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At this year’s ASCO meeting, thousands of abstracts were presented demonstrating both foundational and pioneering research that will no doubt advance our understanding of cancer.  However, we still don’t have a cure and there is more work to be done. Great scientists, companies and institutions are working every day to help discover new treatment approaches and pathways – from activating the body’s own immune cells to understanding how combination therapies could exponentially improve outcomes for cancer patients.

Over the years, W2O’s Social Oncology Project has profiled some of the most influential physicians, advocates and patients engaged in the oncology conversation online. The key finding in this year’s report was that while the conversation volume continues to grow, there have emerged clear communities that own the dialogue and serve as trusted resources for professionals and patients alike.  These influencers are responsible for helping us cut through the clutter of hashtags and facilitate productive discussion to drive the next breakthroughs in cancer.
The Cancer Research Institute is an organization founded on harnessing the immune system’s power to conquer all cancers. Their work helped to pave the way for one of the most foundational shifts we have seen in cancer treatment today – the field of immunotherapy.  However, their influence goes far beyond facilitating research: CRI was one of the 4 most-shared domains for both patients and advocates in the online cancer conversation this past year.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Jill O’DonnellTormey, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs for CRI and ask her about the future of oncology research and the important role research plays across the oncology ecosystem – from physicians, advocates, patients and the company’s invested in this area.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities facing oncology research today? 

Advances in technology, as well as exponential growth in our fundamental understanding of human biology and cancer biology, have helped to accelerate research and discovery, enabling scientists to do much more, more quickly, than ever before. This has produced significant leaps in cancer treatment, particularly in the area of immunotherapy or immuno-oncology, and has initiated a shift toward personalized medicine based on individual patient profiles. But as the field achieves greater magnitudes of complexity and sophistication, the challenges increase. Scientists must wrestle with the bounty of opportunity, developing keen tools to help them prioritize research directions, so that from the near infinite number of possible therapeutic strategies that are emerging today, we pursue the ones that are most likely to produce the greatest benefit for cancer patients.

What role does the broader oncology community play in supporting cancer research?

Physicians, patients, advocates, and media understand the importance of research, particularly clinical research. Physicians who are treating patients understand that they’re able to do so thanks to advances made possible through research. And those who are conducting clinical trials are themselves integral to the research process. Patients, especially those whose cancers are unlikely to respond to standard treatments, look to research in hope that something new and untried might benefit them. And, of course, patients are essential to carrying out clinical research. Advocates help in many ways, such as encouraging their communities to seek out and participate in clinical trials, shaping broader research agendas to help meet unmet needs, and effecting policy changes to facilitate patient access to promising treatments. The media also play an important role, educating the public about advances in research, as well as the challenges involved in changing the cancer treatment paradigm.

What is one of the most successful collaborations you have seen in oncology research? 

Collaboration is a cornerstone of the Cancer Research Institute’s strategy to make immunotherapy an effective treatment option for all cancer patients. Our multi-year partnership with Stand Up To Cancer to co-fund the CRI-SU2C Cancer Immunology Translational Research Dream Team is one example of how CRI leverages its expertise in cancer immunotherapy and its fundraising power to speed the translation of laboratory discovery into novel cancer therapies and diagnostic tools. SU2C’s Dream Team model has demonstrated its power to bring diverse, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional researchers and supportive roles together and align them along a shared research mission. Our Dream Team united two of the most promising areas of cancer immunotherapy research today: checkpoint blockade and cellular therapy. Experts in these areas are working together to rapidly develop new treatments that harness not only the strengths of each therapeutic approach individually, but also the synergistic effects that can be produced through smart combination strategies. SU2C has applied this Dream Team model across different tumor types and patient demographic categories, and has done so in collaboration with many nonprofit partners. It’s a model that is to be commended.

What would you like to see media who follow oncology reporting on in cancer research?

The media could play a more direct role in advancing cancer research by featuring the nonprofit organizations that are making possible this research and the cancer treatment advances that result. Immunotherapy is one recent example, and one that is of course central to the Cancer Research Institute’s mission. Here we have a field of research that has garnered significant interest and enthusiasm thanks to some dramatic successes seen in treating patients. But, this is only the beginning, and a tremendous amount of research needs to be done if we are ever to realize the full potential of immunotherapy in more and eventually all types of cancer. Public support is the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations like CRI, and most of these organizations can’t afford expensive PR campaigns. Media are in a unique position to raise public awareness of the role of nonprofits and, hopefully, stimulate new interest in and support for these organizations so that they can continue carrying out their lifesaving work. Including the nonprofits in the story isn’t just good journalism; it’s also good corporate citizenship.

