METUCHEN, October 19—In early 2000, healthcare public relations veteran Gil Bashe—formerly of Medicus and Hill & Knowlton—received $60 million in backing from equity leader GTCR Golder Rauner to put together a new healthcare communications network. After 18 months laying the groundwork, Bashe finally returned to the PR business this week with the formation of Health!Quest Public Relations, led by Bashe and fellow H&K alumnus Steven Immergut.
Health!Quest PR will be part of Health!Quest Global Communication Partners, and will provide corporate and marketing communications, crisis management, and financial relations support to pharmaceutical-innovation and medical device and diagnostic clients. In addition, the firm will counsel early stage companies in preparing and communicating their business plans to lending and advocacy organizations.
Bashe, who is CEO of Health!Quest GCP, will serve as chief strategic officer for the PR unit, with Immergut as managing partner and director of client services. Michael Connolly, who previously in his career led the IPO advisory program at KPMG Peat Marwick, will serve as senior counselor for financial relations. The firm will be headquartered in Metuchen, NJ and will have offices in Boston, where it shares space with sister company Lehman Millet.
Says Bashe, “Pharmaceutical companies are developing products that are highly specifically targeted towards patient populations, and for that reason they need communications partners with very specific skills. Tomorrow’s products will be less driven by massive consumer advertising campaigns and more driven by targeted communications. For that reason, clients need senior counseling talent more than they need mass of talent.”
Bashe believes the new healthcare environment is more favorable for specialized firms, particularly those that can combine the senior counseling expertise of the giant agencies with the focus and enthusiasm of smaller shops.
“It’s all about talent focusing on client needs, and Health!Quest PR is able to step to the plate with top-level strategic counsel, creativity and service,” he says. “Steven’s knowledge of brand-building, public health communications and patient advocacy is a vital asset to clients. Mike’s experience in working with equity groups and the public markets provides real-world insight. Together, we will provide clients the expertise necessary to amplify corporate, brand, franchise positioning and reputation.”
Prior to joining Health!Quest PR, Immergut was an executive with CPR Worldwide and Hill & Knowlton. At CPR Worldwide, he led global and domestic accounts for blue-chip clients including Hoffmann-La Roche, Johnson & Johnson and Boehringer Ingelheim. Immergut is also a former U.S. Agency for International Development health communications consultant.
Says Immergut, “I think the healthcare industry is particularly resilient to the economic downturn, so it has not been affected as dramatically as some other sectors. Clients are not cutting their budgets, but they are looking for greater value, and they put a premium of knowledge and experience. They care about the quality of the team on their business, not the size of the team.”