2024 Healthcare Consultancies of the Year | PRovoke Media

2024 Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2024 EMEA PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the UK, Europe the Middle East and Africa. Analysis of each of the Winners and finalists across 20 geographic and specialist categories can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below. Winners are unveiled at the 2024 EMEA SABRE Awards, which take place in London on 17 April. Tickets and tables are available here.

You can find the 2024 SABRE Awards EMEA finalists here.

Finalists

Aurora Healthcare Communications (UK/Spectrum Science)

aoy-backstory-iconBackstory

Aurora Healthcare Communications is a UK-based healthcare communications and marketing agency founded in 2005 by Neil Crump and CEO Claire Eldridge, that was acquired by US player Spectrum Science in 2022. As well as corporate communications and public relations, the firm’s work across the health communications landscape spans strategic consultancy, creative and branding, medical communications, patient engagement and social impact, and it remains committed to improving lives by accelerating patient access to medical innovation. A new positioning in 2023 aims to encapsulate what makes Aurora different. Where Ability Meets Agility summarises the firm’s client promise: access to leadership and transformative thinking, a responsive, partnership approach and flawless execution.

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The firm’s main operations are in London, and Aurora also serves as the European hub for the Global Health Marketing and Communications network.

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Aurora’s fee income grew 11.4% to £4.6m in 2023, with headcount also slightly up to 37. The firm’s client portfolio includes Bristol Myers Squibb, Movember, Rhythm, and Chiesi, while new business in 2023 featured such names as AstraZeneca, Compass, Otsuka, and Daichi Sankyo, expanding its reach in areas like respiratory, immunology, vaccines, sustainability, and regional communications. The firm’s diversification into specific areas such as biotech, medical communications and social impact services was integral to key business wins in 2023, as well as providing opportunities for organic growth with existing clients. 

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Despite the departure of agency founder Neil Crump in 2023, the agency's restructured leadership remains strong with key directors Dr. Chris Hall, Sebastian Stokes and Claire Murray, supplemented by new hires Stephen O’Farrell and Suzie Marton. The firm aims to prioritize and empowers its employees reflected in strong staff survey results in terms of culture, belonging, learning & development, and work/life flexibility. 

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

Aurora’s Re_frame the Future thought leadership video platform was launched in 2022 to explore the biggest challenges, trends and directions of travel in healthcare. This continued in 2023 with a focus on patient activation, complemented by commentary on wide-ranging health and communications topics such as improving diversity in clinical trials, the role of communications in speaking up for health inequalities, and reaching ‘hard to reach’ patients and communities. Campaign highlights included work for Rhythm, a company that offers treatment for rare genetic causes of obesity, and collaboration with Takeda to drive dengue awareness and prevention. Aurora also worked with Daiichi Sankyo Europe to increase follower growth and engagement on social media.

Arun Sudhaman


GCI Health (WPP)

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Having cemented its position as a market leader among healthcare specialists in the US, WPP’s flagship healthcare communications agency 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. In 2019, it expanded its footprint by absorbing German agency Hering Schuppener Healthcare, a unit of the leading German corporate and financial communications specialist. In 2021, it furthered its European presence opening an office in Brussels. The firm has specialist practices focused on communications, public affairs, global health, digital and scientific communications.

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From its headquarters in London, GCI Health’s EMEA operations have expanded, adding offices in Hamburg and Düsseldorf through the Hering Schuppener acquisition, and has also added an office in Brussels to handle EU public affairs needs. Two new business wins in 2024 took the firm into the Middle East and expanded the regional footprint. The firm ended the year with over 100 people across the region.

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GCI Health has been one of the fastest growing public relations firms in Europe over the past decade, with double digit growth over seven consecutive years. That growth slowed slightly in 2023, as client budgets tightened, but the firm still managed to grow by double digits over the past two years. The client roster across the region represents some of the biggest players in the pharmaceutical industry, including half of the top 20 global pharma companies and two of the top three: AbbVie and Pfizer. Organic growth represented two thirds of overall growth in 2023 and the firm retained 100% of its existing clients.

