WASHINGTON: After five years away from Finsbury Glover Hering, Scott Weier has rejoined its staff as a partner in the health practice in the company’s office in Washington, DC.
Weier worked at FGH from 2010 to 2016 and then joined Kaiser Permanente, a California-based healthcare organization.
Weier led Kaiser's corporate communications for the Mid-Atlantic region before joining the organization's national team to lead enterprise media relations. Once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, he worked on the company's community health team, which included overseeing COVID-19 response efforts.
PRWeek had some questions for Weier about his return to the agency. See below for his responses.
What is it like for you to be returning to FGH?
It’s exciting to see how the firm has continued to grow and evolve. Since I left in 2015, the firm has grown from about 130 people, with the majority working out of Washington, DC, to its current size of about 800 people and 19 offices globally. While the growth and change are exciting, what’s felt best, and what ultimately compelled me to return, is what’s remained the same: smart, fun, supportive colleagues helping clients navigate and strategically break through an increasingly noisy and high-stakes environment.
How do you think the health communications field has changed between your first stint with the company and now?
When I first joined FGH, then Glover Park Group, in 2010, the idea of an integrated communications offering, with teams that were well-versed across earned, paid, social, public policy, research and owned platforms, was still novel. That integration is no longer new, but the equation continues to get more complex, with brands and audiences navigating more and more communications channels. This is especially true within the chaotic but extremely important world of health communications.
Where I see the most evolution is within the realm of analytics and measurement. Increasingly sophisticated listening tools make it easier for communicators to pinpoint audience interests and gauge whether themes and messages are actually getting traction. Analysis that used to take days can sometimes be done in minutes. These new capabilities create more accountability, and thus more value, for communicators advising on where to invest scarce resources.
Given your time working on Kaiser's COVID-19 response efforts, do you see common keys for effective communications concerning the virus, vaccines, etc.?
COVID-19 has reinforced what those of us in public health have known for a long time, which is that the messenger is often more important than the message when it comes to capturing attention and earning trust. It’s not enough for organizations to engage in the hard work of determining what they can and should say about the state of the science. They must go the extra distance of determining who has credibility with different communities and how best to partner with and support those individuals and organizations.
How could organizations’ or governments' communications about COVID be improved?
We know that people ultimately look for consistent information when making decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones, so the top question in my mind is how do we create infrastructure that minimizes contradiction and maximizes the flow of consistent, reliable information?
I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in rapidly shoring up our public health infrastructure through the pandemic, but so much more needs to be done, especially in the realm of communications support and coordination. Recognizing how rapidly information, and mis-information, flows, we need to build upon and fund the traditional public health information officer role. As an extension of that work, we need to continue to invest in partnerships with community-based organizations that have the most credibility with underserved communities.
What areas or campaigns will you be working on?
I’ll focus primarily on FGH’s U.S. healthcare client base. I’m especially interested in the intersection of healthcare and public health.