NEW YORK—Porter Novelli is acquiring FischerHealth, one of the nation’s leading independent healthcare public relations firms. FischerHealth will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Porter Novelli, one of the world’s largest public relations firms and will operate as FischerHealth, a Porter Novelli Company, retaining its management team.
The acquisition is the first by an Omnicom-owned public relations agency since October of last year, when Porter Novelli acquired Hillburg & Associates, a New York-based crisis and corporate consulting firm. But it is the second PR acquisition by Omnicom in as many months, following the recent acquisition of New York’s Mercury Public Affairs, and may signal an end to the long drought in PR mergers and acquisitions.
Porter Novelli chief executive Helen Ostrowski says the acquisition was driven by a strategic opportunity.
“They are in areas of the healthcare public relations business that have not been a major area of focus for us,” she says. Historically, FischerHealth has been strong in four categories—medical devices and diagnostics, health services, health information technology and health sciences—while Porter Novelli’s healthcare practice is predominantly driven by pharmaceutical and social marketing clients.
FischerHealth also gives PN an expanded presence on the west coast, where it has strong capabilities in consumer, technology, and public affairs, but little healthcare expertise—although Ostrowski says she doesn’t see the new unit as a west coast firm. “It’s a national healthcare firm that happens to be based on the west coast,” she says.
FischerHealth founder and president Roger Fischer says changing client needs drove him to consider giving up his independence.
“About a year and a half ago, we started getting inquiries from companies that were much larger and had much broader needs,” Fischer says. “We serviced them through affiliate relationships, and in some cases they would hire two agencies. We would work with them to drive communications strategy, but they would hire a multinational firm to handle execution on an international basis.”
Last week, for example, medical device company McKesson hired both FischerHealth and Omnicom agency Fleishman-Hillard.
“We wanted to find a partner who could deliver seamless service internationally on a consistent basis,” says Fischer. He says he and his management team met with several potential suitors, but that Porter provided the best cultural fit.
“As we began to get to know these agencies better, it became clear to our senior leaders that Porter Novelli was the right choice for helping us best serve the growing needs of our clients. Their corporate culture, commitment to quality, strategic thinking, creativity, collaboration, expanded services and global reach complemented the areas we’ve identified as most important to our staff and clients,” added Fischer.
As part of Porter Novelli, FischerHealth will now be able to provide new and existing clients with greater resources and expertise in areas such as public affairs and cause marketing, additional product offerings and expanded geographic presence around the globe.