Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
News and insights from the global PR industry


Healthcare public relations and public affairs specialist Washington, D.C., New York

Holmes Report


In the healthcare arena perhaps more than anywhere else, the traditional dividing lines between marketing, corporate communications and public affairs are blurring. Marketing decisions have regulatory and public policy implications, and corporate programs need to take into account both the sales environment and the attitudes of patient groups and activists. With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., Spectrum is better placed to help client companies deal with this complex, multi-stakeholder world than most of its independent peers. Agency founder and CEO John Seng has the experience to handle a wide range of issues—he’s a veteran of Hill & Knowlton, Interscience, and Shandwick—and has surrounded himself with a team of seasoned counselors with deep expertise in various segments of the healthcare market.
Spectrum differentiates itself on the basis of sturdy relationships with healthcare opinion leaders, including producers and reports in the trade and consumer media, activist groups, and others. Its product public relations capabilities include medical research support, alliance building, online outreach, public education and public affairs, and the firm also counsels clients on corporate and institutional image. And in 2009, the firm rebranded—dropping Science Communications from its name—and also reorganized around five health and science categories n which it has breadth and depth of experience: chronic disease, food and nutrition, innovation and technology, infectious disease and women’s health.
The firm also opened a New York office and invested in an expansion of its expertise in health policy, digital media, consumer marketing and primary research capabilities. The New York office is led by senior vice presidents Liza Morris, a 12-year veteran of the firm, and Cherry Dumaual, a consumer public relations specialist formerly with Marina Maher Communications. In D.C., the firm launched an official partnership with Simon & Company, a boutique firm specializing in health policy and health financing.
Those moves contributed to an 8 percent increase in fee income in 2009, with clients such as Procter & Gamble and Covidien increasing their expenditure with the firm, and ongoing work for the Ambulatory Surgery Center Advocacy Committee and the Society for Women’s Health Research. New business included a trio of biopharmaceutical firms (Roche Diagnostics, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Zeltia Group), a major cancer research hospital (The James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University), a healthcare immunization and wellness provider organization (Maxim Health Systems), an advocacy and patient education organization (Fibroid Relief), a rehabilitation technology company (AlterG), and a national personal health coaching company (Onlife Health).
Among the more interesting assignments of the past 12 months, Spectrum is working with biotech companu Alnylam, which is developing a new class of medicines based on a breakthrough discovery in biology known as RNA interference, or RNAi. Spectrum’s mission is to raise awareness of the company and its technology, and the clinical research behind pipeline products through a communications strategy focused on traditional and digital media outreach initiatives, and the firm has secured interviews for the company’s CEO with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, Nature, Bloomberg, and Reuters. Spectrum is also working with AlterG, a San Francisco-based company that invented and markets the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill for rehabilitation and athletic training and supporting The Center for a Livable Future, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as it aims to inform key stakeholders about the connections between diet, food production, human health and the environment in order to influence public policy toward more sustainable systems.
In 2001, Spectrum helped to establish GlobalHealthPR, a consortium of health-focused, independent public relations agencies in Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, and the U.K. Spectrum has coordinated with many of these agencies on client campaigns, the latest of which involved public relations support for European medical meetings for a drug manufactured by one of Spectrum’s clients, Zeltia, a biotech company headquartered in Spain.
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