000; Dodge Communications +25.3% to $3,602,980; Revive PR +22.7% to $4,600,000; Hager Sharp +22.1% to $4,796,177; Crosby Marketing +20.9% to $4,440,982, and Makovsky & Co. +13.6% to $5,000,000.
Nine of the firms in the top 25 healthcare ranking only handle healthcare—Cooney/Waters, GYMR, Spectrum, Revive PR, Jones PA, Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, MCS, Dodge Communications and LaVoie Group.
Cooney/Waters grew 45% to $20.4M and fifth place in the ranking from No. 13 partly by adding The Corkery Group, which had $6.3M in fees in the first nine months of 2011.
WCG’s revenues are 92% in healthcare. Other specialties handled are technology, food/beverages and entertainment/cultural.
“In this complex, interconnected world, Edelman has the global perspective, resources and people to help our clients thrive in the business of health. Our 500+ health specialists and colleagues stay at the forefront of medical, scientific, business, policy, and societal issues such as disease prevention and management, the health technology revolution, wellness, control of infectious disease pandemics, biomedical science, and access to healthcare.
“We work for the world’s leading organizations and brands across all health industry verticals and sectors including private, government, NGO and academia, as well as companies in other industries, and we help them use fully integrated multi-channel communication solutions to meet their stakeholders’ expectations.
“Edelman’s Health Practice offering includes specialties in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health technology, life sciences and biotech, hospitals and providers, consumer health (Wellness360), corporate and institutional affairs, science communications, data visualization, crisis and issues management, public health and social marketing, health alliances, professional relations and education, health policy and public affairs including market access, health media, digital health, clinical development, as well as BioScience Communications, our full-service medical relations, education and publishing company, and DJE Science, a specialty unit partnering with science-intensive businesses and organizations.”
CEO Jim Weiss says the firm provides healthcare clients with a comprehensive range of integrated services including analytics and measurement; strategy and planning, product launch support; investor and financial media relations; corporate identity and positioning; internal and change communications; medical and science writing; patient advocacy and medical society relations; thought leader and influencer development; media and presentation training; digital and interactive strategy and design; tradition and social media strategy and engagement; disease awareness education programs; consumer and professional advertising; creative services and sales and marketing collateral; medical education and communications; market access, policy and public affairs support; regulatory and clinical data communications, and clinical trial recruitment.
“We believe social media and analytics are essential components in healthcare communications,” said Cohen. “We believe our dedicated and experienced professionals have taken a leading role in driving education and behavior change at the government, policy, association, hospital and industry level.”
Key healthcare executives are Cohen; Jen Gottlieb, head of Twist Marketing and formerly practice leader in New York; Diane Weiser, practice leader, San Francisco; Laura Fusco, practice leader, content and engagement, W2O Group, and Leslie Wheeler, practice leader, New York.
Ruder Finn Health & Wellness, $30,401,000
“Health & Wellness is a key area of leadership for our firm, a leading independent with more than 65 years of experience,” said Goldstein.
More than 400 professionals are employed by RF at offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, London, Paris, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Guangzhou, New Delhi and Mumbai.
Practice areas include brand positioning, life cycle management, new drug launches, corporate reputation, viral marketing, social networking, media strategy and relations, internal communications, managed markets, hospital marketing, social work, government relations, public policy, and patient advocacy.
“Our philosophy is rooted in hands-on senior management on all accounts teams with relevant specialists engage from all levels across our global network,” said Goldstein.
Besides launching, promoting and branding “first-in-class” drugs and lifesaving treatments, the RF specializes in addressing lifestyle issues and regularly works with associations and clients on partnerships to establish innovative platforms and break new ground in communicating branded and non-branded information. “Our media approach and strategies consistently produce front page, high-visibility coverage, and journalist rely on us for accurate and transparent news and information,” said Goldstein. The firm has extensive experience executing communications programs surrounding drug pricing and reimbursement including issues particular to emerging markets.
