"I have a lot of optimism for what 2024 will bring us," Weber Shandwick North America health lead Jamie Dowd tells Doug Simon. "At Weber Shandwick Health we've had a significant year of growth for a variety of reasons across all of our major areas of business—product communications, corporate communications, public health and corporate health. And we really see the momentum continuing."
And that growth is the effect of much more than just clients changing agencies. "We've seen more new opportunities, frankly, than clients looking to change from other agencies," Dowd says, "which to me just reflects where science and innovation have taken us into new spaces with new medicines that are at the point in their life cycle where clients are looking to retain communications agencies."
One big hurdle is the growing prevalence of misinformation. "It's a huge challenge," she tells Simon, "and I think it's going to get more severe before it gets better." However, Dowd also stresses that "misinformation is not a new thing." What's different is that "certain topics have just been so controversial and the politicization and how we think about those topics has drastically changed."
AI, she says, can magnify the problem. "I think we've all seen the role that algorithms can play in getting content to take on a life of its own. So, we've got to think about and work together across social media companies, government, private organizations, and think about how do we combat this to a place where we can understand and believe and use AI in the way that is really created to be."
The increased focus on women's health also comes up for discussion. "I'm passionate about what can come from the conversation that's now surfaced, because I still think we're in our infancy of exactly what brands and companies are really going to do about it," Dowd says.
She also talks about how the communications industry can support female leaders. "I think we have to continue to provide the focus and flexibility and opportunity to elevate within a company for women to truly grow to where we want them to be. We've seen a growing number of women enter the workforce, but for them to stay there is going to require companies to really pay attention and frankly, customize what the work-life balance needs to be."
But she mentions the value of having a support system outside the workplace as well. "I think there's a lot of organizations that have been created to really help. To have a community outside of your company really brings a new perspective."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]