Exclusive: Pegasus veterans launch hybrid healthcare agency

Former Pegasus heavyweights Jo Spadaccino and Stuart Hehir have today launched healthcare agency Stirred, PRWeek can reveal.

(L-R) Stirred co-founders Jo Spadaccino and Stuart Hehir
(L-R) Stirred co-founders Jo Spadaccino and Stuart Hehir

The pair were senior colleagues at Pegasus, now part of Mind+Matter, for more than 10 years and were part of the shareholding team that grew it from a 20-person, £2m team to a 140-person, £12m agency.

Spadaccino founded the pharmaceuticals and life sciences team at Pegasus and led it for eight years before becoming head of client partnerships, while Hehir founded the creative and digital services teams; collectively they contributed two-thirds of the agency’s income, they said.

Spadaccino began her comms career 25 years ago as a PR manager at Bedford Hospital. She worked for Cohn & Wolfe and Munro & Forster before Pegasus, followed by a brief stint at ZPB Associates.

Hehir also began his career in the mid-90s, specialising in consumer comms. He was creative account director at Lexis and head of consumer at Chameleon before joining Pegasus as creative director.

Challenging 'groupthink' in health

Spadaccino and Hehir said Stirred was a ‘healthy hybrid’ agency, predicated on their belief that the best work is based on a blend of perspectives, experiences and skills.

Spadaccino said: “Everyone is using the word ‘hybrid’ in relation to virtual/office-based working at the moment, but for us the benefits of a hybrid concept go way further.

“Whether it’s bringing fresh perspectives from other verticals to challenge the health sector’s tendency to groupthink, blending strategic communications theory with the reality of integrated programme execution, or placing as much importance on bringing people together as the initial spark of an idea, there can be no 'one-size' approach, but it still takes skill and experience to navigate it all. That’s where we come in.”

Launch clients

Stirred will offer comms, marketing and creative consultancy services, including patient engagement and influencer relations, to businesses and organisations that want to “positively influence health”.

The co-founders said they had three launch clients in the pharma and scientific research sectors, but were unable to disclose names for contractual reasons.

Spadaccino said the agency was seeking like-minded colleagues and clients, and that she envisaged working with consumer health, non-profits and public sector bodies, in addition to pharma and life-sciences clients.

Staff and physical presence

The co-founders said they intended to build a hybrid workforce comprised of a core of permanent staff at all levels of seniority, along with those offering their talents to the agency on “a more fluid basis”.

They said the model would give clients the best of both words; consistency and long-term partnerships, as well as the ability to tap into a “diverse and deep pool of broader talent”.

The agency will begin life as a remote-working operation with some team meetings held in serviced offices, but some form of permanent home, “to collaborate, bond and build”, is planned for the future.

Hehir said: “As the world repairs and responds to the needs of today, health has now truly become everyone’s business. Jo and I have always felt a huge weight of responsibility working in health comms and believe that our profession can make a significant difference to health outcomes. He added: “There has never been a more opportune moment for fresh thinking and switching things up a bit, and what better way to do that than creating something purpose-built from the ground up.”

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