The latest PR news from PRovoke Media, previously known as the Holmes Report.
Opinion and commentary from PRovoke Media, previously known as the Holmes Report.
Catch the latest PR news & updates with PRovoke Media's PR Podcasts. Lifting the lid on key industry stories & trends, join our listeners of PR podcasts today.
Latest video interviews and campaigns from PRovoke Media, previously known as the Holmes Report.
Long-form journalism that analyzes the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the business and practice of PR.
Industry-leading analysis of the PR stories that matter.
Explore PR profiles and interviews with leaders from the marketing and PR worlds.
Keeping up with the latest thinking on PR industry expansion.
Coverage and analysis of BCW's merger with Hill & Knowlton to create Burson.
All of PRovoke Media's coverage and events from the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Coverage of the Cannes Lions from PRovoke Media in association with ICCO.
PR Crisis & Business Crisis review. PRovoke Media's annual analysis of the top reputation crises to rock the corporate sector. Read on here.
PRovoke Media's coverage of the Covid-19 crisis, focusing on corporate communication, public affairs & PR industry fallout.
PRovoke Media's PR Trends round up. PRovoke Media's annual forecast of PR trends and news that will impact the PR world in the year ahead...
Diversity & inclusion trends, views and analysis from Provoke Media.
Creative work, trends and views from the global public relations industry.
Dedicated to exploring the new frontiers of PR as it dives deeper into social media, content and analytics.
Our coverage of key technology PR trends and challenges from around the world of digital communications.
From brand marketing to conscious consumerism, coverage of key marketing and PR trends worldwide.
PRovoke Media's coverage, analysis and news around the rapidly-shifting area of employee engagement and internal communications.
Sports PR news, diversity & inclusion trends, views and analysis from PRovoke Media. Subscribe today for the very latest in the world of sports communications.
PRovoke Media's definitive global benchmark of global PR agency size and growth.
Enter PRovoke Media's 2024 Global 250 Agency Ranking and/or our Agencies of the Year competitions now.
PRovoke Media's annual selections for PR Agencies of the Year, across all of the world's major markets.
The 100 most influential CCOs & CMOs of leading brands around the world.
PRovoke Media profiles marcomms innovators from across North America, EMEA and Asia-Pac.
The most creatively awarded PR campaigns and agencies in the world.
In-depth annual research into the PR industry's efforts to raise creative standards.
APACD/Ruder Finn annual study of Asia-Pacific in-house communications professionals.
The world's biggest PR awards programme, dedicated to benchmarking the best PR work from across the globe.
The biggest PR conference of the year, a high-level forum designed to address the critical issues that matter most.
A global network of conferences that explore the innovation and disruption that is redefining public relations.
Unrivalled insight into the world's best PR agencies, across specialist and geographic categories.
Our Roundtables bring together in-house comms leaders with PR firms to examine the future of communications.
PRovoke Media elevates the PR industry at Cannes, in conjunction with ICCO.
PRovoke Media's coverage & events from the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The PR industry’s most comprehensive listing of firms from every region and specialty
Find the latest global PR and communications jobs from PRovoke Media. From internships to account executives or directors. See all our PR jobs here.
Content from PRovoke Media's premium partners.
PRovoke Media's editorial series published in collaboration with partners.
Founded a little more than two decades ago as WeissCom, a biotech-focused healthcare specialist, the firm was renamed W2OGroup in 2010, by which time it had established itself as an integrated healthcare communications group with multiple acquisitions spanning advertising, digital, data and analytics and more. Early in 2021, there was another evolution, to Real Chemistry, focusing on “the real chemistry between people and the brands born to change their lives.” Not surprisingly, the growth story (see below) has been the dominant narrative around Real Chemistry—which won Large Agency of the Year two years ago—with the firm’s proliferation of non-traditional services also serving to set it apart from the competition. But Real Chemistry continues to be, at its core, a healthcare PR firm—the largest in the world.
US offices include: San Francisco (HQ); Atlanta; Austin; Baltimore; Beverly Hills, CA; Boston; Chicago; Florham Park, NJ; Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis, MN; Montclair, NJ; New Hope, PA; New York, NY (3 locations); Pasadena, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Wilmington, NC. Additional offices in the UK and EMEA.
The fact that Real Chemistry has built itself into one of the world’s 10 largest public relations firms in just a little over two decades is unprecedented. While acquisitions made a significant contribution to that growth (including Swoop and IPM.ai, sister companies that use technology to identify, target and engage patient groups in 2021), organic growth was better than 30% last year as the firm reached $475 million globally and $439 million in North America. While it already works for the vast majority of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, there were new assignments from existing clients like Genentech, Amgen (new corporate affairs work) and Astellas, as well as a host of new names for the client list: Care, Ocugen, Vertex, Adagio, Dexcom, Immunovant, and Day One Biopharmaceuticals.
