New York, NY – May 11, 2017 – GCI Health, the leading healthcare-focused global public relations agency, today announced the hire of Victoria “Tori” Fort as senior vice president/Market Leader in Washington DC. Tori will be responsible for building the agency’s presence in the area and expanding on GCI Health’s capabilities in health public affairs and policy, leveraging the agency’s strong network of policy experts. Tori is a longtime DC veteran who started her career in grassroots marketing and is an expert in translating complex scientific communications to reach diverse audiences. She has spent her career successfully working to bring together patient advocates, healthcare thought leaders and biopharmaceutical companies on joint initiatives.
“GCI Health is focused on helping our clients navigate today’s rapidly evolving and sometimes unpredictable political and regulatory environment,” said Wendy Lund, CEO, GCI Health. “With many uncertainties in the healthcare ecosystem, it’s essential to be able to anticipate policy and legislative actions and trends to support our clients while developing positions on myriad issues, such as drug pricing, compassionate use and drug regulation. Tori’s expertise will help the agency further build out campaigns through the lens of key decision makers and position our clients to advance their objectives in an increasingly value-driven healthcare system.”
Prior to GCI Health, Tori led key accounts across the Chandler Chicco/inVentiv Health network of biopharma and consumer health clients and served as Ruder Finn’s DC expert. A seasoned C-Suite counselor, Tori has guided clients from emerging biotechs to Fortune 500 leaders and worked across patient advocacy groups, non-profits and the biopharmaceutical industry on a range of award-winning efforts.
About GCI Health GCI Health is a full-service specialty healthcare communications firm recently named Healthcare Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report and All-Around Best Agency to Work For. The agency’s client roster spans broadly across all sectors in healthcare, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology, consumer health, provider groups (hospitals and managed care), health IT, beauty and aesthetics and non-profit. GCI Health offers clients an accessible senior level leadership team, a commitment to beating client expectations, and an obsession with anticipating the challenges of an increasingly complex and transforming healthcare communications environment. With a deep focus in multichannel marketing, high science, consumer activation, crisis management, reputation building, patient advocacy and health education, GCI Health’s focus on delivering results is unrelenting. For more information, please visit www.gcihealth.com.
GCI Health had a night to remember at The Holmes Report SABRE awards ceremony on May 2, 2017. The night started off being named Best Agency to Work For in our category, and culminated in the ultimate delight as we were named Best of the Best – meaning we are the number one agency to work for in all of North America. This is a testament to the amazing work of each and every employee and the outstanding culture that we’ve created at GCI Health. Writing about the win, The Holmes Report stated, “There’s constant surveillance to make sure employees are engaged and growing, not quietly burning out. New hires are also paired a ‘buddy’ to help them get acclimated. CEO Wendy Lund has monthly lunches with VPs and SVPs to get to know them, ensure career development and hear about their wishes and dreams.” The entire write up can be viewed here.
GCI Health was also named Healthcare Agency of the Year for the third time (we also won in 2011 and 2015). This was our seventh nomination as a finalist — the only agency to hold that honor. Winning Healthcare Agency of the Year is a tribute to our amazing clients who give us the opportunity to help them shine. Paul Holmes specifically stated, “WPP’s GCI Health unit has been the most consistent performer in the healthcare public relations space over the past five years, a fixture on this list of leaders in the category distinguished by a balance of stability—Wendy Lund and her management team providing a steady hand on the tiller—and restless innovation that has seen the integration of social media and content creation and a willingness to ‘break the rules’ (in a good way) of traditionally staid healthcare marketing.” The entire write up can be viewed here.
Last, but certainly not least, GCI Health won, for the first time, Best Medical Technology Campaign of the Year and we were a finalist for Pharmaceutical: RX Campaign of the Year.
In every industry, there are individuals or organizations that rise to the top as revolutionary. They push boundaries and provoke new ideas. They are seen as influencers and knowledgeable frontrunners that facilitate growth. They are thought leaders.
In public relations, our clients often look to us to help an individual or company achieve thought leadership status among key stakeholders. Doing so is, admittedly, easier said than done, and it’s important that public relations professionals take unique, industry-specific approaches to ensure differentiation. However, there are several strategies that can put you, and your clients, on the right track to recognition.
Looking for knowledge
Thought leaders come in many shapes and sizes. A thought leader could be a scientist discovering the newest medical advancement, or the tech startup creating new apps that transform simple daily tasks. Yet, even among vastly different interests or specialties, there are a few attributes that can be found in all true thought leaders: a genuine interest in the greater good of the industry or specialty; a wealth of knowledge about relevant industry trends; and a willingness to take risks.
