The launch of the Healthcare Communications Association marks a
breakthrough in client-consultant relations. Red Door MD Catherine
Warne, who defected from the PRCA's healthcare group to instigate and
chair the organisation, is to be praised for her attempt to drive best
practice and to boost the attention given to training and
Operating in a regulated space and requiring detailed technical
knowledge, healthcare could be seen to stand apart from other parts of
the PR industry.
Issues such as training and evaluation apply across the board, but the
creation of the HCA is recognition that healthcare poses problems that
require specific solutions.
The major boost for the industry is the presence on the HCA executive of
most of the key players in in-house pharmaceutical PR. This appears to
mean that the association has been set up for the joint benefit of
consultancy and the industry - not to promote growth or market share but
to advance best practice.
The PRCA, whose now defunct healthcare group bears a striking
resemblance to the founding committee of the HCA, is inevitably
generalist. The danger for the association is that other sectors -
financial PR, public affairs, internal communications - may start to
feel strongly enough that the PRCA is too generalist for their
While a proliferation of trade bodies may be seen as a sign of strength
for the industry, it may equally be seen as a sign of weakness from its