Healthcare fueled PR’s recovery over the past 12 months

The continued impact of COVID-19, vaccine roll-outs, booster shots and health equity plus groundbreaking technological innovation mean healthcare is a more ubiquitous factor than ever across communications.

Pfizer's newly FDA-approved Comirnaty vaccine is the latest health narrative dominating PR. (Pic: Getty Images.)
Pfizer's newly FDA-approved Comirnaty vaccine is the latest health narrative dominating PR. (Pic: Getty Images.)

Monday’s ratification of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by the FDA was just the latest milestone on a long road of communication and messaging issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

As our sister title MM+M’s Marc Iskowitz noted, it is the first of the vaccines to earn official federal approval and is prompting businesses and schools to issue vaccine mandates and convince unvaccinated people to get the shot as the Delta variant spikes.

Shortly after the announcement, the Pentagon and New York City schools said they will make vaccination mandatory. Goldman Sachs said it will mandate vaccines for all staffers and visitors to its offices. Delta Air Lines is raising healthcare premiums for unvaccinated staff. United Airlines already mandated that employees get vaccinated by October.

All these measures need careful consideration and communication with multiple stakeholders, internally and externally - and there will be continued need for this for the foreseeable future as the world navigates this crippling pandemic.

Healthcare has long been an important part of the PR economy, spanning pharmaceuticals, hospital systems, OTC drugs, insurance, public health, government education/PSAs, medical devices and care providers.

Over the past 18 months it has taken on an even more crucial role in the ecosystem because of the above reasons. Pretty much every story or narrative these days is communicated through a public health lens in some form or fashion, whether that involves coronavirus infection, vaccines, travel, returning to physical work spaces or the resumption of leisure activities.

From a PR agency point of view, healthcare fuels significant amounts of business at mainstream firms such as Edelman, Weber Shandwick, BCW, FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ogilvy, Porter Novelli and Golin.

It also supports a slew of specialist shops, ranging from Real Chemistry to Syneos Health to Spectrum Science to RxMosaic to M Booth Health to JPA Health and many more. Then there are generalist midsize firms with a heavy focus on healthcare, such as Finn Partners, Zeno, MSL, Havas, Ruder Finn, Marina Maher Communications and Imre.

At the biggest PR agencies, health accounts for between 20-30% of revenues and has been the principal area of growth over the past year that has driven them out of the recession caused by COVID-19.

Edelman’s health revenue in 2020 was 23-24% of its total, which equates to over $200 million and would, for example, place it comfortably in the top 10 agencies in our sister publication MM+M’s annual agency rankings list.

The pandemic and last year’s racial reckoning shone a harsh light on health equity, the worryingly disparate levels of access to vaccines, medical education and services throughout the U.S. - and efforts to counteract this and provide everyone with an affordable level of care. It also highlighted weaknesses in the supply chain and transparency around that.

As well as the regular healthcare topics PRWeek always covers, there is also tremendous growth around new areas of emerging coverage including wellness, mental health, diversity, alternative and organic medicine, cannabis, sexual health, femtech and telehealth.

Added to that is the exciting technological innovation transforming the health landscape day by day, spanning AI, telehealth, cloud-based services, mobile apps, blockchain, 3D printing, machine learning, individualized care, smart devices, avatars, wearables, burnout prevention, lifestyle and mindfulness, insurance and reimbursement.

It is for all these reasons that PRWeek is ramping up its coverage after Labor Day by launching Healthcare Focus to cover this all-important and quickly evolving sector, including a Healthcare Daily email newsletter that debuts on 9/8.

This will crystalize in November with the unveiling of PRWeek’s Health Influencer 30 list of movers and shakers in the healthcare PR space, plus a package of content and a print issue that will concentrate solely on health-related topics, brands, teams and individuals.

Let us know what areas you think we should be covering and send us your pitches through the normal channels - and sign up for Healthcare Daily here.

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