1. A genuine interest in the greater good of the industry or specialty
A genuine interest in the industry or specialty is essential to becoming a thought leader and will drive an individual or company’s desire to participate in communication activities that elevate their thought leadership status. However, a genuine interest in the greater good of the communities affected by the individual or company is what truly differentiates an individual or entity. Great speakers, writers and presenters are authentic and passionate.
2. A wealth of knowledge about relevant industry trends
It’s much easier for an executive to be a thought leader if he or she rigorously stays current on the latest trends and news driving their industry. These trends and topics will be of natural interest to target audiences. If an executive is well versed in these areas, he or she will be able to easily provide commentary or opinion — and even more important, to apply knowledge of such trends to their business. From there, it will be your job as the public relations specialist to translate those insights into unique communication angles.
3. A willingness to take risks
Risk taking is a leadership behavior. No one becomes a leader by playing it safe. Risk could translate to a particular product investment, community focus or unique message. Individuals or companies who identify unmet needs in the communities they serve — and create plans to address those needs — will be more likely to differentiate themselves over the long term.
It’s important to remember you may have clients who are not traditionally progressive. Clients don’t need to be inventors, multimillionaire CEOs or Harvard-graduate prodigies to establish themselves as thought leaders. Small but meaningful gestures can still make a big impact with the stakeholders you’re trying to reach.
Differentiating clients as thought leaders in their industries
After learning the nuances of the individual or organization, the next step is to create an action plan to elevate their visibility. To best represent your thought leader client, you should understand the industry, individual or company you are representing, be selective with opportunities, and be truly innovative in your thought sharing.
1. Understand the industry, individual or company you are representing.
As a public relations professional, it’s important for you to truly grasp the industry, individual or company you’re representing, so you can create communication strategies that reach the right audiences with the right messages. What is deemed thought leadership in one industry or community may not be important to another. As such, do your research and understand what will resonate with your audiences. Where do your client’s stakeholders get their information? What is important to them? Resolving these essential questions will help ensure your strategy is the right one.
2. Be selective with opportunities.
A thought leader does not need to be everywhere with the same message. Finding the right message to be used in the right venue will elevate your client over other individuals or organizations. Be strategic in the opportunities that you recommend and cater your messages to the audience of each particular opportunity. Only consider speaking engagements, industry conferences, community events and media outreach that strongly tie to the message you’re trying to deliver. This approach will enable your client to become a sought-after resource.
3. Be truly innovative in your thought sharing.
Help your client cut through the clutter by creating unique and customized messages and delivering them on innovative platforms. Not only should your message bring something new to the discussion, it should also be strategically delivered through channels that reach the right audiences. What are your clients doing differently from their competitors? What is unique about how they reach their objectives? Are their objectives focused on the end goal of helping a community? What new tools or technologies are available for message sharing (i.e., Facebook Live)? These are the types of questions that will inform smart, strategic and distinct messages.
Recognizing potential risks
As mentioned, reasonable risk can be essential to establishing thought leadership — but unnecessary risk is never good for business. Help your client identify and prepare for potential risks. Remember that with high visibility comes the possibility for backlash and controversy. Weigh the risks before implementing any communications tactic, and anticipate potential issues that may arise. Create action plans and messages to mitigate risks, and gain approval in advance. That way, if an issue surfaces, your agency team and your client will be prepared.
Preparing for success
Establishing and promoting thought leadership is an exciting, but challenging, task. To be successful:
- Work with your clients to understand the unique attributes that set them apart from their competitors
- Identify the right opportunities through research.
- Be selective and innovative in your message development and dissemination.
- Prepare for risks that may arise.
By approaching thought leadership with these tips in mind, your clients will be ready to elevate their visibility within their industries, as experts in their fields.
We are so proud to announce that Pauline Ma, Senior Digital Strategist, has been named to the 2017 MM&M’s Women to Watch list. This list is comprised of 20 US-based healthcare marketing pros under the age of 40, below the level of VP, who demonstrate standout work through their performance on behalf of a brand, a campaign, or for their organization. Pauline is a digital superstar, creating and executing award-winning industry-first breakthrough programs in the highly regulated healthcare industry. She is so deserving of this great acknowledgement and everyone at GCI Health is so proud of her!
While healthcare has it’s nuances and regulations that make it its own industry, it’s important to consider how innovations in other fields can transform the way we explore solutions and understand health.
