EMEA Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year 2017 | Holmes Report

2017 EMEA Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year

Our 2017 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Winners were unveiled at the EMEA SABRE Awards in London on 23 May. Analysis of all Finalists across 21 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here. 

Winner: Hanover (UK/Independent)

At first glance, one of Europe's best public affairs firms might seem like an odd choice for the healthcare list. But much of Hanover's stellar growth in recent years has been powered by a healthcare policy practice that blends policy, advocacy and government affairs to impressive effect under MD Andrew Harrison, who has been with the firm since 2002. And the healthcare unit grew by an impressive 43% last year, moving increasingly beyond policy and public affairs into communications work, with new business from Mundipharma and Boehringer Ingelheim joining existing clients such as Lilly and Shire.

Indeed Hanover's approach to healthcare is consistently grown-up, illustrated by its ability to secure a major healthcare technology assessment reform assignment ahead of McKinsey and Deloitte. The launch of a market access practice involved work for Lilly's Alzheimer's drug, and reflected an ability to navigate an increasingly complex European healthcare landscape. And much of Hanover's healthcare work is led by Brussels office, as demonstrated a big-budget campaign to persuade EU and national policymakers of the possibility to eliminate Hepatitis C in Europe, leading to the European Commission’s decision to invest €1m in a new project to improve early diagnosis rates of viral hepatitis. — AS


Ketchum (Omnicom Group)

Now accounting for around 20% of Ketchum's regional revenue in EMEA, the practice grew substantially in 2016 thanks to a renewed focus on wellness, in acknowledgement of declining pharma budgets. The firm made the smart decision to merge its healthcare practice with its Inspired Science medical education practice, helping clients develop a more 360-degree approach to their communications challenges. That is reflected in the diversity of services Ketchum provides to its healthcare clients, including corporate reputation (BMS and Janssen); pharma (Takeda, Pfizer and Sanofi Pasteur); change management (Astellas); advocacy (Eular and World Economic Forum); health and wellness (Centrum, Danone and Clorox); medical education (Bayer and Otsuka); and health tech and devices (Toshiba, Philips, Stryker).

There was also significant digital growth in the healthcare arena too, training Pfizer on social media and developing the excellent Miles for Haemophilia and F2 Freestylers campaigns. — AS

Kyne (Ireland/Independent)

Kyne has created a mighty workforce of professionals whose backgrounds include non-profit organizations, top communications firms, foundations and biopharmaceutical companies. The firm’s 26-person team has propelled Kyne to nearly $6m in fee income — 28% growth from the previous year.

The Dublin-based firm has additional offices in New York and Los Angeles along with consultants based around the world (including UK, Brussels, Uganda, Mali and Chad) enabling a deep understanding of local dynamics, insights, needs and regulations. The consultancy also taps into a creative, collaborative and integrated approach that uses communication as a powerful health intervention across four key areas: disease state and market development initiatives; reputation and responsibility programming; advocacy relations; and behavior change communications.

Key clients include Boehringer Ingelheim; Bioverativ; CDC Foundation; GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance; Johns Hopkins University; National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID); The Rockefeller Foundation (new); Seqirus; the Carter Center; AstraZeneca (new) and the Touch Foundation (new).

To keep the quality of work consistent across geographies, Kyne hosts an immersive two-day meeting with an agenda structured around outputs from its yearly employee satisfaction survey. Notable work includes partnering with Africa United to develop an internationally broadcasted video called “I’m No Hero” with the simple message of trusting healthcare workers, along with campaign radio spots and a series of billboards, posters, SMS images, soccer cards and notebooks that were disseminated across the region.

Founder David Kyne remains at the helm as CEO with a leadership bench that includes Maureen Byrne, EVP, General Manager, NY; Wendy Woods-Williams, EVP and GM of LA; and Lisa Mehigan, director and head of Dublin Office. — AaS 

Pegasus (UK/Ashfield Healthcare Group)

After 20 years as an independent agency, 2016 was pivotal for Pegasus with its sale to Ashfield Healthcare Communications and with a new managing director taking over. Even amid the significant change, fee income is up 9% to nearly £10m with 108 employees, mostly in the UK.

Key clients include Bayer, Biogen, GSK, Holland & Barrett, Novo Nordisk,Thornton & Ross — plus new wins AstaReal, Beauty Kitchen, Grafton International, Leo Pharma, Mars Petcare, Nature’s Dream, Spectrum Brands and Vitabiotics. In 2016, Pegasus also added planners, videographers, digital analysts, developers, community managers and behaviour change creatives, as well as individuals from non-agency life such as veterinarians, nutritionists and journalists to its mix to broadens it scope and depth.

Notable work include that for client Biogen. Knowing one in five multiple sclerosis patients hadn’t seen a specialist in the last year, the team created ‘1MSg’ (one message) to inspire so-called ‘lost patients’ to reconnect with these services. The message was simple: “Take control, know your choices” - positive, easily-grasped and placed the onus on patients to act by driving them to a microsite. The integrated channel strategy targeted mass media, online, social, HCPs, surgeries and community centres. As a result, 69% of visitors said they would seek advice from specialist services.

This year, Pegasus invested in a formal online engagement tool called ‘HIVE’ to strengthen its staff insights and introduce a way of providing feedback. HIVE sends bi-weekly microsurveys to all staff providing real-time data and acting as a barometer for the overall engagement of its people on a range of workplace matters. It also acts as an electronic suggestion box, with a direct mail function that enables staff to reach out, anonymously, with any issues that might be troubling them. Since its introduction, the firm has made many improvements, including hiring more people in finance, evolving its appraisal process, reviewing flexible working, and streamlining expenses.

Founder and chairman Lisa Bradley left the firm in April, leaving the reins to MD Simon Hackett, creative director Stuart Hehir and directors Jo Spadaccino and Helen Yeardsley. — AaS 

Virgo Health (IPG/Golin)

Now in its 13th year, and fourth since it was acquired by Interpublic Group agency Golin, Virgo Health has successfully managed the transition to new ownership and management with aplomb, retaining its spot as one of Europe's top healthcare agencies. The firm grew around 4% to $11m in 2016, despite a challenging marketplace that involved fewer blockbuster drugs and a reduction in big-budget retainers. Organic growth of 26% pointed to Virgo's continued ability to diversify its services for such clients as Novartis, Roche and Abbvie, supplemented by new business from Ipsen and Santen.

That has involved considerable investment in digital and content, with Virgo's in-house Pharmacy creative hub particularly busy, bolstered by the appointment of Paul Andrews as head of design and Nicole Burns as senior social strategist. A new innovation hub called Egg includes two proprietary white-label products, one focused on collaboration, workspace & ideation technology, and the other a platform for clinical trial efficiencies, reflecting Virgo's continued ability to change with the times. And Sue Neilsen arrived as head of communications to help refocus Virgo's corporate unit.

All of that helped drive some impressive campaign work, including a major employee engagement effort for Roche; getting men aged 60+ to talk to their GP about atrial fibrillation for Bayer; and getting RB onto the Lions Health 2016 agenda via and innovation challenge to solve the devastating effects of air pollution in India. In line with its 'Being Human' positioning, furthemore, Virgo's workplace culture remains a notch above most of its rivals. —  AS