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Kyne was founded 12 years ago by David Kyne on the belief that communication is a powerful health intervention that can save lives: a clear business and social purpose that put the agency in prime position as coronavirus hit. The agency was snapped up by Huntsworth’s Evoke group of healthcare specialist agencies in 2019 to create Evoke Kyne. The agency brings together biotech and pharmaceutical companies, non-profits, foundations and other stakeholders to address some of the world’s most pressing public health challenges. This year, much of its work has been focused on Covid vaccines and treatments. Much of Kyne’s client list and work is confidential, but it works with many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies on work covering mental health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, cancer, flu and malaria.
Headquartered in Dublin, the global team has bases in Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles and London, with key consultants also based in Canada, France, Portugal and Uganda.
The agency’s strength in public-private sector partnerships, pharma, public health and social impact meant that the pandemic hit Evoke Kyne’s sweet spot. In its first consolidated year bringing together Kyne and Evoke, Evoke Kyne grew by 25% in 2020. The firm now has 139 employees and fee income of just shy of $31 million, making it one of the world’s largest healthcare agencies. As well as more than 15 new client wins, there was organic growth across the board, and increased social media, digital, analytics and creative work.
Two weeks before Covid hit, Evoke Kyne carried out a whole-company on-site in Philadephia to set strategy and bond, and this set it up well to adjust to the pandemic as a combined, but remote, team. The agency put its people first, putting a broad suite of mental health and wellness initiatives in place, ensuring everyone was set up to work well at home, extra support for working parents and reassurance that no-one would lose their jobs. In its employee survey, 98% said they’d got the support they needed. The agency also ramped up its focus on DE&I globally, including a working group, unconscious bias training, appointing a head of DE&I, and the first BAME internship in Europe, for which it had 400 applicants.
Evoke Kyne was one of the founding partners of the Pandemic Action Network in March last year, which now has 65 global partners across public health, technology – including Facebook and Google – pharma and NGOs. The initiative, which brings together policy, advocacy and communications, grew out of Evoke Kyne’s work on Ebola and pandemic preparedness in 2014, and is focused not only on Covid response but also what needs to be put in place to prevent the next pandemic, from developing #WorldMaskWeek – which reached 3.5 billion people in one week – to advocacy on global funding for PPE and more equal distribution of vaccines.
— Maja Pawinska Sims
Crosby is as rooted in the community as it gets, starting with its inception in 1973 when Ralph Crosby bought three small tourist guides and grew a communications agency serving clients in his hometown of Annapolis Maryland. Today, under the watch of Ralph’s son Raymond, Crosby still has all the makings of a neighborhood shop, driven by a mission of serving healthcare and nonprofit clients dedicated to serving families — Kaiser Permanente, Shriners Hospitals for Children and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) among them. Of note, the firm is ranked as a Top 100 firm for federal government communications based on the volume of its GSA contracts, and is one of only a handful of agencies in the country with a dedicated military practice to serve this distinct consumer segment.
Annapolis MD (HQ) and Washington DC.
2020 was the most profitable year in Crosby’s nearly 50-year history, with fee income jumping from $23.3m in 2019 to $29.3m in 2020, representing 22% growth. The Washington Business Journal ranked Crosby the fourth largest PR firm in the greater DC area. With that came a growth in headcount, which rose from 85 at the start of the year to 99 and included the addition of two senior strategists. All of whom supported $3m in new business wins from Cybercrime Support Network, Telehealth.HHS.gov, Refuah Health, and the Santa Clara County California Department of Health. Other key clients include Kaiser Permanente, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Energy Star, Organdonor.gov, Military OneSource, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Social Security Administration, and Wallace Foundation.
Crosby added two new senior executives to its team in 2020, both of whom joined from Edelman. Megan Humphries was hired to oversee the firm’s health and federal government practices. Julia Krahe joined to build out Crosby’s PR, media relations and crisis communications capabilities and serve key clients. The firm tapped its own Lee Gatchel to support growth in designing and developing innovative digital properties and user experiences, as senior VP of experience design.
Crosby supported its employees personally and professionally from its shift to teleworking in late February on, promoting the availability of mental health services, remaining in constant contact through virtual meetings and surveys. The firm also made the transition to working at home easier by investing $325,000 in technology upgrades. Twice during the pandemic Crosby gave all staffers $200 in “Covid cash” for a personal or family splurge. The firm also continued its tradition of community support, giving all 99 employees $200 to donate to their charity of choice on top of donating $300,000 to local food banks and nonprofits. The banner year in business led to record cash bonuses.
Crosby bolstered its D&I efforts, which include tracking progress through an annual affirmative action plan. The firm also now offers employees a six-part D&I training program. Crosby promotes open positions on key websites such as BlackCareers.org, AllHispanicjobs.com, AllLGBT.org, and participates in job fairs and recruits from HBUCs such as Howard and Morgan State universities.
Crosby’s hallmark 2020 work includes PSA campaign to support DAV in raising awareness of the free services it provides to veterans and their families. The print, broadcast, radio, and outdoor PSAs generated 10.4 billion and $107 million in donated media. The year’s other notable efforts included generating robust media coverage of pertinent health issues on behalf of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and driving donations to Shriners Hospitals through online engagement.
— Diana Marszalek
Initially reporting into WPP’s Cohn & Wolfe, GCI Health was able to build a strong identity for itself as the giant holding company’s only healthcare-focused public relations firm, and—now reporting to BCW—has established itself a global leader in healthcare PR. 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. Last year, it expanded its footprint through the acquisition of Hering Schuppener Healthcare, a unit of the leading German corporate and financial communications specialist. The agency opened its doors in Singapore at the start of 2019 and has since grown rapidly across the Asia-Pacific region.
Headquartered in New York, GCI Health has a strong national network (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC) as well as a Toronto office, an established presence in the UK and Germany, and a growing Asia-Pacific operation.
While other industries were struggling with the pandemic, the healthcare sector was enjoying a year in the spotlight, and there was plenty of business: enough to drive GCI to another year of double-digit growth, with fees up by about 28%. Some of that was driven by expanding assignments for long-term clients such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, and Sanofi into the corporate realm, while there was new business from Abbott Diagnostics, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CareCredit, Eisai, offering corporate communications and support for their insomnia franchise, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.
There was a big change in November, when Wendy Lund—who spent more than a decade as CEO—moved in-house to Merck’s women’s health spinoff Organon and North America president Kristin Cahill stepped up to take the global reins. In addition, Sherry Goldberg, Kath Kerry and Rikki Jones were promoted to regional president roles for North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific, respectively. The firm’s commitment to diversity included a “cultural fluency” learning initiative and an emphasis on diverse perspectives in campaign work.
It was interesting to see the blend of Covid-related work (supporting the introduction of Covid-19 tests for Abbott, managing milestone communications during the vaccine approval process, a content-driven campaign for Walgreens around social distancing) and other assignments, such as SABRE-nominated work for Pfizer on arthritis and eczema and Bristol Myers Squibb on cancer. The firm also worked with The Trevor Project on issues related to mental health in the LGBTQ youth community, and public policy issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of older patients for Sanofi.
— Paul Holmes
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