Eckerd hires Gallagher to push focus on pharmacy

CLEARWATER, FL: Eckerd, a major drug-store chain owned by J.C. Penney, has hired a VP of public relations.

CLEARWATER, FL: Eckerd, a major drug-store chain owned by J.C. Penney, has hired a VP of public relations.

Joan Gallagher joined Eckerd from Zurich Scudder Investments, where she was an SVP and director of communications, Americas region, and director of global PR. She is currently examining how Eckerd works with PR agencies and its overall messaging, and she plans to expand her two-person staff.

"We're looking at ways we can improve our public posture. We are an untold story," she said of Eckerd. "I'm putting a real strategy together about how we can best posture ourselves in this crowded environment."

The drug-store business is crowded, with national chains offering a variety of goods. Eckerd wants to set itself apart from competitors by emphasizing its drug-store roots. "Eckerd defines itself as a pharmacy first," Gallagher said. "My goal is to help consumers, people, the media, everybody understand the role of the pharmacist."

Gallagher is reviewing how Eckerd had worked with various PR agencies in the past. The company has no AOR, but changes are planned for the internal staff. "I definitely have plans to increase the staff. It will be bolstered," she said.

Gallagher's position had been empty for "quite a while" before her hiring, she said. "The management team had been changing, and I think they had been looking for what they needed" in the job, she added.

Gallagher will report to CEO Wayne Harris.

Prior to her time at Zurich Scudder, Gallagher was with Gillette, where she had been manager, director, and finally VP of corporate PR and corporate public affairs.

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