How will the future of cancer research help us better define the value a treatment or treatments can bring to patients? 

Value is a complex topic, especially when talking about patients’ lives. What’s the worth of an extra month, an extra year, an extra five years of life, or a complete cure that a treatment might give you? What’s the quality of life a patient will have during and after treatment, and how do you quantify the value of that? That’s an important topic of conversation and one that we believe needs to discussed among all the stakeholders: patients, physicians, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and patient advocacy organizations. The role of cancer research funding organizations like the Cancer Research Institute is to find the treatments in the first place. Our singular focus on funding the best science is the only thing that has enabled us to contribute so significantly to the body of knowledge that has made today’s treatment breakthroughs possible. Value isn’t within the scope of what research organizations do. But it is an issue that they can affect. Through smarter application of technology and knowledge, we can help to minimize the financial risks associated with drug development by creating treatments that convey optimal benefit on patients—that is to say, a return to a normal, long, cancer-free life. That’s the return on investment CRI seeks, and it’s one we can make possible with continued research.

Are you seeing blended interaction from different communities in oncology when it comes to oncology research and what impact has that had on advancing oncology research?

One of the most remarkable developments in oncology community interaction has been—at least for those who have been in academic research over the past several decades—the willingness that academic and industry entities now have to work together more closely. It’s a willingness borne of necessity, which itself springs from the increasingly complex and nuanced drug discovery and development landscape. Nonprofit organizations have found a new role in brokering relationships between academic and industry agents. CRI’s Clinical Accelerator is a perfect example of this. It harnesses the power of industry and academia to drive innovative clinical research that seeks to answer the most pressing scientific questions, while also delivering the most promising treatments to cancer patients. Speaking of patients, they and their advocates, have become much more proactive in inserting themselves into the clinical research process. The emergence of patient-centered outcomes research, which includes patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders in the process of planning clinical trials, is testament to the increasingly influential role the patient community plays in clinical research.

What’s next in cancer research?

There are many avenues of cancer research, but since my view skews to immunotherapy, I can share some thoughts on that. Much has been made (and deservedly so) of the remarkable clinical responses immunotherapy has produced in some patients. The question before us now is a simple one: why does this patient respond, but that one doesn’t, and what is different about them? To answer this, we will need to analyze tumor and blood samples to determine the biological mechanisms that influence patient response. This is already done in some medical research facilities, but it needs to be done everywhere. Tremendous hurdles stand in the way, but they aren’t insurmountable. Optimizing accuracy of assays that measure important biological variables associated with cancer treatment and patient response is one key hurdle that we must overcome. But even that is a small hurdle compared to the greater challenge of finding a way to get the scientific community (on both the academic as well as industry side) to embrace the power of Big Data and its potential to uncover untold new insights into the immunological control and cure of all cancers at the personalized level. Big Data only works when there’s data to be mined. Getting access to that data, especially data controlled by pharmaceutical companies, will require us to develop new incentives for data sharing. It’s an uphill climb, but it’s attainable, as long as we all remember the reason we’re doing this: to save more lives through the development of more effective cancer treatments.

Download The Social Oncology Project 2016 here.


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

I’m excited to share that W2O has partnered with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) with the first–of-its-kind fellowship targeting ethnic minorities pursuing careers in healthcare communications. It’s a $50,000 three- year commitment which will fund the Future Leaders in Healthcare Fellowship Program, placing 2 fellows per year in a 10 –week paid fellowship in one of the following offices: San Francisco, New York, Austin, Boston or Minneapolis.

W2O_TLFPartnership_1024x512

More than ever, we need to diversify our workforce and continue to help you, our clients, increase diversity in your communications functions. This is a win – win for everyone. It gives men and women something to aspire to and allows a venue for stellar, diverse talent.

When I started this company in 2001, it was grounded in healthcare PR, and the reason I’ve been in healthcare communications for so long is because it fuses two of my passions – communications and health. Now that W2O group has expanded into additional verticals (Tech, Consumer, Auto, Entertainment), I think it’s important to continue to leave a positive impact and I think this partnership is the perfect venue for that.

View this interview with Kim L. Hunter, The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) Chairman & CEO, Dr. Rochelle Ford, a professor in Syracuse University’s School of Public Communications, and myself for additional insight.