Since 1987, SXSW has ranged in both size and types of industries represented – year after year, panels on healthcare topics seem to grow in number and popularity as technology continues to play an important role in the evolution of patient care. This year, the health theme was certainly in the spotlight, with a number of the official “Health Track” sessions having been moved to the main stage venue of the Austin Convention Center.
In particular, two key focus areas emerged from the get-go: how consumer-driven technology trends can more tangibly be applied to address healthcare needs and what’s in store for the expanding role of technology in shaping the future of patient-centered care. Below we provide insight into a few of these healthcare trends that provide promise and inspiration for how technology can continue to serve as an empowering tool for healthcare providers and patients alike.
Remembering a Time When There Wasn’t “Ridesharing”
Hailing a cab (or better yet, scheduling one by phone in advance) may be a thing of the past for many city dwellers, but along with the increasing saturation of ridesharing options comes a new opportunity in the healthcare marketplace – an added option that may encourage consumers to take the next step for their personal health. Missed appointments cost the healthcare system about $150 billion a year; imagine how much money can be saved just by ensuring that patients actually get to the doctor’s office when they weren’t able to before. Take a non-emergency injury and, for just one person, the cost of calling an ambulance versus requesting a ride with the tap of a button could have significantly different financial implications and, potentially, be the difference between someone seeking medical attention or not at all, not to mention freeing up that ambulance for more critical emergencies.
Focusing in on the Power of Telehealth
With the expansion of telehealth and other emerging health technology, we are now entering a new healthcare delivery landscape. Advances in this type of technology are not only necessary, but have very clear practical applications when considering the geographic spectrum of our society. One such example is Orbis International, a non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Orbis uses its Flying Eye Hospital to not only provide high quality eye care and train local medical staff in developing countries, but to also provide education from the aircraft to virtually all corners of the globe. It leverages 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities enabling Orbis, with the help of volunteers, to train more doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals on new techniques for eye surgery, primarily in areas where there is little access to professional development. As telehealth continues to show real promise, this technology will only continue to evolve and expand into other areas of healthcare, helping to eliminate other preventable diseases and health conditions.
Viewing Virtual Reality as More than Just a Gimmick
Virtual Reality (VR) experiences continue to become increasingly accessible – both in availability and price point. Doctors are exploring how VR can potentially be used to reduce the opioid use to treat pain (the key point here is to reduce, not necessarily replace). Based on the theory that presence – which is what people feel when they step into a VR environment – can feel like reality, researchers have indicated that the immersive experience could have a profound neurobiological effect and future use in treatment in the areas of pain management and post-stroke rehabilitation.
Empowering Patients to Push Boundaries
Through the power of advanced technology, patients themselves have an opportunity to challenge companies to push boundaries for technological breakthroughs. Individuals like Melissa Stockwell, a former U.S. Army officer who lost her leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq, are pushing their physical limitations to not only reclaim their lives, but to also help transform technology for the greater good on a larger scale. Stockwell wears Ottobock’s X3, an advanced microprocessor prosthetic leg developed in collaboration with the U.S. military, which is equipped with technology that predicts the user’s movement and adapts the knee’s operation to match. The technology has helped Stockwell and other amputees fulfill accomplishments beyond their expectations – Stockwell herself took home a Bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. It is through these firsthand experiences that patients can help identify key areas for improvement in technology to help further bridge the gap between human limitation and human potential.
Wondering What’s Next for Wearables?
Wearables may have already become a worn out (no pun intended!) term, but a few showcases at SXSW indicate that there’s a wealth of opportunity ahead. Take “brain wearables,” which most commonly refer to electroencephalograms, or EEGs, which are sensors that detect electrical activity in the brain. While we currently don’t live in an age where everyday consumers are wearing brain wearable headbands, perhaps in the future we will. Paired with machine learning algorithms (being given the chance to learn and recognize data over time), EEGs can detect patterns of activity and analyze the location of where it is occurring in the brain. This technology exists today, and in one application it may mean that we can control the movement of objects, hands-free – Emotiv demonstrated this by having an audience member control the movement of a Bluetooth ball just by wearing one of its headsets. In a serious healthcare setting, it could also mean re-establishing a connection to society for patients with debilitating nervous system diseases such as ALS by providing them with a means of expressing themselves that is independent of any physical limitations they may have.
While healthcare has its many nuances and regulations that make it distinctly its own industry, it is important to consider how innovations in other fields, as explored by just a few demos and conversations at SXSW, have the potential to transform the way we explore solutions and understand health.
By Pauline Ma, Senior Digital Strategist at GCI Health
Emily Williams, Digital Strategist at GCI Health