The biggest news on the people front was the elevation of founder Jim Weiss to the chairman role and the appointment of management consulting veteran Shankar Narayanan as CEO—a clear signal about the future of the firm. Other significant additions included Brian Gibbons as chief people officer and Mary Stutts, who most recently led corporate relations at Sumitovant Biopharma, as global chief inclusion and health equity officer. The firm’s expanded DE&I focus included increasing the number of BRGs to eight, and providing a 14-month paid fellowship for diverse graduates. The ROOTED engagement model puts anti-racism and health equity thinking at the center of the firm’s processes. Reinforcing the firm’s entrepreneurial culture has also been a priority, the launch of an internal “Shark Tank” competition, inviting employees at all levels to bring forward their own growth ideas.
It’s not every public relations agency that has won a Health Lion (through its ad agency unit 21 Grams) and been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, but those two honors demonstrate how different Real Chemistry is from its peer set. Its ability to blend creativity and science (including data science) is the foundation of its thought leadership. And 2021 may go down as the year when all that innovation finally manifested in the quality of the firm’s work: its work with Pfizer to support the biopharma industry’s pledge to #StandWithScience over Covid vaccines; partnering with Merck and journalist Katie Couric to develop content exploring the impact of Covid on the cancer community; creating a “Love Letter to Black America from America’s Black Doctors and Nurses” as part of the Black Coalition Against Covid-19; and supporting City of Hope through its acquisition of Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
— Paul Holmes
Agency acquisitions are not always successful, but the 2019 merger of Kyne with Evoke has created one of the healthcare sector’s strongest players, helping it secure Global Healthcare Agency of the Year honours in 2021. The firm combines strong private and public healthcare offerings, often bringing partners together to solve some of the world’s most pressing health challenges, from Covid-19 to flu to cancer. Over the past year, Evoke Kyne has stepped up investments to deepen its offering in such areas as creative, scientific storytelling, a proprietary patient influencer network, and global public health — all adding up to another year of impressive double-digit growth.
In North America, there are physical offices in Philadelphia, New York City and Los Angeles, but Evoke Kyne has also expanded its remote workforce across the globe, including teams in Washington DC and Atlanta.
Evoke Kyne grew by 26% in 2021 to $38.9m, reflecting not only the boom in healthcare communcations, but also the firm’s relatively unique ability to integrate private and public healthcare concerns. Unfortunately, some of its key clients remain confidential, but Evoke Kyne works with several pharmaceutical majors on disease and drug programs, health equity initiatives, advocacy, and ESG thought leadership. For the Pandemic Action Network, meanwhile, Evoke Kyne is working alongside 90+ partners to advocate for policy changes and increased resources in preparation for future pandemics.
Evoke Kyne prides itself on having a team-based culture where people are encouraged to share their ideas and every person is valued. The firm increased investment in a range of areas, including employee training, DEI initiatives, philanthropy, mentorship, networking and wellness, all of which helped underpin a 92% retention rate, with 85% of employees being either ‘satisfied’ or ‘highly satisfied’, and 96% ‘feeling respected’. The firm’s commitment to DEI began in 2018, and now includes its first head of DE&I, helping to support considerable expansion of its priorities and initiatives in the area. This included a new professional development toolkit, hiring policies, training, internship, inclusion programs, and social giving. 25% of new employees in 2021 were from underrepresented groups.
Campaign highlights included a range of pivotal efforts during a transformational era for healthcare communications. The firm partnered with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) to raise awareness of the importance of flu vaccination during the pandemic, focusing in particular on at-risk audiences. For Hopelab, meanwhile, Evoke Kyne supported the client’s transition to a venture philanthropy focused on LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth, including internal comms, thought leadership and external campaigning.
— Arun Sudhaman
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 as a global leader in healthcare PR. GCI Health is focused exclusively on healthcare communications, but that hasn’t prevented the firm from diversifying its operations in recent years, as health PR has taken on new challenges, including more integrated digital and social campaigns, content creation, and more public health, social impact work, and public affairs and corporate reputation assignments.
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. In total, the firm has close to 500 people across 26 offices.
For obvious reasons, the healthcare sector was immune to the downturn that hit many agencies during the first year of the pandemic, so GCI has continued its growth trajectory without a hiccup, following a 28% increase in fees in 2020 with another 24% of growth in 2021—fees are up 135% over the past five years. While healthcare clients seem particularly prone to demand confidentiality, GCI is known to work for the majority of the largest pharma companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK, Lilly, Merck, Abbott and Sanofi, as well as ViiV Healthcare, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Eisai, Walgreens, and Regeneron. New clients last year included Mitsubishi Tanabe, The END Fund, and Sabin Institute, which charged the firm with raising awareness and demand for vaccines in a challenging environment.
GCI Health continues its DE&I journey with a three-pillared approach: ongoing efforts to increase cultural fluency and understanding, identifying inclusive champions, and encouraging diverse perspectives. The team has added diverse talent including biotech and pharma veteran Dawn Christian, a certified IED practitioner; marketing and advocacy expert Tenee Hawkins, and Brianna Jones, who focuses on healthcare disparities. The firm has also been exploring intersectionality through its @theintersection events focusing on Black History Month and AAPI Heritage Month and has launched The Dream In Me, a year long initiative with Inclusion NextWork to mentor future Black leaders. All of this plays into the firm’s employee experience, which promises a culture co-created by employees underscored by its PeoplePACT.
