2020 Global Healthcare PR Agencies of the Year | PRovoke Media

2020 Global Healthcare Agencies of the Year

The 2020 Global PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 500 submissions and (virtual) meetings with the best PR firms across North AmericaEMEAAsia-Pacific and LatAm.

Analysis of all of the Winners and Finalists across specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners were announced at the 2020 Global SABRE Awards, which took place virtually at the 2020 PRovokeGlobal Summit on 21 October. 

Winner: GCI Health (WPP)

GCI Health launched in 2010, when longtime MSL healthcare PR exec Wendy Lund was brought in to develop a specialist healthcare public relations business for WPP. With a team of 30, the firm made a strong start, and in the decade since then has increased its revenue by 500% and its headcount to more than 300 people globally, spread across 16 offices, now including a fast-growing European operation (with a strong presence in the UK and Germany) and a fledgling Asian footprint with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The firm has built a roster of exceptional healthcare brands, spanning the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical technology sectors, as well as a host of nonprofits and—in recent years—large global health organizations. Notable clients include Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Sanofi and more, with new business in 2019 from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for its Vision 2020 campaign; GSK, supporting the company’s respiratory franchise; and Jazz Pharmaceuticals, managing corporate and brand communications in the US and globally.

GCI Health has also been on the forefront of progressive thought leadership in the healthcare sector, with its emphasis on a patient-centric approach to healthcare marketing—putting patients at the center of its campaigns—evolving in 2019 to encompass people-centricity, which encourages staff and clients to consider their target audience as whole human beings, defined by more than just their medical conditions. The “Inspired by People” tagline is reflected in work like its “Touch of Sugar” Type-2 diabetes campaign featuring actress Viola Davis; the “Survivorship Today” celebration of cancer survivors on behalf of BMS; and the promotion of an off-Broadway show that helped GSK tell the stories of African-American men with HIV.

GCI Health opened its first international office in London in 2013, and has rapidly established itself as one of the leading healthcare specialists in the UK. The rapid growth accelerated in 2019, with organic growth of 33%--meaning that the firm has more than quadrupled in size over the past five years. In EMEA as a whole, however, the growth was an even more impressive 83%, thanks to the acquisition of Hering Schuppener Healthcare, a specialized unit of the leading German corporate and financial communications specialist.

In Asia, GCI Health launched in Singapore at the start of 2019 as a new hub office of WPP’s only global specialist health PR agency, and has already grown from one to 16 employees, adding a Hong Kong office and exceeding its 2019 revenue target by a staggering 228%. The firm is expected to double in size again this year, under the leadership of MD Rikki Jones, a career health specialist who has now been GCI Health’s founding leader in two regions, having also set up the London office five years ago. Jones is supported by Singapore MD Dan Blomfield and Hong Kong MD Yvonne Yeung, part of a plan to assemble a deep regional leadership team that can address the relative paucity of healthcare specialists in Asia-Pacific. —PH/MPS/AS


(UK/Envision Pharma Group)

Healthcare communications specialist 90Ten celebrated its coming of age in 2019 with a fifth consecutive year of more than 25% growth, to fee income of more than £8m. The team of 72 at the London agency includes specialists in public relations, medical education and advocacy, alongside neuroscientists, psychologists and ex-ad agency brand planners, a futurist who specialises in disruptive technologies and an advisory board that ensures the agency is on top of the latest in behavioural science.

A significant proportion of 90Ten’s work is for the regional or global HQs for pharma companies based in Europe, including Switzerland, France and the UK: overall, the healthcare communications specialist works for more than half of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical firms. It has particular strengths in purpose-driven communications, influencer marketing and patient advocacy, as well as behavioural science, where it strengthened its offer with a change management communications programme, a new tool to identify the right social influencers to help change health beliefs and behaviours, and a cognitive bias framework to identify subconscious behaviours that are holding back change.

