Jacolyn GleasonJacolyn Gleason

The term “healthcare,” as it relates to public relations, has become a vastly open definition, with the recent growth of the wellness industry, specifically with the global wellness market, estimated to reach $4.75 trillion this year.

With this growth, we’re witnessing new brands emerging that formerly didn’t identify with wellness. Likewise, we’re also seeing a shift in brands that solely resonated as B2B brands who are now seeking representation to establish them in the consumer wellness market.

This has also caused a shift in the overall “healthcare” practices at PR firms, becoming broader health and wellness groups to adapt to their new and prospective client needs.

O'Dwyer's Oct. '19 Healthcare & Medical PR PR Magazine
This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Oct. '19 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine.

For example, with the explosion of the cannabis industry stemming from the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis brands began seeking firms to develop strategic campaigns that supported consumer growth, specifically wellness-focused campaigns.

5W Public Relations expanded its wellness practice to support this emerging industry need and saw an unprecedented 42 percent growth year-over-year of its Cannabis and CBD Practice.

Whether it’s physical wellness, mental wellness, parenting safety and wellness and emerging wellness brands among many others, there will always be challenges we face and strategies we develop to overcome them and achieve client goals and objectives.

The cannabis industry for instance, CBD specifically, is unregulated by the FDA which inhibits brands from making claims. This also inhibits public relations firms representing these brands from using this type of language. But how do you support a CBD brand that wants to emerge into the wellness industry without explaining its product benefits?

This is where media and influencers have become a crucial figure in helping to establish unregulated brands like CBD companies or dietary supplement brands. Not only are they educating consumers on CBD and supplements in general, but they’re providing their own perspective and first-person experience with the products; making claims about the products that the brands themselves cannot.

Another industry within the health and wellness category whose strategic media relations campaigns can be challenging to navigate, are mental health and addiction. While it’s necessary to draw consumer attention to health issues and conditions, we must tread a fine line of leveraging these stories and topics without being inappropriate or ignorant to the issue at hand.

To do this, publicists should research and pitch the best possible contacts to help tell the story. We must have a very targeted approach to our media outreach and ensure we’re tapping into editors, writers, producers, etc. and giving them the story very specific to their work and what their readers are looking for.

While this sounds like a simple approach to media relations, the targeted approach has gotten lost over the years and it’s imperative in a category like this.

Parenting safety is a category that seems to be a stretch within the wellness industry, however, these campaigns are focused on educating parents about their children’s wellness and safety. From anti-bullying apps to early-education financial wellness and even car seat safety, most parents don’t realize that safety impacts their children from infancy through their teenage years and beyond.

Education is key with these types of campaigns to ensure parents are aware of how to protect their children and keep them safe in all aspects of life.

At the heart of it all, we’re storytellers and our clients task us with painting them in the best possible light. The growth of the wellness industry is only increasing, so whether we have an easy story to tell or have to connect the dots for media, it’s our job to make sure we overcome any challenges and adjust to the ever-changing industry. This way, we can truly become an extension of our clients’ teams and maximize the impact our strategic campaigns have on their bottom line.


Jacolyn Gleason is Vice President of Wellness at 5W Public Relations.