The Washington, D.C., office creates and implements public education and PA programs that influence public opinion, build support for regulatory and legislative actions, and manage issues. A range of strategies and activities is used including engaging policy makers and advocacy groups, creating coalitions, mounting state and national media relations programs and targeting attention-getting advertising in order to achieve client policy and business objectives.
RF specializes in identifying and mobilizing third-party groups that “have the clout and expertise to elevate an issue or to put a complicated problem into perspective for policy makers, the media and the general public,” said Goldstein.
Clients included Bristol-Myers Squibb; AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, Abbott Laboratories, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories, Roche, Astellas, UCB, Boehringer Ingelheim, American Urological Assn. Foundation, National Assn. of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, European League Against Rheumatism and Aetna.
APCO Worldwide, $22,741,000
“Significant” new client projects were added around the world, new senior talent was hired, and important new services were developed.
Launched was the “Health Advisory Board,” a specialty group of the firm’s International Advisory Council to provide clients with enhanced expert counsel and executive-level knowledge of the changing healthcare marketing place.
The Health Advisory Board includes former chief medical officers, public health leaders, heads of communications of large pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and former health policy officials.
Members include Sir Liam Donaldson, former chief medical office for England and chief medical advisor to the U.K. government; Daniel Glickman, former U.S. secretary of agriculture; Leslie Norwalk, former acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Kavita Patel, former health policy advisor to the Obama Administration; Kenneth Thorpe, former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services, and Richard wade, former senior executive, American Hospital Assn.
Launched by APCO were a “prevention and wellness” offer that helps clients to define and align wellness efforts with their overall business strategies, and a program focused on market access that gives companies a research-driven approach to anticipate and address multiple audiences’ expectations and needs.
Senior hires taking leading roles in these offerings include Melissa Musiker, former director at the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. and a Registered Dietician, and Steve Bates, former senior directror of external affairs and market access at Genzyme and former special advisor to U.K. Secretary of State for Health John Reid.
Other hires include Stig Albinus, former chairman of Burson-Marsteller’s healthcare practices in Europe and the U.S. and former head of public affairs, Danish Medical Assn., and Colin Mackay, former communications and partnerships director, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Assns.
APCO undertook a major reputation-management study for the pharmaceutical sector using the firm’s proprietary “Return on Reputation” research model. Based on quantitative research from more than 3,000 respondents including healthcare providers, policy-makers and healthcare opinion leaders, the model measures the effect of overall reputation on specific business outcomes including consumer behavior, prescribing behavior, community activism, the policy environment, the crises environment, and financial value.
The results of the study, released in January 2012, indicate that the reputation of pharmaceutical companies has a measurable and direct impact on improving the business environment including increasing sales and market capitalization, says Schooling,
Cooney/Waters Group, $20,433,000
“Their great strength in analysis and health policy, coupled with our product marketing expertise has benefited both operations and is a powerful offering for clients in the US and Europe,” he said.
The firm launched Cultur Health, an Hispanic healthcare communications service aimed at the more than 50.5 million Hispanics living in the U.S. It leverages cultural insights and healthcare communications expertise to help drive important healthcare messages to Latinos. For clients such as sanofi-pasteur and UCB, Inc. Cooney/Waters has developed multiple award-winning national, regional and grassroots programs to reach Hispanics who are at greater risk for many treatable diseases, said Bird.
Asked how important social media is in medical PR, he noted that the FDA recently issued long-awaited direction on how pharmaceutical companies can properly use SM.
Said Bird: "Our core business is reaching and engaging relevant audiences where they seek health information. U.S. patients turn to the internet as their primary source of health information. Social media tools and other emerging technologies have made it easier for both patients and health care professionals to quickly seek information about medical conditions and treatment. As digital content providers, Virtual Connections is our audience-centric approach to understanding and driving conversations and engaging publics across traditional and online channels. We focus in two areas 1) Connect: encourage dialog and information sharing and 2) Content Creation: maximize resources in targeted, strategic ways and extend reach and frequency of a call to action.”
