Exclusive: Roche Diagnostics hires public sector health comms veteran

Roche Diagnostics has appointed public sector and charity health communications specialist Rachel Clinton as its external comms manager.

Rachel Clinton will lead on reputation management as part of her wide-ranging new comms manager role
Rachel Clinton will lead on reputation management as part of her wide-ranging new comms manager role

Clinton now leads the external comms strategy for Roche Diagnostics UK, the division of the pharma giant that develops products and services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Her role encompasses media relations, web and social-media content, and brand profile for the company.

Clinton will also lead on reputation management work, such as strategic comms and corporate social responsibility, as well as supporting its integrated marketing campaigns.

She is one of a team of three, which includes head of comms Reeta Bhatiani and an internal comms manager, supported by Lexington Communications.

Comms during COVID-19

Clinton said her job had been dominated by the company’s media relations activities for Roche’s contribution to the UK’s response to COVID-19.

But in the coming months the company aims to shift the focus of its external comms from the pandemic to improving public awareness and understanding of the diagnostics industry and the contribution it makes to the early identification and prevention of diseases.

As part of this programme, Clinton will support the development and launch of two campaigns later this year, which will raise awareness of Roche’s role in heart failure and human papillomavirus screening.

Clinton told PRWeek: “I'm really looking forward to working with expert colleagues here at Roche to build on our work to raise awareness of the vital role diagnostics has to play in diverting pressure away from the NHS, helping patients understand and better manage their own health, and the future of healthcare.”

She added: “Hopefully, my understanding of how those pressures play out in the frontline NHS, and impact on patient experience, will be a useful asset in ensuring the content of our messaging is relevant and well-received, and we are reaching the right audiences at the right time.”

Career path

Clinton started her comms career as a press and PR officer for charitable organisation the Mental Health Foundation, where she worked for four years, before joining the Anchor Trust – a not-for-profit housing association for older people – as its press and PR manager.

From there, Clinton moved into her first public sector role, as a senior press officer for the then Department of Health.

She remained at the government department for nearly five years, rising to become comms advisor to the National Clinical Directors for Cancer and Coronary Heart Disease, advising ministers and officials.

Clinton’s longest tenure was as director of comms for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.

She worked there for more than a decade, developing internal and external comms, as well as advising the leadership team on reputational issues.

Roche Diagnostics

Commenting on her new role, Clinton said: “It doesn't feel like an overstatement to say that I couldn't have joined Roche at a more important time and… I already feel immensely proud to be part of a company that is doing such vital and relevant work.”

Clinton said Roche Diagnostic’s external comms are currently focused on setting out the company’s evolving role in the UK’s COVID-19 testing strategy and that her previous experience would serve her well.

She added: “I'm thankful that the crisis communications skills which I honed during my years on the public health desk at the Department of Health media centre, and then as director of communications in a busy, NHS acute hospital have stayed with me, as they have come in very useful.”

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