I’m proud to partner with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF). We’re going into our 15th year in business and I couldn’t think of a better time to team up with an organization like TLF which aligns with our principals of excellence and progress within the marketing and communications industry.

View the press release here for more details.

All the best, 
Jim

Professional service firms, specifically those in marketing, PR, communications, consulting and digital, are finding it critical to recalibrate their value proposition in today’s social and digital reality.

Why?

Simply put, the lines are now all blurred.  The swim lanes no longer distinct.  The delineation of work and expertise between outside counsel and internal management not as clear.

This self-awareness moment for CEOs of such firms is causing a very important question to be raised.  One that strikes at the heart of a firm’s efficacy.  One that must be answered by everyone in the organization.

So, what is it that we do exactly?

At W2O Group, a network of complementary, progressive and multi-faceted digital, marketing, and communications counseling firms, of which I founded and now serve as Chairman and CEO, we are right in the middle of this new world and actively answering this important question.

The following is a brief overview of the discussion we are having internally:

“What is it that we do?”

Well, some may say we are an integrated communications or PR firm.  Others a creative or advertising shop.  Still others a social and digital agency. Possibly an analytics and insights organization.

Guess what?  You’re all right!

And you’re all wrong.

It’s certainly true that we as a firm provide all of these services and capabilities.  But at the end of the day our real value lies in something much bigger.  Something much more profound.

As the CEO of one our clients said recently, our value is to help organizations “maintain relevance in a distracted world.”

Think about it.  Living and working in a content rich, influence-oriented, attention deficit world where consumers snack on information and form knee-jerk opinions while employees turn off the volume better to watch what leaders do than listen to what they say, is taking a toll on organizational and brand relevance.

This is what keeps CEOs up at night and Boards from enjoying their weekends.  It is also what keeps W2O Group a central and important part of the marketing and communications mix for our clients.

What does it take to remain relevant today?

Here’s a start:

1)      Meaningful Purpose – Is what you do important and meaningful to the audiences you care about and the world in general?

2)      Adaptable Culture – Are your employees and your systems agile and empathetic to the environment?

3)      Nuanced Comprehension of Customers, Stakeholders – Are you incorporating data and insight into your thinking and programming to ensure precision?

4)      Personal Stories –  Do you communicate in a manner that drives interest and conversation that aids learning?    

So, the question is simply this:  How are you making our clients relevant in a distracted world?

Think about it.

I am…!

(Note:  Engaging in such a provocative discussion with staff is producing some incredible thinking and ideas.  Ultimately, clients determine value and bringing the discussion inside raises the bar on performance while solidifying efficacy)

Jim

Also posted on LinkedIn

Annalise_Coady_CMYKThis is a full manuscript of the opening keynote at our 2nd Annual PreCommerce Summit in London, 2015.

Thank you all very much for coming. I hope that on the way in, you had a chance to look at the art we have up, which owes a great debt to the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, who blew minds back in the 1920s with a painting of a pipe and the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”: this is not a pipe.

Magritte was making a statement about art and about reality, and how the two shouldn’t be confused. A painting of a pipe is not a pipe. It’s a representation. It’s only shorthand for something real.

It’s fun to imagine what Magritte might have thought if he was born a century later and was coming of age during the digital revolution we’re living through. I like to think he would have come up with concepts like the ones we have on display.

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We’re one step further into the surreal. The art of photography used to require hours in the darkroom, film and artist both marinating in noxious chemicals to modify an image to bring out this color or that detail. Now, we tap our phone to capture an image, tap again to add a filter, tap again to send it to the gallery that is Instagram. Is that art? I’d like to know what Magritte thinks.

And what of love? Does old-fashioned courtship have an analogue in swiping right on Tinder? Clearly there is an overlap between love in the Jane Austen sense and love in the Tinder sense, but app-based hookups? Ceci n’est pas l’amour.

The list goes on and on. AirBnB isn’t a quite a hotel company. Uber isn’t quite a cab company. Buzzfeed isn’t quite a news company. N’est pas. N’est pas. N’est pas.

Many of you who are younger never knew how perilous the telephone was. Back when communication was carried by wires, talking, especially with those in other countries was exorbitantly expensive and difficult to arrange. I spent time abroad with my family as a child, and the telephone calls back to the UK had to be booked a week in advance, and still might not necessarily go through. Connectivity was a luxury and precious.

