100 Agencies: Siren Interactive
Siren Interactive's leader Wendy White has a level of personal expertise with her business niche that few agency prexies can match. Her experience in the rare-disease space, which Siren has served during the last decade, was forged during her time as a caregiver for her daughter, who was afflicted with a rare disorder. “What I saw was the critical role that the Internet plays in changing the whole culture around a disease,” she explains. “At that point, I knew we had to be a different kind of agency. ”
As it turns out, Siren was ahead of the curve—witness the number of agencies who now enthuse about wanting to delve deeper into the specialty-drug and rare-disease spaces. Similarly, Siren's focus on digital predates the industry's digital awakening by eight or nine years.
But Siren's eye hasn't been on the competition. It has instead devoted much of its energy to helping clients figure out social media. “What we do—the emphasis on the relationship between patients and caregivers—naturally lends itself to social media,” White notes.
Siren notched several social-media firsts for its clients. For Lundbeck, it created a Facebook page around Huntington's Disease. For Baxter, they built an open Facebook wall for people with hemophilia A (generating more of a Facebook audience than the National Hemophilia Foundation did). For the launch of Genzyme's Kynamro (for homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia), it debuted a YouTube channel. Genzyme also tapped Siren as digital AOR for its global cardiovascular franchise.
While these accounts pushed Siren towards the $10 million revenue figure, White credits the agency's continued growth to the diversification of its client base. At the same time, she believes that clients are more receptive to what Siren is selling than ever before.
Siren has also added emotional heft to its pitches by inviting caregivers to contribute. “Everybody talks about how debilitating these situations can be, but when you have somebody sitting in the room, sharing about how she's fighting for a child's life—that changes the tenor of the conversation.” To that end, Siren published Uncommon Challenges; Shared Journeys: Stories of Love, Hope, and Community, a book that recounts the difficulties faced by caregivers and patients.In the last year, the firm went from 33 staffers to 44, a number at which White feels confident. “I'm thinking I'd like to stay under 50 until I'm really confident,” she says. “You know how it is—you go up to 49, and next thing you know, you're at 80. We're going to be smart about growth.”