HLG Communications CEO David Winigrad calls himself a “perennial optimist” when asked how he sees business for the coming year. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” he says, “and we’ve always found a way to be successful even as the industry has changed and evolved year after year.”
And as every year ushers in new challenges, Winigrad says this year, his agency’s biggest obstacle is reimbursement. “This year it’s been helping our clients overcome reimbursement challenges of their products,” he explains. “If only it was efficacy and safety that were our challenges we would be better off, but those are not necessarily the principal considerations.”
Despite price-conscious payers and their narrowing formularies, HLG saw 20% growth year over year and brought in new clients and new work. “We added Alliqua BioMedical, a Pennsylvania-based wound-care and drug-delivery company. We launched Biovance as a product for them and we’ll be launching two additional products for them this year. Also we added Delavau, a Philadelphia-based OTC pharma contract company.”
HLG kept pace with its core clients, too. Winigrad says the agency worked on two diagnostics for GE Healthcare. “One is a diagnostic molecular imaging agent that assesses sympathetic nerve function in the heart for diagnosing heart failure,” he shares. “We also launched Vizamyl, which is a PET imaging agent that identifies the presence of amyloid plaque in the brain for patients who potentially have Alzheimer’s.”
Despite growth, Winigrad says the agency hasn’t made any huge additions in headcount due to its “flexible staffing model,” but he notes that the agency has added Colleen Brett as a creative director.
“One thing we’re very excited about,” he says, “is that we’ve spun off a new company called Centric Infographics.” The company will look to take advantage of infographics’ unique ability to “communicate complicated information to a variety of audiences.”
“We think it leverages our expertise in healthcare, communications and creative,” he adds. “What we’re most excited about is when we create an infographic, rather than it being a one-time tactic that loses value, it actually grows in value over time as it becomes searched, indexed, shared, pinned and tweeted about.
“In my opinion, this is a seismic paradigm shift in how money is spent and the kind of investments clients make in tactics.” Winigrad notes that one infographic created for the Epilepsy Foundation resulted in “100,000 page views on Facebook.” The agency has also just launched an infographic for the Christiana Care Health System for their joint replacement center.
“We think that there’s a tremendous opportunity in the hospital segment to take quality data and to turn that into powerful infographics that are easily understood by lay and professional audiences,” he asserts.
As he turns his gaze to the future, Winigrad believes HLG will see strong headwinds going into 2014, mostly due to its focus on mid-size pharma and biotechs.
“We offer an uncomplicated approach to doing business,” he says. “We’re nimble and we’re cost effective and we deliver. I think that leaves us perfectly positioned for the constrained budgets and limited resources that many of our clients are struggling with.”