The firm includes three divisions: Cooney/Waters a mid-sized firm that provides the full range of public relations and public affairs services to healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotechnology enterprises; Alembic Health Communications which specializes in communications programs in the area of health advocacy; The Corkery Group a full-service public relations firm internationally recognized for its expertise in issue-oriented and product communications for some of the world's leading health organizations.
GYMR Public Relations, $5,696,294
They have turned to GYMR because of its background in policy, advocacy, journalism and social media, they said, adding: “Our strength is in crafting messages about complex science or public policies as well as in planning and executing strategic communications.”
Among events coordinated last year was the “Care About Your Care” gathering of nearly two dozen organizations.
Convened by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with the organizations, it was a national effort to raise Americans’ awareness of how to identify and get better health care and involved a 17-city, multimedia launch.
GYMR planned and led the initiative from start to finish with Dr. Oz as national spokesman.
The firm is making increased use of social media in supporting client programs.
It developed an integrated social media strategy for the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. A coordinated Twitter strategy currently helps position the organization as a leader of national conversations about prevention, control and treatment of infectious diseases.
Tactics involving LinkedIn provide a platform to foster member relations and connect SHEA with other professionals interested in sharing the latest science and best practices for care.
Here’s his answer: “For Spectrum, the answer is a genuine interest in the scientific process and how it can improve lives. Our clients are passionate about their work in health, public health and life sciences. We share that passion because we know that their advances make a tremendous impact. We relish the fact that we are able to develop and tell these stories of progress, hope and innovation every day.
“Speaking of stories, we think those that are most compelling are usually the ones where science wins the day. Based on our experience, we know that science builds brands, establishes leadership, inoculates against potential issues, and transcends borders. Most importantly, for our clients, it is often the driver to meet business objectives.
“With a team composed of individuals adept at interpreting complex discoveries, products and missions, we are well suited to relay health and life sciences messages in ways that more effectively resonate. As veterans and specialists in science, health and communications, we quickly connect with our clients’ teams, skip the learning curve, and ask the right questions from the outset. We believe this gives us a real competitive edge.
“Spectrum has the added benefit –a benefit we pass along to our clients – of being independent. Because we don’t struggle with layers of administrative teams that you might find at giant, mixed-interest agencies, we believe we can more quickly respond to our clients’ needs and build lasting relationships.
“The bottom line is that Spectrum is passionate about helping health and life science organizations achieve their goals. By “following our bliss,” we’ve been very successful over the past 15 years. And, by the look of things, that’s not likely to change any time soon.
Makovsky + Co., $5,000,000
During the past two years, Makovsky Health has added clients from among the biopharma industry’s top 10 companies and innovative leaders in the field of rare and specialty illnesses including endocrinology, oncology, neurology and women’s health. Bashe said longstanding and new clients have found the Makovsky service teams comprising staff with backgrounds in advocacy, marketing, public-policy, reimbursement, social media, and state-government offer a best practice approach to strong outcomes – anticipating rapid changes in health communications.
The firm has tapped into top health PR industry talent to drive client retention and growth – Kristie Kuhl, JD, SVP, deputy director, is recognized globally for regulatory expertise in small patient populations, Tom Jones, GVP, consumer health marketing and Lee Davies, GVP, advocacy and media relations. Jones and Lee are both pharma industry veterans from Novartis and Schering-Plough and ensure the voice of the client continues to be well represented within the practice.
Hager Sharp, $4,796,177
“Our health campaigns cover a wide range of issues and focus on behavior change through strategic social marketing and informed program implementation. We created Best Bones Forever!, an award-winning, catchy campaign for the HHS Office on Women's Health that helps girls boost physical activity and calcium and vitamin D consumption to help them build strong bones. We transformed diabetes from a little known, silent killer to a Time magazine cover story with our creation and positioning of NIH and CDC's joint National Diabetes Education Program, which we built from the ground up.