As is the case for all healthcare agencies, finding and retaining talent is a huge challenge; 90Ten tackled this with a number of new initiatives in 2019, including mental health and wellbring programmes and a new approach to flexible working. Thought leadership over the year included the ‘Cannes or Canned?’ report to boost the creative output of the pharma comms sector, which is now being used industry-wide to foster bigger, bolder healthcare campaigns. The agency was such an attractive proposition that it was bought by global medical communications and technology company Envision Pharma Group in April this year. The 90Ten brand remains intact, however, as does the existing management team, including co-founders Paul Tanner, the agency’s chairman, and CEO Carole North, as well as MDs Peter Impey and Alison Doughty. — MPS

Finn Partners (Independent)

The 35% growth Finn enjoyed last year—half of it organic and half of it from acquisitions—took the firm to $120 million globally, with 800 employees now, and $100 million in North America. That’s the culmination of eight years of impressive growth since the firm spun off from sister agency Ruder Finn in 2011 with $24 million in fees and 150 people.

Acquisitions last year included two in North America—healthcare PR and IR boutique Lazar Partners and Boston-based digital and creative shop Small Army—adding to the deep pool of entrepreneurs who have found a home at Finn over the past few years. The organic growth, meanwhile, was fueled by new business successes from health-related clients Alkermes, National Rural Accountable Care Consortium, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center; consumer-facing brands like Frederick Wildman and 2K Games, and the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Founder and CEO Peter Finn is fond of pointing out that it is his agency’s culture—with a focus on “best place to work” status and “heart and conscience”—that has been central to its success in the acquisitions arena. It has also helped the firm attract some top talent, with sustainability lead Jane Madden and financial services head Ryan Barr joining late in 2018, and Porter Novelli veteran Kyle Farnham joining in 2019 to lead global consumer, while Amy Coles was named head of HR and talent.

Under the leadership of Gil Bashe, Kristie Kuhl, Fern Lazar, Michael Heinley, Goel Jasper, Chantal Bowman-Boyles, Tom Jones, Nicole Cottrill, the FINN health practice has rightfully earned many of firm’s recent accolades—Finn was our Healthcare Agency of the Year in 2018—and now accounts for about a third of revenues, with 120 people, more than 100 clients, and a distinctive position at the center of the complicated health ecosystem, where its understanding of the economics that drive the sector have been critical. But the consumer practice has also been performing strongly, with a team of 75 helping 2K Games promote its partnership with Make a Wish, Jack Daniels promote its Operation Ride Home initiative, and Bosch launch an integrated campaign for its cooking products. The real story, though, is the ability of all practices—especially health, consumer, and tech—to work together in collaboration and deliver seamless solutions without the obstacles associated with multiple P&Ls.—PH

ReviveHealth (US/Interpublic Group)

It is now a little more than four years since Interpublic’s Weber Shandwick acquired ReviveHealth, a specialist in health systems, services, and technology that had launched in 2009 and grown into a firm with close to $10 million in revenues and a reputation as one of the industry’s best workplaces. It’s a deal that appears to have worked out well for both parties: Weber Shandwick picked up a capability that complemented its own strength in pharma with deep expertise in a fast-growing segment, while Revive continued to grow—up by better than 30% in 2018 and by another 27% in 2019, ending the year with fee income of more than $22 million.

Under the continued leadership of Brandon Edwards, the firm has grown in other ways too. It opened a Boston office in 2018, giving it a presence in one of the country’s largest medical technology markets, and has built out its digital and social media capabilities impressively (the content and social team doubled in size last year), formalized its analytics practice in 2018, and now handles integrated assignments—including paid media—for many clients. The firm’s leadership team has expanded too with the appointment of Joanne Thornton as president and Shannon Hooper as chief growth officer, and the addition last year of chief people officer, Christian Barnett as lead for strategy, and Lindsey Thompson as EVP for integrated communications.

There was a healthy new business pipeline too, with the likes of Cincinnati Children's, UC Davis Health, Salinas Valley Memorial Health System, North Carolina Healthcare Association, Omnicell, Onduo, and Community Health Innovations joining a roster that includes major players in the healthcare ecosystem including VCU Health, The Christ Hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Tenet Healthcare, Trinity Health, Teladoc, and Geisinger. Among the highlights: Penn State Health engaged Revive to reposition its brand and develop a fully-integrated creative campaign to increase awareness, while Teladoc Health retained the firm to update its image after a series of acquisitions and technology investments, and the North Carolina Healthcare Association tapped Revive to prevent changes to the State Health Plan that would have fundamentally altered the way healthcare is delivered and consumed.—PH