Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year 2018 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations

2018 Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2018 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 100 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region. Consultancy of the Year winners were announced and honoured at the 2018 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards on 11 September in Singapore. Analysis of all Finalists and Winners can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:

Winner: FleishmanHillard (Omnicom Group)

Healthcare public relations is seen as a recent growth driver among many of the major multinational agencies operating in the region, but there is nothing new about FleishmanHillard’s emphasis on the sector, which has been a key component of its regional business since it expanded into Asia more than 20 years ago. Its capabilities have expanded from pharmaceutical marketing to include market access, regulatory and legislative issues, clinical trial work, and technical medical communications across the full lifecycle of products from drugs to devices.

The firm has strong healthcare teams in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, New Delhi, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and also collaborates with other Omnicom-owned healthcare-focused agencies to deliver an even broader array of services across even more markets. More and more of that work involves engaging directly with consumers, as they look for information themselves rather than blindly following “doctor’s orders,” leading to increased demand for digital and social content.

Fleishman’s healthcare business was once again the star performer among its regional practice groups in 2018, up 24% for a client roster that includes Amgen, Reckitt Benckiser, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer’s oncology portfolio. And that growth was underscored by SABRE-nominated work for J&J, which addressed diversity and inclusion in India. — AS


Finalists

Enzaim Health (Korea/Independent)

The healthcare sector should be fertile territory for public relations firms in the Asia-Pacific region. The issues that help healthcare specialists flourish in other markets—a regulated environment that precludes much advertising, the benefits of an educated and informed patient base, a myriad of issues from safety to pricing—are amplified in Asia by the opportunity presented by an expanding middle class and an ageing population. In Korea, there are more than 6.8 million people over the age of 65, and about half live in poverty. And yet, the market is home to relatively few sophisticated healthcare specialists.

Enzaim Health was founded in 2003 as The Communication Enzaim under the leadership of CEO Dingseok Kim and has expanded to offer expertise in public relations, marketing, public education and publications to a client list that includes both corporate and government clients: MSD Korea, Pfizer Korea, Gilead Korea, Omron Korea, Nestle Korea, Eisai Korea, Astellas Korea, Korea CDC, Korea Medical Association, the Ministry of Health & Welfare. 

The firm is mission-driven, balancing “people, nature and animal” through four core values: health for all, professionalism, creativity, and ownership. That has helped to attract an impressive team, including PR practice leader Song-hee Kim, whose background spans journalism and in-house communications roles. The seven-person PR team has expertise in corporate branding, corporate social responsibility, health education campaigns, and consumer health (food, cosmetics and lifestyle products and services). — PH


SPAG Asia 
(Independent)

In the five years since its launch, SPAG has already established itself as an industry game changer in the Asia-Pacific market as a cross between a public affairs and healthcare shop with three distinct brands: SPAG Asia, D Yellow Elephant and Giga Health (which was acquired in 2016).

Since its 2013 launch, the firm has grown consistently by at least 80% year-over-year while still keeping headcount low with the philosophy that one right individual is worth more than 10 others. SPAG serves an impressive client roster that includes Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Pfizer, Baxter and Boston Scientific among others. The firm has never lost a client.

In 2017, SPAG laid the groundwork for continued success by developing a four-year growth plan that includes the creation of a holding company (Strategic Partners Group) for its brands; rolling out new offerings such as a food & nutrition practice; and taking its business to Europe through partnerships with life science companies targeting the Asia-Pacific region. All of which are in sync with SPAG’s overarching strategy of growing its business through expanding its capabilities rather than its client roster; SPAG has doubled, and even tripled, revenue from existing clients by expanding its breadth of services. The firm is banking on big payoffs, with projections calling for its fee income to rise from its current $4m to $12-15m within four years. — AaS 


Weber Shandwick (Interpublic Group)

Accounting for around nine percent of its regional revenue, Weber Shandwick still believes its healthcare practice is underweight in the region, despite rebounding into 2018 growth following a flat 2017. Key clients include Pfizer, Abbott, Johnson&Johnson, Ocean Spray and Merck, and there was also new business over the past 12 months from Convatec, Gilead, Grail, IFPMA, Novartis, Pierre Fabre and Roche.

In particular, 2017 saw Weber Shandwick expand its healthcare professionals offering via the hire of scientific director Cathy Chow, enabling the firm to offer more specialised educational counsel for brands across the region. And the firm’s public awareness campaign work remains among the best in the region, exemplified by SABRE nominated efforts for MSD India, Lamisil and Gardasil, all campaigns that also integrate a strong digital component.

Indeed, that digital focus is likely to help Weber Shandwick’s healthcare practice shed its underweight status. Already, the firm has won lead agency work for 3 GSK in China, along with assignments for Novartis and Manuka Honey. — AS