2020 Healthcare PR Agencies of the Year, North America | PRovoke
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2020 Healthcare PR Agencies of the Year

The 2020 North America PR Agencies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 150 submissions and 50 face-to-face meetings with the best PR firms across the US and Canada. Analysis of each of the 64 finalists across 13 categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or here.

Winners are unveiled at the North American SABRE Awards ceremony, which will take place on Thursday May 28 as the first virtual awards dinner since the competition launched 20 years ago. You can find the 2020 SABRE Awards North America finalists here.

Winner: ReviveHealth (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


Finalists

Cura Strategies (Independent)

CURA Strategies cofounders Anne Woodbury and Jeff Valliere worked together at FleishmanHillard and its Washington, DC, subsidiary GMMB before going their separate ways — she to Togo Run and the offices of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, he to digital strategy firm Threespot and the Obama campaign. They reunited in January 2016 to launch a new firm that would focus on healthcare public affairs in the healthcare sector, helping to address some of the critical issues facing the healthcare sector in America and providing a voice to advocacy groups and causes with a stake in the big health policy debates.

That objective has been realized, with CURA, now fully owned and run by Woodbury, winning new business from Behavioral Health Group (BHG), BillionToOne, DynamiCare Health, The Kennedy Forum, Mental Health for US, PKD Foundation, Treatment Advocacy Center, Get the Medications Right (GTMRx) Institute and Retrophin. The firm also handles work for Advocates for Opioid Recovery, American College of Cardiology, CareDx, Children’s National Medical Center, ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), LEO Pharma, MDxHealth, Mended Hearts, Pacific Business Group on Health, and Sanford Health. As a result CURA, which was Provoke’s 2018 new agency of the year, has grown over the past few years into a firm of 12 people bringing in $2.2m in revenue — a 73% lift from 2018. All of which is particular impressive given that 2019 was a comeback year for the company after suffering setbacks last year and late 2017.

The year’s highlights include CURA’s work for The Kennedy Forum elevating mental health and addiction issues during the 2020 election season, leading to the launch of launched the Mental Health for US coalition in less than three months. Events in key states and soliciting input from candidates in the Democratic presidential primary. CURA also helped CareDx successfully spur a movement within the kidney and transplant communities with the creation of Honor the Gift (HTG)—a national, patient-centered coalition dedicated to the passage of the Immuno Bill,  bipartisan legislation would guarantee access to post-transplant drugs for kidney transplant patients in the US and yield significant savings for the country. — DM/PH

Evoke Kyne (Huntsworth)

Last May, Huntsworth’s Evoke Group bought health communications specialist Kyne, Provoke’s 2019 EMEA healthcare consultancy of the year, in a $17.4m deal creating a 100-strong global healthcare agency, Evoke Kyne. Headquartered in Dublin with offices in Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles and London, the firm operates on the belief that communication is a powerful health intervention that can save lives. The agency serves public and private sector clients, bringing together stakeholders to address some of the world’s most pressing public health challenges, from increasing flu vaccinations to eradicating Guinea worm disease.

The firm also has senior consultants in Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe, with a partner network that extends its capabilities to Latin America. The team comes from diverse backgrounds, from many different countries and speaking multiple languages, and have deep experience working within the markets it serves, ensuring its work is targeted, locally-sensitive, relevant and effective.

The Kyne/Evoke merger reaped $25.1m in fee income for the firm in 2019, more than twice the high of $10.3 Kyne in as a free-standing shop the year before. In 2019, the firm scaled and diversified its roster of clients, including nearly 25% growth (of both Kyne and Evoke PR & Influence from the previous year) driven by strong legacy clients of at least five years, ts organic growth (51% of total growth) and more than 15 new clients across sectors and geographies. Notable efforts include its work with Goodbye Malaria to further sustained malaria prevention in Mozambique; Healthy US Collaborative on national holistic health and well-being campaigns; and Insmed, which included building corporate reputation and addressing unmet needs in the rare disease community.

The year’s hallmark work also include Evoke Kyne’s work with in the US with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to raise awareness of the threat of influenza. The firm developed and executed a comprehensive communications and media strategy in support of its 2019 Annual Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference in Washington. The conference, held in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brought together representatives from the media, government, non-profit, and private sectors to kick-off the flu season and drive critical public health messages, resulting in more than 500 media placements garnering more than 1 billion impressions, broadly disseminating critical public health information. — DM/MPS

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. Lund has also built a formidable team that includes North America president Kristin Cahill, managing director Sherry Goldberg, digital innovation and social media lead David Chadwick, and EVP of global media Becky Lauer, with additions in 2019 including Kirsten Whipple, who joined from FleishmanHillard to lead nutrition and wellness work.

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.—PH

Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock (Independent)

Founded in Nashville in 2006, Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock (JPCH) has grown to become one of the country’s top healthcare firms, with an additional hub in Chicago helping it deliver a sophisticated range of services that favour strategic positioning, issues/crisis navigation and change management. Led by president/CEO David Jarrard, COO Kevin Phillips, chief innovation officer Molly Cate and chief development officer Anne Hancock Toomey — the firm grew by 10% in 2019 to $12.5m, thanks to a singular ability to provide strategic communications to America’s healthcare providers as they face high-stakes moments.

None, of course, are likely to be as high-stakes as those faced amid this year’s coronavirus pandemic. But JPCH will have been better prepared than most, given its efforts to address the widespread distrust of healthcare providers, by helping them embrace transparency and put patients first. Specifically, JPCH has capitalised on its ability to navigate complex communications challenges around mergers and acquisitions, crisis management, issue navigation, strategic positioning and change management. JPCH’s own focus on predictive trends has helped it anticipate many of these issues, resulting in thought leadership and strategy efforts that result in a clear point of view and actionable recommendations to clients. 

While JPCH’s client list remains confidential, they include a range of healthcare providers from across the nation. The firm also hired Reed Smith last year to oversee digital strategy, and also stepped up investment in executive leadership and patient experience initiatives. Last year also marked the launch of JPCH’s Art of Change digital thought leadership platform, and the second edition of its book on healthcare mergers, acquisitions and partnerships. — AS