When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Precisioneffect chief creative officer Deborah Lotterman’s thoughts immediately turned to the inevitable disruption in video production. She knew that these productions would be minimized from full-film-crew affairs to intimate solo shoots via Zoom or smartphone. What she didn’t know was that the videos, and the patient testimonials at the heart of them, would come across more authentically as a result.
“Our video production team was like, ‘We can’t stop communicating and we can’t stop shooting. How are we going to make this happen?’” Lotterman recalls. COVID-19, then, served as a creative stimulus of sorts: “It was this catalyst for getting incredibly scrappy in how we were helping clients get their messages out.”
That’s one of several changes that the leadership team at Precisioneffect believes will outlive the pandemic. While some live shoots have returned, much of the agency’s future production will be a hybrid operation.
Precisioneffect president Carolyn Morgan believes that lessons learned over the course of the last year will serve the company well beyond 2021. It figured out virtual pitching quickly, with most of the agency’s wins — including work from Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Flexion Therapeutics and Oyster Point Pharma — stemming from virtual presentations.
Meanwhile, Precisioneffect’s parent company, Precision Value & Health, snapped up the well-regarded consultancy Across Health, which specializes in omnichannel customer engagement strategies. The deal’s central asset was Across’ Navigator365 platform — which, Morgan believes, will help Precisioneffect and its sibling PV&H firms infuse even more data and insights into their work. The cloud-based platform collects data across nine therapeutic categories.
“It’s going to change how we think about omnichannel engagement, which is going to be coming from an evidence-based place,” Morgan explains. “That’s really going to change our go-to-market strategy for clients and help us get in deeper with our clients’ customers.”
Precisioneffect saw revenue grow just under 17% last year, to $43 million from 2019’s take of $36.8 million, and Morgan reports the firm is on track to increase revenue 25% in 2021. Staff size has similarly surged, from 185 at the end of 2019 to 205 at the end of 2020.
Additions included Karen Gardiner, VP of Precisioneffect’s production team, who arrived three weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown. Lauren Heinemann joined as SVP of client services and project management and Pat Halligan as associate VP of finance.
Morgan acknowledges the challenges Precisioneffect stared down during the year. Beyond the common industry refrain — “not enough A-list people to hire” — she notes the difficulty of helping employees feel safe and comfortable during a year of intense, unprecedented stress. Weathering that storm came down to what Morgan deems the company’s differentiating factor: a sense of empathy and “we-centricity.”
“Sometimes, when parents were struggling at home with their kids, others would pick things up for them. Sometimes, people who were living alone were struggling, so people would make sure they were reaching out or creating social hours,” Morgan says. “We were constantly looking out for one another, and that’s what made us strong. Everybody came forward with empathy.”
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The idea I wish I had…
Unilever’s choice to eliminate the word “normal” from all packaging and marketing materials is groundbreaking. It’s a stunning and powerful statement at a time when race, gender and inequity are finally part of the conversation. One word can start a real change. — Deborah Lotterman