“For the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals the most current data about 10 key indicators of child health and well-being in the U.S., Hager Sharp generates extensive media coverage. In 2011 alone, we reached 1.3 billion people-including policymakers and child advocates, in addition to media. The strategic action plan we designed for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board furthers their mission-enabling the most effective support of pharmacists to advance patient safety.
“Our team consists of health experts and PR pros, whose services include: strategic planning and research, media relations, social marketing, partnership development, multicultural outreach, digital and social media, integrated communications campaigns, event public relations, and materials development
Revive Public Relations, $4,600,000
Brandon Edwards, president, asked why his firm only handles healthcare, said specialized practices are common in professional services firms and specializing in healthcare is particularly important in the PR arena.
He notes it is “highly regulated, fragmented, and disintermediated, with more complex business relationships and regulations than any other industry. Only the financial services industry comes close.
“There is a big divide between PR firms that focus on life sciences - pharma and biotech - and those that focus on other health care sectors like health systems, physicians, payors, and medical devices. Traditionally, pharma and biotech have been the big budgets, and firms could leverage their creative departments to grow budgets by handling advertising, digital communications, direct marketing, and PR.
"Of course, these budgets have compressed in recent years as the pharmaceutical industry has consolidated, and struggled with the drug pipeline and competition from generics. PR for life sciences companies has always required a highly leveraged model - big teams, dominated by junior level staff, little ongoing senior level counsel and strategy work. Oddly enough, for all the attention paid to it, pharma/biotech only represents 14-15% of the total health care spend.
“Our ‘sweet spot’ is 60-70% of the healthcare dollar, and it requires deep industry expertise and focus to be successful. The reason Revive has jumped ahead is that we focus in health services and health technology more broadly than some other firms.
Firms that focus on healthcare are thriving for two reasons, he says. They work in a growing industry with extensive PR needs, and they spend the time necessary to develop industry knowledge and expertise. Other firms that try to enter healthcare through the B2C arena just can't compete with that.
"Revive has grown because we offer insights, strong industry knowledge and expertise, and business
knowledge that goes well beyond PR," he said.
Crosby Marketing Communications, $4,440,982
They described this as “actions that positively impact people’s lives and make a difference for individuals, families, communities and society.”
The firm’s healthcare practice works with hospitals and health systems, health plans, physician groups, technology and service providers, seniors’ housing companies, advocacy groups and government agencies. Services include marketing research and planning, brand development, integrated communications programs, media relations, community outreach, special events, online/search marketing, social media and public service advertising campaigns.
Said Crosby and Aube: “Our work spans the full continuum of healthcare from public education and multicultural outreach programs designed to motivate healthy behavior change, to communications support for chronic care management initiatives, physician outreach, and membership enrollment programs.
“More of our work includes developing and promoting digital tools and platforms to engage target audiences in relevant, exciting ways such as an opt-in mobile wellness program that gives subscribers daily goals and health tips; mobile applications that let consumers check emergency room waiting times at their local hospital; and apps that help teens experience the negative effects of smoking. We help clients deploy a variety of social media strategies including brand and campaign Facebook pages and Twitter events that connect consumers with healthcare professionals and clinicians in real-time.”
Current clients include Kaiser Permanente, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Ameritox, Social Security Administration, St. Joseph Medical Center (a member of Catholic Health Initiatives), Brightview Senior Living and the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry.
Jones Public Affairs, $4,272,403
“One should never underestimate the role patients groups play in cultivating change. Our clients appreciate our unparalleled understanding of advocacy relations and our ability to create meaningful partnerships. Our core advocacy services include: organizational mapping, cultivating relationships and facilitating roundtables.
“Social media is more important than ever in health communications. To help our clients better understand the digital space, we've created tools to identify online influencers and analyze how messages move across different audiences. This helps us to move faster and smarter, resulting in more targeted placements.”
Ken Deutsch is senior VP based in Cambridge, Mass., for the firm.
