On the way out of an AstraZeneca pitch last year, the PRI Healthcare Solutions team felt it had done a fine job presenting itself and its vision for the brand. During the meeting, the team members sketched out the drug’s compelling clinical story and emphasized the potential to better educate audiences about it. Still, PRI execs didn’t get their hopes up too high. “I thought we might get one part of the assignment,” recalls SVP and GM Tammy Chernin.
PRI instead received the lion’s share of it, including video, microsite and chatbot components. It was yet another sign that the agency has become a preferred partner for health organizations of all stripes and sizes.
“We’ve gone from clients thinking of us as being able to do specific projects to being a more comprehensive partner,” says group president, medical education Mary Anderson, who joined PRI last July from Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide Medical Education.
Part of this is attributable to shifts in attitude and approach. “We’ve started to show the world what we’ve been doing for the last few years,” Chernin explains. “We’re actively seeking out new opportunities, as opposed to waiting for them to come to us.”
Anderson agrees, adding, “We’re more active in industry programs. We’ve more proactively presented ourselves to procurement- and enterprise-level stakeholders at pharma.”
Recent results suggest that the efforts are paying off. Revenue jumped 22.9% in 2018 to $17.2 million from 2017’s sum of $14 million. The agency added Exact Sciences, Intersect, Emergent BioSolutions and Sun Pharmaceuticals to a client roster that already included Bayer, Sanofi, Janssen and AbbVie. Head count spiked from 68 full-timers at the end of 2017 to 80 at the end of 2018.
Notable arrivals included senior group medical director Javier Negron, who joined from Medscape’s educational arm to lead a team that includes numerous Ph.D.s across different specialties. The additional scientific brainpower bolsters what was already an area of strength for PRI.
Couple that with the agency’s longstanding content orientation — like MM&M, PRI is owned by Haymarket Media — and you’ve got an offering that’s well-aligned to accommodate just about every client ask. “I think we have what a lot of agencies are struggling to create: a model with strong content, deep science and digital and data skills,” Anderson says. “Other agencies can bring the science and strategy, maybe, but we can do that and bring the audience.”
The irony, Chernin adds, is that “some clients don’t know that they can and should be looking for this. We go into the room and show them we really understand science and data, and that we can translate it across all the channels we have at our disposal. You can hear the deep sigh of relief.”
Up next: Making sure that pharma and healthcare organizations are aware of all that PRI has to offer. “If there’s anything we suffer from, it’s that the world doesn’t know us enough,” Anderson says. “As we get out there and people see us more, our business is going to grow even more.”