We review four of the top performers in detail, starting with this year's table-topper, Edelman.

Edelman 1 (Healthcare Top 25 ranking)
£4,963,744 (Healthcare fee income)

Table-topper Edelman’s fee income for 2006 was built on an equal platform of organic growth and new business, says healthcare MD Mike Kan.

Last year saw the agency win the global and European accounts for Pfizer’s smoking cessation drug Champix, and it also picked up HIV-Aids treatment Prezista (J&J/Tibotech). The 50-strong firm also brought in David ­Noble to head up its science comms team BioScience.

Noble, an ex-H&K med ed man, has also been commercial director of clinical ­research outfits and has valuable commercial ­experience to broaden the team’s offering. The agency also brought in MS&L’s Claire Eldred as an associate director to lead UK health PR.

Kan cites the strength of the senior team – which includes Kate Triggs, Carolyn Paul and Stephen Spur – as one of the driving forces behind the health division’s growth of around a third on 2005. In fact, the healthcare division accounts for just over a fifth of Edelman’s UK fee income.

However, 2006 wasn’t all plain sailing. A ‘triple margin squeeze’ of an ­increasingly procurement-driven pharma industry, soaring salaries and the weakness of the dollar put the industry under pressure. For an international agency like Edelman, this last factor is a problem when it comes to leading accounts from Europe, and particularly the UK.

But this year it is the strengthening of the bonds between Edelman and consumer shop Jackie Cooper PR that excites Kan.

Launched last year, Edelman’s consumer health practice has bedded in nicely and Kan is keen to exploit the consumer nous of the JCPR team.

‘We are expecting this to be a major growth driver this year,’ he says. ‘It means we can offer health companies cut-through on consumer campaigns, but by the same token we can build credibility in the health space for consumer clients.’


Best performing areas of 2006 Oncology, obesity, sexual dysfunction
Top wins of 2006 Champix (Pfizer), Prezista (J&J/Tibotech)
Best hires of 2006 David Noble to head up the BioScience team. Claire Eldred as associate director to lead UK health PR
Expected healthcare fee income for 2007 Undisclosed
Plans for 2007 Drive consumer health

Hanover (formerly Media Strategy) 15

Almost half of recently rebranded Hanover’s work comes from the healthcare arena, and head of healthcare Andrew Harrison has big plans for this year.

Regulatory changes are forcing clients to ask for strategic counsel, and Harrison (pictured left) and his team are only too happy to show them how to make the most of NHS reforms.

Although Hanover has significant contracts with the NHS (a three-year account supporting a cancer screening programme held by the agency is worth just under £1m), its work with healthcare providers had a real boost last year.

Last year it won the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) account, meaning it now works for the group that runs all the big private hospitals in London. Through this work it picked up an extra corporate media relations brief from HCA-owned Portland Hospital (best known as the hospital UK celebs go to give birth).

The agency also expanded the remit of its work for UK hospital group ­Capio, adding corporate and public affairs to the brief. Providing support services for the NHS is big business, and hospital ­providers are looking for all the help they can get to become major suppliers to the health service.

Another key public affairs win was the American Pharmaceutical Group (APG) – the organisation that represents the 11 leading US-owned pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK. Hanover now handles all the APG’s government relations work.

But although new wins helped to push the healthcare division’s fee ­income to within £500 of £1.3m, organic growth and client retention also played a big part. ‘We finished the year with all the clients we started with, which is a ­tremendous effort,’ says Harrison.


Best performing areas of 2006 Pharmaceuticals, healthcare providers
Top wins of 2006 American Pharma Group, Hospital Corporation of America
Best hires of 2006 Alessandra Norma, Alexa Knight
Expected healthcare fee income for 2007 ‘We are expecting to grow our fees by around 20 per cent’
Plans for 2007 Strengthening public sector business

Munro & Forster 9

‘2006 was a record-breaking year for M&F,’ says MD Julie Flexen (pictured right), ‘particularly in the public and voluntary sectors.’

The agency’s healthcare team was restructured in 2006, with Sarah Hart made board director and Bryony Box given the title of head of healthcare.

M&F won work for the NHS Institute for ­Innovation and Improvement, a campaign in prisons on Hepatitis C and SmokeFree London. The agency also grew existing Department of Health public health accounts.

In the voluntary sector though, growth came from new business wins such as the Faculty of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care and the British Liver Trust.

Other wins included Grünenthal’s pain management portfolio, including a significant launch for Versatis for post-herpatic neuralgia, and global PR projects for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare/J&J including Visine (eye care) and Listerine (oral care).

Two new trends appeared in 2006, says ­Flexen. First was the increased use of social media in social health. Blog ­usage by both patients and healthcare professionals rocketed, allowing M&F to pull in user-generated content for the Top Tips for Top Mums phase of the Department of Health’s 5-a-day campaign.

The second thing that really increased last year was the media’s ­‘insatiable’ desire for real life stories. The need became such that M&F launched its specialist ‘Ambassador Management Programme’ to manage healthcare case studies.

Elsewhere in the industry, Flexen says the agency has noticed an i­ncreased focus on corporate governance, and regulatory matters ­provoking greater caution in the prescription medicines sector.

‘We have also tracked a greater focus on communicating with healthcare professional audiences, but the good news is that there seems to be a greater willingness from clients to invest in rigorous, credible evaluation to prove ROI.’

This year, M&F is ‘off to a flying start’, says Flexen, with pan-European oncology briefs and UK dermatology and wound-care accounts already in the bag.


Best performing area of 2006 Public and voluntary sector
Top wins of 2006 Grünenthal, NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Best hire of 2006 Former Whitehouse Consultancy director Helen Munro
Expected healthcare fee income for 2007
Plans for 2007 Hire more international expertise

Virgo Health 7

Being ranked at number seven in PRWeek’s Top 25 healthcare table is no mean feat in your third year in business, but that is what Virgo Health has done after growing its fee income by two thirds on 2005.

Joint MDs Angie Wiles and Sarah Matthews (pictured, left) claim they intended to have a ‘steady’ year in 2006, but managed to grow existing accounts such as Bonviva so well that the agency topped £3.1m in fees.

Three quarters of this was from existing clients, vindicating the pair’s decision to focus on current business rather than overstretch with new ­business, but Matthew and Wiles admit to pouring the agency’s ‘heart and soul’ into winning the global brief for Reckitt Benckiser’s OTC painkiller Nurofen.

The account was finally won in September ­after a fiercely competitive five-way battle, ­handing Virgo Health a brief for reputation ­management support for global brand launches.

It also won some business in the voluntary ­sector, clinching a brief to lobby government for more funding on behalf of Fair Play for Children’s Hospices.

Now over 30-strong after bringing in seven new staff last year, the agency had a raft of internal promotions, and also brought Breast Cancer Care’s Ondine Hassen into an account manager role.

Wiles says the agency really does intend to consolidate in 2007, and has turned down several new business pitches to focus on current clients.

Product launches are planned for Ceravix, Mircera and Roche UK this year, and next month Virgo Health will also release a report into changes in the industry.

‘The healthcare environment is radically different from ten years ago,’ says Matthews. ‘The regulatory environment is different, more transparency is required and consumers are more savvy. We thought it was time to look at the whole discipline of healthcare PR.’


Best performing area of 2006 Consumer health, medical education
Top wins of 2006 Nurofen
Best hire of 2006 Ondine Hassaen from Breast Cancer Care
Expected healthcare fee income for 2007 £3.1m
Plans for 2007 ‘Consolidate – it’s not about being as big as you possibly can’


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in