Jarrard Phillps Cate & Hancock, $3,828,297
David Jarrard, principal and one of the founders of JPC&H, said the healthcare focus of the firm is driving growth.
“It’s all we do,” he said, “and our dedicated focus is very attractive to industry leaders during a time when the entire $2.7 trillion healthcare sector is undergoing massive change.”
“Our niche in the industry is facilitating change in the ‘provider’ sector—the hospitals, clinics and others who directly serve patients. We find again and again that these leadership teams want experts instead of generalists when they need help through a high stakes transition, such as the acquisition, sale or closure of a hospital, for example.
“Change is happening so fast in every market that there is little time to waste. Like other industries facing a high-energy moment, the leaders want a team with zero learning curve, who know the language, the issues, and pressure points. That’s our bread and butter.”
He sees a bright future for the firm as “evolution in the hospital industry accelerates. The implementation of national healthcare reform, market consolidations, payer pressures and a still-weak economy are feeding the speed of change.”
MCS Healthcare Public Relations, $3,771,495
“The advantage in dealing with an agency that focuses exclusively in healthcare accrues over time. In 27 years we have gained experience in almost every part of a very diverse field. That knowledge, whether is it based on meeting the needs of the media, physicians or patients, provides clients with an expertise that is not only broad but deep.
“Our strength is the team we have assembled. They are either eager to learn when they enter this field or they are experienced professionals who are committed to being a leaders in the field. Average tenure is eight years. We have served some clients more than 18 years, underscoring our ability to consistently provide creativity, service and results.
“The MCS team is a smart and creative group of talented professionals who bring experience that is possible only through a true focus on healthcare. We extend ourselves every day as advocates for our clients and reach their audiences with messages that have the ability to change the practice of medicine.”
Dodge Communications, $3,602,980
“One is the rapid emergence of cloud-based computing solutions. Enterprise systems are being updated to meet market demand for contemporary, less expensive and more powerful systems. Companies that develop these solutions need to completely overhaul their messaging and strategic PR campaigns are an effective vehicle for quickly getting the word out. Innovators are playing a big role as well, trying to gain a foothold in the emerging market and establish a solid thought leadership position.
“Another is the HITECH Act. New changes continue to emerge, giving healthcare companies an opportunity to further position themselves as experts by demonstrating that they're keeping pace with all the new certification requirements imposed by the federal government.
“A third factor is that healthcare costs continue to rise dramatically. Technology and service solutions have proven to positively impact the quality of patient care while reducing the cost of delivering care. This means healthcare organizations are looking for proven and creative solutions, and are scouring all available sources for reliable information. Additional speaking and media relations opportunities as well as the need for comprehensive social media programs are the benefit for PR professionals.”
Coyne Public Relations, $3,375,000
Said Coyne: “Our award-winning health practice, Coyne Health, represents clients across three key pillars of the health care landscape: health and wellness; medical and science; and advocacy and cause. With our unique strategic planning model, ActivationHealth, we go beyond awareness and focus on activating brand stakeholders to drive outcomes.
“The team is built on ‘creative chemistry,’ a combination of expertise and insights across the health spectrum including: fitness and lifestyle management; emerging medical science and technologies; payors and providers; issues and advocacy; research; and medical academia. Digital and social media integration is core to our work, ensuring that we provide surround-sound communications that reach and activate stakeholders on multiple levels. We understand the intricacies of the health sector in an increasingly digital world, and guide our clients accordingly.”
The firm’s Health’s senior leadership team speaks regularly on emerging trends at industry-leading events and serves on advisory boards of leading trade organizations.
Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, $3,085,884
Melissa Monahan, senior VP and head of the healthcare practice group at RBSC, said the firm currently handles prominent local and national healthcare clients including hospital systems, specialty care institutions, insurers and nonprofit organizations.