Flash forward to my life as a young professional, when I was living abroad. But rather than paying pounds-per-minute, I was talking using Skype, broadcasting not only my voice but my image across thousands of miles. For free. Is Skype a 21st century telephone? Almost, but not quite. N’est pas.

The point of all of this is that we’re limited in how we think about digital because we don’t have the language yet to describe the new world. Like Magritte, the best we can come up with is shorthand, using old words and concepts that almost, but not quite, describe reality. Shorthand for something real.

This can be a liability, because it hides complexity and often hides the darker side of technology. Those who took the easy route and assumed Uber is just a next-generation taxi company probably failed to see the lawsuits coming. There is now, particularly in the United States, mounting pressure to define the status of Uber drivers as something other than free agents with cars. What, exactly, is their labour status? It’s a question worth billions.

What’s clear is that the digital tide is not receding and will not recede. There are more active mobile connections now than there are people in the world. The average consumer engages with 18.2 pieces of online content before making a decision, which is both amazing and potentially paralyzing.

And HR Zone says three quarters of employees have seen their role or career change as a result of technology in the last 12 months. Let me repeat that: three out of every four people have had their job changed by technology IN THE LAST YEAR. It is a wonder we feel off balance with reality constantly shifting.

Please do not misunderstand me. The digital revolution has made us smarter and more productive, and it has connected us in ways that are nothing short of extraordinary. But handling, profiting and thriving in this environment requires careful thought and precise language, so we can tell the pipes from the paintings of the pipes, so to speak.

And that’s part of the reason that I’m so excited to have such an incredible range of presenters today. All are individuals who are grappling not only with change, but ways to ensure that we understand technology so we can minimize risks and maximize gains.

Our afternoon is split into 3 sections, and we’re going to start with the good news and look at how digital has influenced the wellbeing of society from a handful of different angles, including the ways we can use new tools to improve human health and accelerate aid efforts to the world’s most vulnerable. To help us wrap our heads around that, we’ll invite to the stage:

  • Dina Rey – Head of Digital Group at Roche,
  • Anna Gruebler – Data Scientist and Software Engineer at Altviz,
  • Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer
  • Anita Yuen, Global Head of Digital Fundraising at UNICEF.

For the second part of this afternoon, we’ll look at how technology companies are evolving in this digital age. Or is it a matter of revolutionising. Our speakers will be:

  • Steven Overman – CMO at Eastman Kodak.
  • Kester Ford – Director of Product Marketing at Datasift.
  • Simon Shipley – Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel.

And post our break:

  • A former CIA Analyst and the star of Channel 4’s show Hunted, Cynthia Storer,
  • VP and Global Head of Corporate Communications at Tata Consultancy services Pradipta Bagchi,
  • And our own President Bob Pearson will summarize how technology is impacting the way we live, work, and create in this digital world.

We’re also thrilled to have here with us Lord Chadlington and Steve Milton, who will participate in the programme along with my colleagues Colin, James and Gary.


I think the conversations have truly shown we are in the middle of the new industrial revolution and we need to remain fluid and open to new ideas and opportunities whilst yet being mindful and aware of the true impact on our lives, organisations and communities that digital technology can bring. We are still human and digital technology will not be the only factor in our future. Human nature prevails. La nature humaine est  prédominante.

Thank you to all our speakers as well as my wonderful colleagues for their fantastic moderation. I want to thank the W2O Team behind the event, you know who you are. And I would like to thank you all here today in London’s living room as well as those who joined us via live stream for your enthusiasm and participation. I am looking forward to connecting with you at the reception or in the digital world. Remember this is not a pipe!

We are living in a time where we are ‘always on’ with multiple devices providing us with information but also distracting us and exhausting our time. Technology has become a natural part of our daily life, where having different multiple online personas for work, life, and play is common. It has also become a source of angst.

With an influx of new information and online digital platforms almost daily, the digital landscape is evolving and consumers are now more empowered than ever. Brands can no longer fully control their narrative and need to find and understand the people who are most relevant to their future determining how they consume and share information as well as how they listen to each other as individuals.

This rapidly changing world can sometimes feel both like a massive headache and an incredible opportunity for marketers and communicators. C-suite leaders must be able to adapt to these changes if their organizations are to survive. Staying nimble and being able to predict how the industry will evolve before it happens is all part of the job. What we see from working with our clients and helping them stay one step ahead of competition is that regardless of which industry you are in or who your audience is, we are all facing similar challenges when it comes to digitalization. Being so imbedded in our client businesses is what allows us to build the community where innovators and leaders can come together and share their best practices and learnings.