GCI continues to offer an approach to healthcare that is grounded in scientific expertise, supplemented by deep empathy for patients and other stakeholders. And over the past few years it has been building out capabilities that support its core expertise, including a content marketing offer that includes creative, editorial services, and design and video production, all grounded in a burgeoning insights offer, creating campaigns like a recent effort to engage a younger generation of cancer advocates for Sanofi using TikTok. The firm has also strengthened its public health offer, with an emphasis on issues like health inequity and sustainability, leading a policy dialogue for Lilly to put community health work at the center of the healthcare system. For Walgreens, meanwhile, the firm worked with community leaders to persuade 34 million people to get the Covid vaccine.
— Paul Holmes
Baltimore's Imre started life nearly three decades ago and remains guided by its focus on turning consumers into brand believers, And while the firm’s focus spans consumer, corporate and healthcare, it is in the life sciences sector where it has significantly outperformed in recent years, including seven new client wins in 2021 alone. That expansion is supported by Imre’s approach to empathy, which is as inclusive of employee culture as it is of emotional drivers that help differentiate products — leading to a belief that compassion is not just a moral imperative for healthcare work, but a strategic one too.
Aside from the Baltimore HQ, the firm’s 240 employees also work in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, along with more than 30 staffers who ‘work from anywhere’.
Imre grew by a notable 25% in 2021, with fee income rising to $45m from $37m the previous year. And much of that growth was driven by the firm’s life sciences practice, with new business from Akili Interactive Labs, Aveo Pharmaceuticals, Genentech, Gravie, J&J Medical Device Business Services, Viatris, VF Corporation and MyEyeDr. They join an existing healthcare roster that features AstraZeneca, GSK, Pfizer and ViiV Healthcare.
Founder and CEO Dave Imre set the tone for the firm at the outset, establishing empathy and optimism as values that continue to drive the agency’s culture of cohesion and inclusion. A mentor to staff and clients, Imre, along with fellow partners Mark Eber, Crystalyn Stuart and Jeff Smokler, doubled down in 2021 on ensuring team members remained connected. The firm also expanded on its existing DEI efforts, launching a specific business resource group and continuing its support of numerous LGBTQ initiatives.
Imre produces a range of thought leadership efforts that support its twin values of empathy and optimism. Campaign highlights included COPD work for a major pharmaceutical company, and successful outreach for a DTC pharma brand.
— Arun Sudhaman
In the 26 years since launching Spectrum Science, Jonathan Wilson has built an agency hyper focused on health care offering clients services that go beyond traditional PR across channels and specialties. Spectrum continues to diversify its capabilities and expertise across advertising, marketing, medical communications and clinical trial recruitment, with an eye on providing clients the right solution to meet their goals, regardless of discipline.
Spectrum Science has offices in Washington (HQ), New York, Atlanta and Chicago.
2021 saw Spectrum operating at a new high, registering $48.8 million in fee income, a 48% lift year-over-year. Headcount rose from 120 to 200 to service new clients such as Eli Lilly, Hengrui, CSL Behring, Tyra Biosciences and Moderna, which joined a client roster populated by Bayer, Foundation Medicine, Heron Therapeutics and Takeda among others. Much of Spectrum’s new talent comes from nontraditional sources for PR agencies — advertising, med comms, clinical trial recruitment and paid media agencies. The firm’s innovation is focused on leveraging data and technology to create personalized experiences and help clients better connect with patients. Spectrum’s also built out its proprietary data aggregation, insights and measurement tool Galileo6 with new modules to track performance dynamically and facilitate data-driven insights tailored for specific client needs.
The industry’s talent shortage has led to Spectrum ramping up its efforts to create a purposeful, inclusive environment that prioritizes career development without sacrificing well-being. That included an employee education program, which offered 30-plus training sessions over the last year; bringing in experts to help staff with setting boundaries; and mental health services. Spectrum provided recent grads agency experience as fellows. The firm’s DEI plan focused on diversifying the talent pool; creating a more inclusive culture; looking at client work through a DEI lens; and incorporating DEI into marketing and new business. Spectrum’s year-to-year survey show an increased number of team members who identify as “of Color” from 7.5% in 2020 to 17.8% in 2021.
Keenly aware of how the pandemic changed healthcare, Spectrum developed thought leadership to help clients evolve their strategies in response to factors such as heightened awareness of science, data privacy and telemedicine. 2021 client work included the Are You the 33%? campaign from Bayer and the National Kidney Foundation which, engaged Debbie Allen to help raise awareness for increased risk of chronic kidney disease with type 2 diabetes.
— Diana Marszalek
We feel that the views of the reader are as important as the views of the writer. Please contact us at [email protected]Signup For Our Newsletter Media Kits/Editorial Calendar Jobs Postings A-Z News Sitemap
© Holmes Report LLC 2024