NEW YORK, November 14—Two years ago, senior public relations executives were being lured away from their agency positions to run corporate communications for companies playing a part in the dot-com revolution. Now many of those same executives are returning—older and wiser—to the agency business. The latest to do so is Aaron Kwittken, former general manager of the New York office of GCI Group, who this week joined Middleberg Euro RSCG as managing director.
Kwittken was most recently managing director at VennWorks, a venture capital firm, where he built and led an internal agency, directing global marketing, communications and fundraising for both VennWorks and its portfolio of IT and life sciences partner companies.
In his new role at Middleberg, Kwittken will launch a new life sciences practice area, drawing on his experience in areas such as targeted therapeutics, medical devices, bioinformatics, point-of-care diagnostics, cellular imaging, drug development and issues management. He will also provide the strategic
communications expertise including corporate and marketing communications, crisis management, and financial relations to life sciences clients.
“Most communications professionals do not understand how to effectively work with emerging companies, particularly those in the life sciences,” says agency CEO Don Middleberg. “It requires creativity, aggressiveness and entrepreneurialism, all of which Aaron possesses in healthy doses.”
Kwittken, meanwhile, believes that as much as 80 percent of “real” new business opportunities in the next year could come from the life sciences arena.
“In a down economy, most ‘new’ business opportunities are really just shifts of business from one agency to another,” he says. “But there are new businesses in the life sciences arena that are getting large amounts of funding, that have cash, and that need help with communications. They need to focus on concepts and credibility, which means they need the help of public relations firms.”
He says Middleberg is well-placed to take advantage of the boom in life sciences that was triggered by the mapping of the human genome because like other traditional Middleberg practices—financial services and technology—life sciences demands specialized understanding and the ability to translate technical information into the vernacular for media and consumers. “Don Middleberg has a lot of people who can do that,” says Kwittken.
Clients of the new group include Kwittken’s former employer, VennWorks, as well as Medarex, which is conducting research into monoclonal antibodies; GenMab, a Danish therapeutics company; ChromaVision, which manufactures a device to help identify breast cancer; and Quiedel, a rapid point-of-care diagnostics company.
Prior to joining VennWorks, Kwittken was executive vice president and general manager of the New York office of GCI Group and led the firm’s technology and corporate practices. He was also a senior vice president in Fleishman-Hillard’s information technology practice.