Media and government relations support are provided on an ongoing basis. The firm worked on implementation of the healthcare reform legislated in Massachusetts in 2006. It also works with executives to develop and execute communications strategies that supports an organizations overall business goals.
Capabilities cover all aspects of campaign management, from coordination of internal and external communications activities to outreach to key influencers and advocates including state and federal elected officials, industry leadership, the media, patients and consumers. Digital and social media programs are created to meet specific needs.
Included are campaigns to avert and manage crisis situations such as staff impropriety, medical malfeasance, and the preparation of infectious disease containment plans at hospitals as well as digital grassroots campaigns to raise awareness of industry issues, engage and activate key audiences, and help shape healthcare policy.
LaVoie Group, $2,385,063
“We provide clients with strategic communications services that span corporate communications, public and investor relations and branding.”
LaVoie feels that social media will continue to evolve in the healthcare sector but that it lags other industries due to regulatory and compliance issues. However, the firm recognizes the importance of digital and social media strategies as part of the overall marketing mix and will train staff in social media and regulatory compliance from both a branded and unbranded perspective.
“We want to lead the industry in understanding the most effective use of these evolving tools,” says LaVoie.
“Our sweet spot is helping our clients with their brand planning, positioning and messaging across key stakeholders and then developing strategic communications programs to support it.”
Corporate and product work includes clients Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Novadaq Technologies, Radius Health, Olympus Biotech and other leading healthcare brands.
Finn Partners, $2,205,000
Finn Partners works with state and local agencies, hospitals and other health-related organizations on numerous issues.
“We have led significant capital campaigns—creating key messages for potential donors, fashioning them into targeted video and printed materials, and building the most effective media strategies for their distribution,” said Finn.
“We educate and empower consumers about crucial health insurance decisions. We ensure that our clients’ messages influence the largest possible audience.”
The firm uses its cross-agency expertise in consumer, corporate social responsibility, technology and digital/social media to drive awareness and bring measurable results and return-on-investment, said Finn.
Recent campaigns have been conducted for major hospitals in California, large insurance companies in the Midwest, Hyundai’s pediatric cancer program—“Hope on Wheels,” and the American Assn. of Orthodontists. Shelly Holmes, senior partner, works on healthcare.
With the healthcare industry changing and Americans seeking healthier lifestyles, CRT/tanaka’s work has evolved, she said. The agency is helping healthcare providers redefine their role in prevention and decode health reform for the average consumer. In addition, as the obesity crisis peaks in the U.S., food and nutrition have become a core focus. By bridging the consumer education gap, the agency has boosted awareness of superfoods, health products and health services.
For instance, CRT/tanaka designed a video health awareness contest for its client Avocados from Mexico, in partnership with East Los Angeles-based White Memorial Medical Center, to help teach children, at-risk of developing diabetes, the benefits of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
The agency also joined forces with the Larry King Cardiac Foundation and Dizzy Feet Foundation on Dance 4 Your Life!, a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of dance as a way to improve heart health and combat obesity.
Working with The American Physical Therapy Association, CRT/tanaka created “Move Forward,” a campaign that uses TweetChats, livestream events, and digital and traditional marketing to educate consumers about the benefits of physical therapy.
Allison & Partners, $2,100,000
“We work directly in the community, running public awareness campaigns designed to let patients know about services and programs that will improve their health. In addition, we’re constantly working with providers – physicians and others – who serve as the gatekeepers, letting patients know about programs in which they should enroll.
“In addition to the community-focused activities, we also provide our clients with strategic counsel to get in front of the audiences who matter most – health plans, other players, government agencies, Members of Congress – and help them execute on those plans. We do this through securing media opportunities, pitching our clients as thought leaders in their industry, identifying social media channels where they can reach influencers, organizing events highlighting their issues, and building coalitions to increase their third-party credibility. Capitol Hill briefings and Capitol Hill fly-ins have been successful venues to get our issues in front of key decision makers.”
Clients range from major trade associations to pharmaceutical companies to telehealth solutions to Fortune 500 companies.