Holmes Report 21 Feb 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
The May 2010 acquisition of healthcare public relations specialist Resolute Communications by the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group accomplished two key objectives for the publc relations firm’s founders Paul Blackburn and Anna Korving. First, it provided them with access to a wide range of healthcare communications expertise—advertising, medical education and perhaps most significantly digital and social media. Second, it provided them with access to a global network of 4,000 employees in every major market in EMEA and beyond. The terms of the acquisition meant that Blackburn and Korving will take leadership roles within the agency’s U.K. operations and will have the opportunity to build the group’s public relations offer globally.
In recent years, Resolute had evolved from a London-based healthcare public relations specialist with global aspirations to a genuinely international communications agency, an evolution that involved the launch of Resolute U.S. and a specialist medical education unit. It had also made impressive progress to achieving Blackburn and Korving’s ambition of creating the kind of firm employees had always dreamed of working for; the kind of firm clients would recommend to their friends, but not their competitors; and the kind of firm that experts would recognise as “the most influential agency” in its space.
The duo had learned a lot—about what they wanted to do and what they didn’t want to do—working for some of the top multinational public relations firms in the U.K. market. Blackburn was the founder and managing director of the healthcare practice at Ketchum, which he helped grow into one of the top five in Europe, and then moved on to be managing director of the U.K. operations of Fleishman-Hillard. Korving worked at Grayling and specialist healthcare consultancy TheWorkhouse before joining Ketchum, where she eventually rose to director of the healthcare group.
To achieve that objective, Resolute attracted some impressive talent. In addition to Blackburn and Korving, the leadership team—unchanged following the acquisition— includes Kirsty Mearns, a veteran of Opencity Healthcare Communications, Oxford Clinical Communications and Chameleon; Victoria Wright, former business director at Hayward Medical Communications; and Diane Ross, previously a global programme director at Ethical Strategies and a postdoctoral research scientist with a biotech company, as well Alister Sansum and Tim Mitchell in the medical education practice. The key addition of 2010, strengthening the firm’s already-impressive scientific credentials, was Olga Greco, who joined from Meditech Media to boost the med-ed leadership.
Growth in 2010 came from existing clients, many of whom are now taking advantage of the broader range of services Publicis Life Brand Resolute can offer. The big names include Astellas, DSM, GSK, Forest, Janssen, Novartis, Pfizer, Reckitt Benckiser, Salix, and Shire. Interesting assignments included a Communique award winning campaign, Through the Looking Glass: A Child’s Perspective on ADHD, for Shire, a newcomer to the market. The campaign established the company as a thought leader, addressed issues in treatment and provision, and spoke to multiple stakeholders—enabling them to see the problem of attention-deficit from the perspective of child sufferers.