PR Niblets

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Creating a Healthcare and Life Sciences PR Practice

Sometimes you develop elaborate plans and hope to implement them carefully. Other times, stuff happens.

This is an example of the latter.

Now in our second year, our strategic relations firm and PR practice are growing. That's despite the economy... minimal capitalization.. and other challenges of starting up a small business. We've added a significant investor relations partnership with MS-IR, headed up by Miri Segal, and together successfully added several clients. The potential for growing integrated IR/PR business is significant. More on this later.

Our friend and colleague, Steph Johnson, left for a new and exciting opportunity with a UK-based financial technology PR firm. We'll miss her decidely offbeat sensibilities but will continue to collaborate as appropriate. Steph and I have worked together twice; we both feel the threat of a third time looming.

Which takes us to healthcare. It's always been an important sector in the PR industry. And in recent years, the market has expanded aggressively into numerous related segments including medical devices, pharma and life sciences. I've been on the periphery many times -- and worked on many accounts in the space -- but truly never became the domain expert. At my last firm, I watched a significant healthcare/life sciences practice develop and ultimately walk out the door.

At Feintuch Communications, we served an initial client in the category and began incubating and working with several more. Many other leads began to materialize. Opportunity was knocking at our door... and then... serendipity struck in the form of Jules Abraham.

While searching for a healthcare freelancer for a former client, I met Jules -- again.

It turns out that we met briefly several years ago but the timing wasn't right and we each went our separate ways. Now, at age 39 (and sharing my May 3 birthday), and with Jules "between jobs" as so many PR practitioners can lament over the last 18 months, we restarted our conversation.

First and most importantly, Jules is a nice guy. His business credentials are equally impressive. He brings nearly 15 years of healthcare and life sciences public and investor relations experience. He's worked in nearly all aspects of the healthcare and life sciences industry including large and specialty pharmaceutical, biotechnology, clinical diagnostics and medical device companies, as well as small health systems, regional hospitals, managed care organizations, Medicare Part D providers and advocacy groups.

Previously, he helped launch and manage the healthcare public relations division at Lippert/Heilshorn & Associates. He also served in the global healthcare group at GCI Group and held positions at Manning, Selvage & Lee, Zeno Group and GTFH Public Relations.

He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the College of William & Mary and a master's degree in public communications/journalism from Fordham University. He lives in New York with his wife, Dana, son and two cats.

So now, the chance timing of our meeting again was amazingly right. We had clients ready to join the firm but we lacked the expertise to serve them properly. Jules had clients and former clients that wanted to work with him but preferred a more stable agency environment. We talked; we planned; we started to work together over the last few months.

Now, Jules has joined our firm as a vice president and managing director of our healthcare and life sciences practice. We've tied the practice to our investor relations partnership. This allows us to offer an integrated public and investor relations package to companies seeking to go public, or those that are public but are seeking better coordination of their messaging and outreach to Wall Street, Main Street and the media.

The formal press release goes out this week and soon we'll be announcing our initial clients. Wish us luck; send us your referrals; and call/write to meet Jules. In addition to talking healthcare, get him started on his days in the Peace Corps as a volunteer (where he became fluent in Spanish), his songwriting and his work as a "not-so-accomplished" Naam yoga practitioner. If the conversation goes well, he might even offer you a copy of his recent CD of original music for meditation.

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