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Kath Harrison, president of EMEA, is responsible for overseeing the region’s expansion, leading business development and providing senior counsel to clients, supported by Kim Walker, managing director of operations in the UK; Hannah Morris, managing director, client service, UK; Horst Müther, founder and CEO, Germany; and  Jock McEwan, head of digital. New hires last year included Cathy Chow, regional head of medical communications and strategy, and Dorothea Dalig as director, Brussels. GCI’s philosophy of being “Inspired by People” starts at home, which includes initiatives around employee wellbeing and mental health, as well as a commitment to building a wider talent base to enhance representation, unconscious bias training for all employees, and improved education about minority populations. The firm’s “global mobility” commitment allows transfers to other GCI offices around the world, and a levelled-up learning program ensures strong training.

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

GCI Health offers a data-driven approach focused on unlocking behavior change, underpinned by its philosophy of being “Inspired by People,” which means putting people—and patients in particular, but also caregivers and health professionals and journalists—at the center of everything it does. The firm’s commitment to health equity is apparent in some of its thought leadership activity in 2023, such as working with RLM at a forum at COP28 to support ending preventable diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, and a roundtable in Brussels with industry, NGOs and HCP ;eaders to discuss reducing health inequities. The firm also launched a new clinical trial recruitment service, which will address the need for greater diversity in clinical trials.

Paul Holmes

Virgo Health (UK/Golin) 

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Virgo celebrated its 20th birthday last year, having grown from a UK medical communications specialist to one of the leading healthcare agencies in the UK, employing more than 90 healthcare specialists and working as part of Golin and the IPG network on UK, European and global business. Virgo works across the healthcare spectrum, with pharmaceutical, diagnostic and consumer health companies, industry bodies, public and private health providers as well as patient organisations. Its work in the highly-regulated sector is always research- and data-driven, but Virgo’s strength is focusing on the human factor to help people make better decisions around healthcare, whether clinicians considering the best treatment, patients understanding their disease better or empowering consumers to self-treat. Last year, it strengthened its corporate communications and global media relations practice, changed its approach to medical education and medical affairs, and launched an integrated consumer health offer with sister agency Golin, Credible Creative, which blends scientific rigour with creativity.

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Virgo has owned offices in London and New York and works with the Golin and IPG network across the rest of the US, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

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Under the leadership of MD Sarah Gordon, Virgo Health has delivered year-on-year strong double digit growth for the past five years and in 2023 had its most impressive bottom line to date. Over the past two years, Virgo Health has grown fee income by more than 40% on margins of 25%. The agency won over $3.5m of new business last year, with a win rate of 71%. It retained all its top clients and organic growth accounted for more than $1.5m of income. Virgo works for the likes of Specsavers, Nurofen and Reckitt Benckiser, and last year won two seven figure accounts: a global pharma and a leading medical education client in the area of influenza. 

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Virgo is known for its inclusive, friendly ‘Being Human’ culture, but ensuring this stayed as the heart of the business as it grew rapidly was vital. In 2023, it had 77% staff retention – the highest in five years – and surveys showed 93% of the team recommend Virgo as a great place to work and 96% are happy with its hybrid work model. Virgo also introduced salary transparency for candidates and existing team members, with competencies linked to an L&D programme. As a result, 84% believe they have a well-aligned career path at Virgo, with 20% of the team promoted in 2023 and 89% intending to remain at the agency for the foreseeable future. Virgo invested in a future-fit new office and refreshed its focus on culture and belonging, engaging the team to co-create a ‘Smart Hybrid’ culture and making the office the heart of its community with regular team socials and all-agency learning days. With DEI director Nina Bhagwat, Virgo set out to improve inclusion and belonging, investing in inclusive line management and inclusive leadership with DEI specialist The Unmistakables and launching employee relationship groups for minorities. Educational events increased team confidence in discussing everything from disability at work to trans perspectives on pronouns. More than 20% of the team identifies as being part of the global majority.