Breaking away from your everyday routine and meeting those who are walking in the same shoes as you, is a proven method to generate new ideas or new solutions. Following on the success of last year’s Social Intelligence Summit we are excited to host our second annual thought leadership event – PreCommerce Summit London 2015.

The event, coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, will bring together experts from across industries to discuss how we work, live and create in the digital world. We will be considering the impact and opportunities of the mobile generation and will provide perspectives and host panel discussions with key leaders, such as:

I’m hopeful you are able to attend this important forum. Don’t miss the last chance to register to attend the summit on the 14th of September in London via livestream or in person!

More information on the event and the speakers can be found here www.w2oevents.com.

Navigating the future takes more than just educated guesswork. It combines knowledge, adaptability and a willingness to garner new inputs from new sources.

The W2O Group Pre-Commerce London Summit is your personal GPS to succeeding in the future!

We’re honored to be included in the 2015 PR Week Global Power book list, which represents a distinguished group of leaders in the digital marketing and communications industry.  The list made us take a step back to examine what we’re doing to stay ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape. The answer? Continuing to innovate and act as students of the industry, with a focus aimed a mile down the road. Here and below are some emerging trends that we think are reshaping the industry.

  1. We are unlocking the concept of Owned Media. If you create the content, you own it. Location is no longer a determining factor. This concept is practiced with our content capsules, which serve as “digital content libraries” and a content syndication tool. Our clients are able to deliver content in the form of videos, images and links in one package, and track the engagement rates. This “mini site” allows for them to own the content yet share it across social channels.
  2. What you “own” should align with what people “want” when they want it. This will only increase in importance, so our first impression matters more than ever. As a result, we are shifting from responsive design, which is old school, to responsive experience.  We need to provide the right content the first time to the customer visiting our client’s site, based on what we know about them pre-visit.
  3. Create and track your core audience to redefine how we listen, learn and act. Any discrete set of people can be identified and indexed which then informs us of their behavioral patterns. This parallels our analytics practice- we’re able to extract accurate, actionable insights from big data sets which is key to delivering the “right content” to our audience. Once we know patterns, we can figure out habits for a market.
  4. Decide “who” should tell your brand’s story. Influencer relationship management is more important than a traditional CRM to shape markets. You could have two million customers in a CRM database, but does this matter? What we are finding is that understanding who drives your audience (the 1% and the 9% of the 1,9,90 model) is the key to influencer relationship management.  Volume isn’t the answer to gain the right reach.  Precision of who you reach leads to the right volume/penetration of the market.  A very simple and profound change in how we market is happening.
  5. Small data (or “forensic analytics”) leads to smart filters. Smart filters leads to the right insights. If you’re able to apply the right filters onto digital conversations by brand or topic, you will uncover accurate, actionable insights for your brand.
  6. Your own earned media network will drive your market. Brands should think of themselves as media outlets with that level of power.
  7. Data-driven organizations will require a new insights operating system to be shared between analysts and client teams. The future is one of collaboration. More than ever, organizations that work in silos will no longer be able to deliver due to the nature of how data shapes decisions in real-time. Our data must be able to “talk” within data sets to tell us when we need to focus on certain influencers or topics or keywords.
  8. It’s time to become experts in “bad media”. More than ever, online security is an issue for brands and marketers. We spend all of our time on “good media” to promote our brand. However, at the same time, spam, malware, bots, fake reviews, and black hat search are also reaching the same customers.  When we think of improving the customer experience and protecting our brands, we have to become experts in bad media as well.
  9. We combine the best of research and social analytics to become more predictive. Who you follow to gain information matters. For example, if you are following the right influencers, you can see how their language changes 30-60 days before it changes in the mainstream.  That’s pretty valuable.
  10. Social Graphics will lead to new forms of media planning and research.  Social graphics is part of a larger concept we call “audience architecture”. This relates to how we identify and then listen to the right audience to understand what content we share, what keywords we use and what time of day we share content by channel.  If we are tracking the right audience online, they will teach us what to do. The clues to success are right in front of us.

Check out Bob’s previous blog post for additional global insights, specifically around the innovative Chinese market.

