Burson hires new creative head for healthcare group

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has created a new role in its healthcare practice, chief creative officer, dedicated entirely to consumer-focused healthcare PR programs. Debra Gaynor, former president of Weber Shandwick?s New York healthcare practice, has been named to the post.

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has created a new role in its healthcare practice, chief creative officer, dedicated entirely to consumer-focused healthcare PR programs. Debra Gaynor, former president of Weber Shandwick?s New York healthcare practice, has been named to the post.

The hire comes as healthcare PR efforts are now more formally focused on consumer audiences because pharmaceutical companies have come to rely on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising as a mainstay of their marketing plans. For example, last fall, Pfizer selected Weber Shandwick?s consumer group to handle PR for Viagra, its blockbuster impotency drug. Burson?s approach is a novel one as Gaynor?s role falls within the agency?s healthcare group. Incorporating consumer strategies into what are traditionally thought of as healthcare accounts is not uncommon at agencies, but they typically draw upon resources from each respective practice as needed. Gaynor said PR pros have been targeting consumers for years, and that the approach is just now becoming prevalent because of pharmaceutical companies? large DTC advertising budgets. ?When you have a big ad spend, you want to make sure it?s backed up by education directed at consumers,? she said. Gaynor added, ?Consumers have a lot more to say about healthcare choices? today.

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