Louise Farmer and Jaber Mohamed join Engine MHP+Mischief’s healthcare practice as director and associate director, respectively.
Farmer will work with recent senior hires in the digital health and patient advocacy teams to accelerate a shift by the health practice into comms and integrated campaigning.
The agency said her 20-year career has spanned public affairs, comms and campaigning. She spent almost 10 years at Sanofi – first as its government affairs manager and later as head of corporate comms – where she led on the pharma multinational’s Brexit comms strategy and specialised in issues-management and change communications.
Farmer began her career as a parliamentary assistant and has worked for MSD, M&C Saatchi and Hanover, as well as the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), in public affairs role.
She said: “The vitality of communications in healthcare has never been more visible – in an increasingly noisy and polarised landscape, making complex information simple and engaging so that it is heard by the people that count is vital for our clients.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed will join from DHSC, where he was chief press officer for international, public health and medicine throughout the pandemic.
He oversaw media relations for the COVID-19 vaccination programme and gave strategic advice to vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi and the health secretary, Matt Hancock. He was also chief press officer to Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, and to Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer.
Mohamed began his career in journalism as a news reporter for the Haringey Independent and moved to the Mail on Sunday, where he was an investigative journalist.
After working in journalism for five years, he took on government comms roles for the Department for Transport and the Cabinet Office.
Mohamed said: “My aim is to combine my strong communications experience and the agency's unrivalled expertise in health policy to create compelling campaigns for patients and clients.”
The agency said the two appointments reflect a jump in healthcare revenue in 2020, which drove it up two places in PRWeek’s annual Top 150 healthcare rankings.
Agency bosses said they wanted to speed up the diversification of the health practice beyond its traditional strength in public policy, into healthcare comms at a moment of increased scrutiny for the sector.
Kate Pogson, head of health at Engine MHP+Mischief, said: “The past year has once again underscored the importance of communications in healthcare, from pharma company communications to broader public health campaigns. Getting the story right is critical both to advance reputations and challenge disinformation.”
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