All the best,

Jim Weiss and Bob Pearson

 

W2O Group, an independent global network of leading marketing communications firms, today reported another year of growth and progress with a 10 percent increase in revenue to nearly $83 million in 2014 from $75 million in 2013. W2O Group companies, comprising WCG, Twist and Brewlife, now employ more than 425 people in 10 U.S. offices and a growing London office and EMEA presence.

W2O Group Pragmatic Disruption Ad copyThe company also announced key senior management promotions designed to enhance client service and delivery, foster continued innovation of software-enabled services grounded in state-of-the-art analytics and insights, and position W2O for future growth and evolution internationally. Exemplifying this evolution, the firm’s digital health ecosystem and insights platform, MDigitalLife, stores more than 500,000 unique digital footprints of the world’s doctors, patients and health systems. This resource is used by numerous global clients, including nearly 70% of the world’s top pharma firms.

“2014 was a purposeful year of well-managed, profitable growth that will enable us to further diversify and innovate with our clients on a more global scale,” said W2O Group Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss. “We focused on getting the right systems in place and people in the right positions to ensure that as we expand into new regions and industry sectors, our teams are optimized to deliver flawlessly for our clients and that our infrastructure is aligned to support international growth. The moves we have already announced in 2015, including the acquisitions of ARC2 and VinTank and the hiring of Dorinda Marticorena to lead our Entertainment practice demonstrate how we are continuously evolving the firm to partner with clients in the most productive way possible. We will do all of this while staying true to our foundational #GoAhead #MakeItHappen culture that values and respects quality results and achievement, intelligence, independence, curiosity, courage and a #ChooseHappiness mindset.”

Key management promotions include the following:

Bob Pearson, President of W2O, will now also serve as Chief Innovation Officer to accelerate the firm’s software and technology offerings and facilitate and incubate new practices, offices and game-changing talent.

Jennifer Gottlieb, formerly President of Twist, which has more than doubled in size in the last three years, will become Chief Operating Officer and Head of Client Service for W2O Group and will run its three integrated marketing and communications firms.

Annalise Coady, who has run W2O’s London office and EMEA region, will become President of Twist, expanding the firm’s global footprint to accelerate and facilitate international expansion.

Aaron Strout, who has led the exponential growth of the Technology practice in the last few years, has been promoted to President of WCG. He is moving from Austin to the company’s Silicon Valley office to further focus and grow this area of expertise.

Carolyn Wang, who has been with the firm for over a decade, overseeing investor relations and corporate communications capabilities for life sciences and digital health clients, has been promoted to President of BrewLife to grow that firm in much the same way Jennifer Gottlieb led the growth of Twist.

Paul Dyer, who pioneered the firm’s social media, influencer analytics and digital capabilities, will become President of the firm’s centralized, yet-to-be renamed Analytics and Insights company and shared SaaS capability, which will serve W2O clients as well as its own client base. Seth Duncan, who has been integrally involved in creating the firm’s well-respected, industry-leading Analytics and Insights offering, has been promoted to Managing Director. He will work closely with Paul Dyer to enhance the current offering and develop a differentiated market research and influencer audience targeting sciences business.

Paulo Simas, formerly President of BrewLife, and Gary Grates, formerly head of W2O’s Global Change and Corporate Reputation practice, will now lead and grow a Global Business Design practice. That new practice will comprise those existing capabilities and expand beyond them to bring a differentiated branding and reputation offering to clients that will leverage the firms’ collective integrated analytics, insights, creative, digital technology and strategic media planning capabilities.

Mike Hartman, Chief Creative Officer of W2O Group, will expand the remit of that shared service to include strategic account planning and digital agency services such as customer user experience, e-commerce and social CRM planning and execution. He will also enhance the firm’s media and engagement and entertainment offerings with agile content development through W2O Group Films.

“Bob Pearson and Jenn Gottlieb will work together with this amazing group of people, who are stepping up into new roles and responsibilities, and their capable teams to deliver services, software and solutions that will exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Weiss. “We are expanding our healthcare offering, building technology into a practice as important to our future as healthcare, and developing our capabilities to create unique advantages for any brand in any industry. I have never been more excited about our future than I am today, and remain committed to making W2O Group the very best it can be for our clients and our people.”

Click here to view the press release.

When considering my next professional move, I did something fairly common in a search process – I took some time to identify in detail what somewhere between the “ideal” to “acceptable”  job would look like, feel like, and have to include.

