Healthcare PR enjoyed robust growth in 2021 as the 80 firms ranked by O’Dwyer’s posted a 46.6 percent gain in total revenue to $1.3B, counseling clients on how to deal with the global COVID-19 crisis.

Real Chemistry ($475M) Edelman ($208.9M) and Evoke Group ($181M) took the top three slots in the rankings.

Michael Kempner’s MikeWorldWide (+116.3 percent to $7.5M), Tom Ryan’s ICR Inc. (+67.6 to $38.5M) and Scott Signore’s Matter Communications (+51.6 percent to $7.6M) posted the biggest gains of the Top 25 firms.

Healthcare Becomes Edelman's Biggest Practice

Courtney Gray Haupt
Courtney Gray Haupt

Edelman Health in 2021 emerged as the largest practice at the firm for the first time in its 70-year history.

The unit posted a 23.8 percent jump in revenues to $208.9M.

Courtney Gray Haupt, US Health chair, said every region grew due to reprioritizing collaboration and building teams based on need, not geography.

There was a 14 percent jump in new business wins, which includes a 49 percent increase in organic wins compared to 2020.

The robust performance came as Edelman collaborated with clients to build trust across health communities, while combating misinformation about their businesses, products, science and research, according to Gray Haupt.

Edelman Health forged new partnerships to deliver inclusive programming to multicultural communities and helped clients further their ESG policies to support and strengthen human and planetary health.

The healthcare operation also protected and promoted corporate and brand reputations by meeting and exceeding the growing demands of internal and external stakeholders.

Gray Haupt noted progress on Edelman Health’s DEI commitments, including a 27 percent increase in female managers and a 10 percent jump in diverse leadership.

It also solidified and scaled healthcare specialty teams in strategic planning, digital, creative, and data/analytics.

“It isn’t just our approach to the work that has changed, but also how we engage together,” said Gray Haupt. “We have prioritized culture and continued to become more inclusive and specialized, guided more by expertise than geography in how we counsel our clients.”

She said Edelman Health is more united than ever around a shared purpose: to help clients act boldly to earn and keep trust.

APCO Empowers Clients

Evan Kraus
Evan Kraus

APCO Worldwide, which showed a 12.4 percent revenue increase to $36.7M, ”helped clients deal with complex public and policy discussions, empowering them to deliver on their missions to promote health and advance health care equity globally,” said Evan Kraus, president of the Washington-based shop.

APCO’s insight and health teams supported Pfizer’s corporate affairs and global security staff to raise public awareness of the risk of counterfeit medicines.

The firm also helped Pfizer create a global, unified effort to emphasize the company’s year-round dedication to patients, called Patients in Focus.

Kraus said the program included 60 global and local events hosted by 25 countries, with participation by more than 340 patients and advocates, 1.15+ million social media impressions and more than 38,000 participating Pfizer colleagues.

APCO also advised Roche in creating FutureProofing Healthcare, an interactive tool showcasing insights and data on health care systems across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates turned to APCO to help reach its goal of becoming a COVID-19-free nation. APCO—with G42 Healthcare—designed a public health campaign that has made the country the most vaccinated nation in the world today, with more than 90 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the UAE tops Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking, proving its success in containing the pandemic and ensuring the safety of its residents.

On the people front, APCO appointed health and public affairs expert Mathew Shearman to lead APCO’s North America health team.

JPA Health Expands Across Biopharma Sector

Carrie Jones
Carrie Jones

JPA Health, which has offices in Washington, Boston, New York and London, registered a 14 percent boost in revenues to $16.9M.

“Following a year like no other, we further expanded our work across the biopharma industry, winning major new accounts to drive awareness of new approaches to cancer treatment, educate on the need for innovation in the rare disease space, and introduce exciting new treatments to the market,” said Carrie Jones, principal.

JPA Health’s medtech unit bloomed, picking up clients focused on robotic-assisted surgery, artificial intelligence in drug discovery and new technologies for patient engagement.

Jones said the firm dealt with some of society's most pressing issues, which included spotlighting the mental health crisis among healthcare workers and supporting COVID-19 vaccination confidence in medically underserved communities.

“The firm’s life sciences and public health practices incorporated health equity principles from project planning to completion to create inclusive, culturally competent communications campaigns,” said Jones.

Finn Guides Clients Through Fragmented Ecosystem

Gil Bashe
Gil Bashe

Finn Partners pounded out a 28.6 percent rise in 2021 healthcare revenues to the $44.2M mark.

“Enabling clients to navigate the fragmented health ecosystem continues to be a winning recipe for success,” said Gil Bashe, chair of global health & purpose.

