W2O is unique among communication firms in that we have the largest team of healthcare-focused earned media professionals and social media experts. One of those individuals is Los Angeles-based Peter Duckler, a Sr. Group Director who prides himself on being “all media, all the time.” I’m excited to share the following insights from Peter about how he helps our healthcare clients achieve and surpass their communication objectives; why W2O’s Earned Media Team is not just the biggest but among the best; and why the use of analytics as the fuel for engagement efforts on behalf of our clients is so important.
Mike Nelson: What do you do at W2O and why is our Earned Media Team so unique?
Peter Duckler: At the end of the day, we are strategic storytellers, passionate about creating narratives and thought leadership platforms for science and health-focused companies that resonate with the audiences that matter most to achieving their organizational objectives. Everything I do is powered by the most modern, collaborative team of professionals in the business, who are connected 24/7 and follow the data to inform the stories we tell and to whom.
Some firms have pivoted away from earned media, but we’ve doubled down to build a best-in-class team because our clients realize it’s more important than ever. We’ve tripled in size over the last few years, attracting top talent from leading news outlets as well as PR and digital agencies. Every team member has experience in virtually all aspects of healthcare, from Big Pharma and biotech to medical technology, consumer health and healthcare systems. We hold long-standing relationships with reporters and influencers at mainstream consumer outlets, industry trades, and new-media properties. In fact, our Earned Media Team is the most followed on social media by healthcare reporters, which speaks to the trust between our team and the media.
What sets us further apart from other agencies is that we don’t believe in silos. We have an integrated mentality – working across paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) channels –
and we know how and when to pull the right levers. We work with our analytics colleagues to monitor conversations online and discover the “white space” that we can own on behalf of our clients. And, we often partner with our social media colleagues to create content that creates “surround sound” and bring in other credible voices to tell our story. We collaborate closely with our Executive Coaching Team – experienced producers and reporters from top broadcast outlets – to ensure clients shine during interviews on the Today show, CNBC and other thought-leading outlets.
MN: How has the media landscape changed? How has it impacted your work?
PD: Technology has changed everything. There’s so much noise out there, but excellent storytelling is the constant. To break through with our stories, we need to truly understand where the people we’re trying to reach are consuming news, how to best advance the conversations that are taking place, and the impact of our efforts so we can see what’s working, what’s not and course correct if necessary.
Influence has changed. Reporters now follow each other on social media. We need to zoom in on the reporter who is going to lead the conversation and best advance the story we want told. Others will then follow. This is the new normal.
The concept of deadlines has changed. Stories break all the time, and we need to have real-time insights and be prepared to respond immediately.
The tools of the trade have changed significantly. We have to think not only about which outlets and reporters to pitch, but also about how we want to break and enhance a story. So much of media is now interactive that visuals and videos are more important than ever. While I wouldn’t say the press release is dead (yet), it may not be the tool we decide to use to tell a story. In fact, we might announce a major initiative with a single tweet or a LinkedIn post. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is relationships. Relationships still matter.
MN: Why is analytics important in what you do?
PD: One of the Earned Media Team’s biggest priorities is embracing agile analytics. We engage analytics in everything we do, and it doesn’t slow us down – it only makes us smarter and more efficient. As healthcare undergoes massive disruption, this is more important than ever. Collaboration with our Analytics Team members enables us to measure success, identify opportunities and emerging reporters, figure out how news is moving in the media, and sustain long-standing relationships.
MN: What gets you up in the morning?
PD: Coffee, lots of coffee. While I never complain about the lovely weather on the West Coast, life here requires an early start. The news never sleeps, so it’s important to get an early read on what’s happening in the world to inform the day ahead.
MN: What recent accomplishment are you most proud of?
PD: Just recently, we secured a cover story in Newsweek about the future of cancer treatments. This was truly a team effort. Our Analytics Team identified the contributing writer who wrote the piece, we collaborated across the Earned Media Team on the right experts to share their perspective, and our Value & Access Team provided guidance on the right messaging. This all came together extremely quickly, given the tight deadline required. The collaboration between the integrated W2O team and clients was a beautiful thing.
MN: When did you recognize that you were passionate about media relations?
PD: In high school, I was a teen ambassador for Planned Parenthood, teaching kids about reproductive health. I spoke to students at schools and youth groups throughout Wisconsin, and was the media spokesperson, giving interviews to newspapers, TV and radio stations. It gave me insight into the entire PR process. I was hooked. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, I took a job as a junior account executive at a firm in Chicago where I specialized in media relations. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.
Please note that we are hiring at all levels on the West Coast. Join W2O as we advance toward our goal of making the world a healthier place through healthcare marketing and communications.