I have been fortunate to work on some of the greatest brands and with some terribly talented professionals in the marketing, creative, publicity, operations, finance and legal spaces at the world’s leading consumer product and entertainment companies.  Sure, I wanted to continue to build great brands with great colleagues – that’s not unusual for a brand manager.  That’s “acceptable.” But the buzz words I began to think about and to say when  I discussed new opportunities that were “ideal” started to repeat themselves:  elegant disruptor, visionary and inspiring leadership, experienced yet energetic, creative and can-do people, lots of growth domestically and abroad.

Enter the W2O Group.  Constructive disruption was certainly a well-used term in the business press about a year ago.  How do you keep the business strategies and tactics that are still successful, throw away the tried-and-tested but now irrelevant noise, and be brave and open to radically new innovation be that new staff, agencies and partners, or go-to-business practices?  Bottom line, from my experience, it’s tough to constructively disrupt at a mid- to large organization or at a minimum, do it quickly.

W2O’s founder and chairman, Jim Weiss, uses the term pragmatic disruption or “entrepreneurs in a state of “do” blowing up models one at a time.”  Now this makes a lot of sense to me because it’s not easy for any established, entrenched company managing heritage brands to quickly change their culture, or go-to-market tactics, or their org chart even with the best of intentions.  I think that a consulting firm that can deliver products and services that allow their clients to be pragmatic disruptors in an array of sectors is a firm that deserves to be positioned not only as pragmatic but as “elegant.”  Why? Because W2O’s client solutions must be both ingenious and pleasingly simple if they are to work, to be implemented quickly, and measured solidly. In other words, the W2O disruption needs to be elegant as well as pragmatic.  At W2O, we are fortunate to have a visionary and visible leader, blue-chip talent at all levels and with backgrounds from numerous sectors, incredibly innovative marketing and communications products and services in the influencer/social, media planning, corporate culture, and social analytics spaces.   And W2O’s significant growth over the last several years indicates that our clients agree that we and they are on the right track.

I am looking forward to building business  relationships, both with the superb W2O team and its clients,  that will last my entire career – that’s the only kind of relationship I know how to build.  I am also excited about using W2O’s outstanding analytics to develop fresh marketing strategies and messaging for outstanding brand-building, particularly in the area of multi-cultural campaigns. The definition of a  strong brand has evolved from a mere compelling consumer promise with a personality and a visual identity to all of those things plus an extremely close and dynamic relationship with the brand’s consumers, fans, audiences.  It doesn’t matter if the brand is toothpaste, chocolate, or a movie franchise.  I am probably most excited about taking classic brand management/cpg principles from the creative, communication, media, and promotions disciplines, and turning them all on their ear with the innovation that exists within this firm.

I’m really excited to be a part of the W2O family – it’s definitely “ideal.”

Jim Weiss (CEO and Chairman – W2O Group) and Cathy Baron Tamraz (CEO – Businesswire) kicked off this afternoon with a PreCommerce Talk about Business Wire, which is the leading global commercial news wire.

Here is a summary of highlights of their discussion.

Cathy talked about how Business Wire now uses Content Capsules to share visual content along with news.  She talked about the importance of Business Wire’s reputation, much in keeping with the philosophy of their owner, Berkshire Hathaway and, of course Warren Buffet.  It is clear that Cathy treats the news of its clients as a treasured asset to be protected at all costs.  Right on.

The press release, by the way, is now 101 years old, according to Cathy.  Jim asked if the news release is still as important as it has been in the past.  Cathy gave the example that Apple utilized Business Wire to introduce its new watch.  Great way to answer the question succintly.

Jim discussed how W2O is partnering with Business Wire via NextWorks, led by Tim Bahr.  Cathy said that Intel is using the capsule, as well as Xerox, Cigna and more.  The key is that people are staying on the site for more than five minutes on average, which is far more important than counting clicks.  This portable website allows people to consume content anywhere, anytime and get the full story without having to travel to other locations.

In the Q&A, Cathy was asked “what about small companies who no one knows…what do they do?”  Cathy said you should not make the assumption that no one is watching….a release can be a great idea to get the word out for small businesses.  In fact, Business Wire built its business serving small companies that have grown up over the years, such as HP.  Jim added in that you can also identify the right influencers and keywords, so you help people find your story, which is important for any size company.  So if you are building a company out of your garage, Business Wire is an important part of your arsenal.

Jim ended with discussion of the concept of Storytizing…..and emphasized it is really about what others say about you, not what you say alone.  This speaks to the 1 and the 9 of the 1,9,90 model.  Empowering our audiences to tell our story is always the most powerful way to go.  Business Wire gets the word out….and great stories take it from there.  The fundamentals remain clear and simple.  The hard part is creating compelling content.  That’s on all of us.