The healthcare unit has more than 200 clients throughout the patient advocacy, product marketing, policy communications and payer and provider sectors.

It added new services in clinical trial recruitment, health IT marketing, and digital health and omnichannel communications during the past year.

The Medika Life and Pharmacy Podcast Network acquisitions “have given Finn’s clients an inside track to connect with other health thought leaders and the influential pharmacy community,” said Bashe.

Finn bolstered its healthcare unit with the appointment of Fern Lazar, managing partner, global health practice lead. Bashe said his partnership with Lazar and the rest of the leadership team positions the health unit for robust growth during the current year.

The firm added senior partners Richard Hatzfeld, global public health; Bob Martineau, environment and sustainability; Ritesh Patel, global digital health; and Julian Tyndale-Biscoe and Beth Friedman through the acquisition of InHealth Communications and Agency Ten22,

Bashe called Finn the “the go-to agency in health information—the glue that enables physicians, patients, pharma companies and payers to align around care and product access urgencies.”

He also noted that Finn has strong connections to advocacy and professional groups. Its leaders advise the Galien Foundation, Let’s Win for Pancreatic Cancer, the Marfan Foundation, No More, Hip Hop Public Health, and the International Well Building Institute.

Ruder Finn Focuses on the 'Digital-First Health Consumer'

Christie Anbar
Christie Anbar

Ruder Finn's healthcare revenues grew by 28 percent in 2021, hitting $45.4M and landing the firm at #5 on the O'Dwyer's healthcare list.

The agency's managing director of healthcare, Christie Anbar, says that Ruder Finn's growth spurt was "built on connecting a new digital-first health consumer coming out of the pandemic with a wave of breakthrough science and health technologies coming to market."

Ruder Finn's initiatives in 2021 included building awareness of the power of new mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and launching the first digital at-home COVID-19 test.

Clients contributing to the hike in revenues included Pfizer, Biogen, Sanofi, Kite, Tempus, Idorsia, Merck, Harvard Precision Medicine Accelerator and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

Anbar also says that Ruder Finn focused on advancing "awareness and uptake of multiple breakthrough cancer drugs, including immuno-oncology and CAR T therapies, while working with companies, government and non-profits to increase access to innovative cancer medicines and reduce disparities."

Addressing the "full patient and theraptic journey" was also key to the firm's 2021 success, she adds. That effort extended from "communicating around critical milestones" and "digitally targeted clinical trial recruitment" to "attention-grabbing creative content such as serial podcasts and producing films for major streaming platforms."

Matter Benefits from Demand from Emerging Verticals

Scott Signore
Scott Signore

Matter Communications ranked among the fastest growing healthcare firms in the Top 25 group, driven by "a rapidly expanding client base and demand from emerging industry verticals," according to Scott Signore, principal & CEO.

He said the firm more than doubled client roster and staff numbers over the past calendar year.

"While last year we were laser-focused on helping our clients pivot strategies to fight the pandemic, we’re now guiding them through this intense period of demand and growth happening across the healthcare continuum," he said.

As Matter and its clients emerge from the pandemic and face evolving economic and global events, Signore said: "We’re helping to share the important messages of innovators making real differences in healthcare, ranging from technology to therapeutics, mental health and more."

In supporting new growth verticals, Signore reports "a notable uptick in demand for PR and marketing services from biopharma and life sciences organizations.”

Crosby Handled Ups and Downs of Pandemic.

Ray Crosby
Ray Crosby

Crosby, which chalked up $28.5M in healthcare revenues, “continued to be on the forefront of helping health care organizations navigate and communicate throughout the ups and downs of the pandemic, engaging all stakeholders from providers, payors, policymakers, patients and the public,” according to CEO Raymond Crosby.

In 2021, the firm landed new assignments from Kaiser Permanente, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Refuah Health, and expanded work for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

“Our campaign to drive increased use of the new website exceeded the goal by 273 percent,” said Crosby. “And through our work on behalf of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, we helped launch more than 25 new, evidenced-based clinical preventive guidelines to improve the health of people nationwide.”

On the nonprofit front, Crosby’s PSA campaign for DAV (Disabled American Veterans) generated $98 million in donated broadcast, print and out-of-home media, and strong national news coverage.

Crosby said “it’s an honor to help more of America’s veterans get the health and disability benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

The firm enhanced its digital, UX and analytics capabilities, and invested in people and DEI initiatives to build its team.

“It’s still hard to know what the new normal is, but 2022 is already shaping up to be another strong year of growth and success for Crosby and our health practice,” said Crosby.