Finn Partners has added scientific communication experts Lazar Partners to its fast-growing health practice.

Its acquisition of the health-dedicated public and investor relations firm was first reported by PRWeek this morning. The firms, both privately held, did not disclose financial terms of the deal. 

According to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report, Finn Partners’ healthcare revenue rose 14% last year to $19.5 million. This year, the agency had projected $26 million in fees from healthcare before adding Lazar Partners’ roughly $5 million in revenue. Combined 2019 healthcare fee revenue is set to exceed $30 million.

The addition of the smaller agency’s 22-person staff brings Finn Partners’ total headcount to about 750 people, with the health team totaling about 140.

“We’re bringing a lot of experienced talent together,” Gil Bashe, managing partner leading the Finn global health practice, told MM&M

NYC-based Lazar Partners will integrate with Finn Partners’ New York health group, led by Kristie Kuhl, managing partner. Fern Lazar, who led health and financial practices at two global PR firms before founding Lazar Partners in 2001, will become a managing partner, reporting to Bashe. 

“When I met [Finn founding partner] Peter [Finn] and Gil, I recognized kindred spirits in that they too treasure their people and want to buy firms that share that spirit of collaboration and emphasis on people first,” said Lazar.

The two agencies reported no overlapping clients. Finn Partners’ roster of hospital and health systems, medical device and biopharma is complemented by that of Lazar Partners, which works with four of the top six med-tech companies and several in biotech. According to its website, Lazar has worked with Boston Scientific, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Medtronic and Depuy. Both agencies have carved out niches working with earlier-stage life sciences and health-tech firms, too. 

Lazar Partners also brings skills in investor relations to the Finn family, as well as expertise in recruiting subjects for clinical trials, patient advocacy and scientific publication preparation and planning, including three doctoral-level staffers who are expert at the latter. 

In addition to its core office in New York, Lazar Partners has staff in Seattle and Los Angeles, and several of its 20 clients are international companies, including those in Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Finn Partners has health teams in 12 of its 18 global offices. 

“What drove me [to look for a partner] in part was certainly having global reach,” added Lazar. “Even though we’ve been able to cobble together our own agency partners in other parts of the world, having the quality I know we can get with Finn was very attractive.”

Another attractive factor behind the deal, she said, was having, through Finn, access to analytics, “not just traditional PR but for the whole range of advertising and social media that we’re now engaged with,” something which is becoming increasingly important for clients. “Having to invest in that depth of analytics is hard for small agencies, Lazar said. 

She and Bashe have known each other for two decades, according to a press release about the deal, and both noted the cultural fit between the two firms.

“What’s driving this first and foremost is you have an organization [in Lazar Partners] of shared values, amazing talent focused on the same sectors of health as we are, no conflicts and a perspective about the health ecosystem that mirrors [ours],” said Bashe.

With the acquisition, Finn’s strength of knowledge in the main segments of healthcare, from provider and patient to payer and product innovator, has taken another step up, at a time when there’s a good deal of finger-pointing in Washington over the high cost of care and other issues, adds Bashe. 

“Our clients are now looking to us not just to do communications, but to understand communications that actually align the health ecosystem as opposed to divide and confront the health ecosystem,” he said. “So when you bring aboard collaborative people like this, with extensive knowledge, [at] this level, as a community who understand the health ecosystem, it enables us to create critical mass very quickly for our clients of how to navigate some very choppy waters over the next few years.”