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

One of the standout campaigns of the year by Virgo Health and Golin was ‘Misheard Lyrics’ for Specsavers, shortlisted for a SABRE Award. To raise awareness of early signs of hearing loss and encourage people to get tested, the team forged a partnership between Specsavers and pop legend Rick Astley. They created a mass hearing test as part of a witty, earned-first integrated campaign that destigmatised the issue, leading to a 66% increase in hearing test bookings during the campaign. The team also worked with a major global pharma on a media training programme for 180 leaders around the world, as it launched a game-changing new drug. Other stand-out work included the ‘See my Pain’ campaign for Nurofen, highlighting the Gender Pain Gap Index report, which shows women’s pain is not taken as seriously as men’s, unveiling a free tool to help women get support, diagnosis and treatment, leveraging influencers and mounting an immersive exhibition attended by politicians, charities and journalists; the campaign drove the highest level of positive sentiment for Nurofen to date. 

Maja Pawinska Sims

The Weber Shandwick Collective (Interpublic Group)

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Weber Shandwick has been a force across EMEA since its formation 23 years ago, but over the past two years its healthcare practice has emerged as a jewel in its regional crown, and one of the most impressive and innovative parts of the business. Last year the practice – led by EMEA healthcare president Rachael Pay – continued its reinvigorated era of integration and collaboration among The Weber Shandwick Collective (TWSC) agencies and across the region, with particularly strong work between the teams in London, Geneva, Brussels and Berlin. The agency also formalised its new EMEA consumer health and wellness practice led by Anna Gallais, rapidly expanded its international health hub in Berlin and its corporate health offer in Germany, expanded its pool of health strategists under Kristen Dimmock, and continued its new focus on health equity. But perhaps the most significant development was the launch of a new women’s health proposition in EMEA last spring, which was later rolled out in Asia-Pacific: TWSC: Women’s Health covers policy and advocacy, health communications, corporate communications, employee engagement, digital innovation and design, fuelled by culture and data intelligence while working with external advisors from business, government, academia and society.

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Weber Shandwick has teams of healthcare communications professionals across the EMEA region, including in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, and the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT).

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Revenue from The Weber Shandwick Collective’s top 20 healthcare clients across EMEA was up by double digits last year – far stronger than 2022 – with particularly strong performance from Novartis and British Myers Squibb. The team of around 300 people across the region picked up new briefs from Pfizer and the WHO Foundation, which joined existing clients including Sanofi in the agency’s EMEA healthcare portfolio, which includes pharma and life sciences companies, public health agencies, scientific and academic institutions and NGOs.

aoy-people-iconPeople & Culture

Significant new healthcare hires in 2023 included Tess Evans as health creative director, after a career in healthcare copywriting and creative at agencies including VCCP, Havas, Ogilvy and FCB; Matt Hare-Scott, who formerly worked with healthcare clients at FleishmanHillard and Hanover, as corporate health director, and former VCCP and McCann scientific director Sara Candeias Jenkins as EVP of scientific strategy. Overall, after refreshing its approach to talent and its employee value proposition across EMEA in 2022, TWSC continued its focus on DE&I, with a new talent attraction model, hybrid working, inclusive policies, a new listening strategy, with an inclusion board in the UK and the introduction of the Culture Amp employee experience app, the Access All Areas mobility programme, the EMEA ‘Sideboard’, which allows younger employees from across the region to bring the issues of the day to the main board, a region-wide celebration of Inclusion Week, and mental health programme Open Minds, alongside a partnership with mental health resource This Can Happen. The IPG Belong survey showed that 82% of the team feel respected, 81% feel they can be themselves at work, and 75% feel cared about. 

aoy-leadership-iconThought Leadership & Work

Weber Shandwick’s healthcare work across the region was again outstanding, with SABRE shortlistings for several campaigns for Sanofi, as well as work for Abbott. For the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, the integrated Hayat Organ Donation Campaign helped increase donor sign-ups by 612% (YOY), which translated to many life-saving organs transplanted. TWSC: Women’s Health launched with its first insights product, The Women’s Health Indicator, developed by data analysts and behaviour experts to identify specific gaps in women’s healthcare by analysing and assessing data points measured across society, media, and policy. The digital team at Flipside, which has its own health division, also saw growth in pharma, wellness and life sciences work, from digital transformation to behaviour change, as well as the creation of new digital products to help with diagnosis, managing treatments and increasing patient understanding of their condition. 

Maja Pawinska Sims