Best, Bob

For more information on our SXW2O events and our speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com

Jim Wins In2

Back in October our CEO and Chairman, Jim Weiss, was awarded Innovator of the Year by The Holmes Report. As stated in the 2014 Innovator 25 post announcement by Aarti Shah of The Holmes Report, “We launched the In2 Innovator 25 in 2013 to celebrate those who have contributed great work or ideas that have pushed our industry forward. The 2014 Innovator 25 now takes another glimpse at our industry’s future, shining the light on those individuals who are shaping what influence and engagement will look like tomorrow.” Our fearless CEO has done just that.

Jim has been relentless in pushing our industry forward by hiring the best in the business, and transforming the agency from a strictly healthcare PR and IR firm to an integrated firm grounded in marketing and communications across health, tech and consumer, underpinning these offerings with analytics and software. Most impressively, Jim has done this without taking in any outside money, working on client (and new) business and maintaining one P&L even after splitting the firm into separate companies.

Jim’s passion for the business shows through not only his work, but also through the way he interacts and cares for his employees.  He is always encouraging and enabling people to maintain their personal brands at the firm whether it is through writing books, blogging on our company blog, teaching at schools or internally, or speaking at events. He even offers employees a  five week sabbatical program after 5 years of service (I can’t wait to take mine next year)!

For anyone that saw our recent announcement about W2O Group’s acquisition of boutique (and award winning) communications and media agency, ARC2, understands that Jim has an uncanny ability to spot, support and partner with fellow entrepreneurs. To that end, three of W2O Group’s clients — Becky Brown of Intel, Andrew Bowins of Mastercard and Mark Stouse (formerly) of BMC have all won this same award. Birds of a feather!

If that wasn’t enough, Jim has also partnered with leaders like Bob Pearson and Gary Grates to launch the W2O/Newhouse Center for Social Commerce (funded by Jim and his wife, Audra), which is the best and largest communications school in the country.

Congratulations again, Jim! This award is well-deserved.

p.s. The “IT Came from Syracuse visual was created by our Chief Creative Officer, Mike Hartman as an homage to Jim’s legacy. This cover was on the back program of the In2 Summit’s program.

In his book Powers of Two,” Joshua Wolf Shenk argues that the chemistry of creative pairs — of people, of groups — forms the primary basis of innovation. He makes the case that creativity is most commonly the result of two people interacting in a variety of ways: complementary collaboration, mutual inspiration and creative rivalry.

The publication of this book gave us the explanation of why our decade-long professional pairing had continually kept us moving forward together to seek the next interesting way or place to innovate on behalf of our clients. As a duo or creative team, we were more capable of pushing the envelope, challenging the status quo and breaking the mold on healthcare communications than we were on our own. Now it’s time to bring that philosophy to life again and pair our creativity with the innovators at W2O.

A little background:

We met in the communications department at Amgen and subsequently moved on to head the H+K Strategies West Coast Healthcare team.

But while there, we felt the ground shifting. We realized there were new ways to reach the healthcare consumer that involved the entertainment and media world that no one in healthcare was exploiting. Many of these companies and opportunities were in our backyard – Hollywood.

Although we were learning, growing and leading, we felt that we lacked the freedom to explore a new phenomenon — the blurred lines of PR and marketing. We knew we were missing an opportunity to reach audiences vital to the business objectives of our clients.

Therefore, we struck out on our own to form ARC2 Communications & Media. We had many supporters and mentors as we made the transition from employees to entrepreneurs. One of those was Jim Weiss, a name synonymous with bold entrepreneurialism and innovation in healthcare communications. From the beginning, Jim was both a supporter and a mentor. We wanted to be like Jim. In fact, one of ARC2’s first blogs thanked Jim for his amazing advice and friendship.

Our three years at the helm of ARC2 gave us the opportunity to create and execute award-winning leadership programs and take pharma companies into territory previously only leveraged by consumer companies. We will save details of that for another post!

We have stayed in touch with Jim and his leadership team and have watched as they have expanded beyond their roots in healthcare to bring innovation in data-driven insights and content creation to technology, financial and consumer clients. We admire the way W2O continues to evolve and challenge the status quo and to do things differently. Jim and his team are not afraid to experiment and take risks. And that’s why this “Power of Two” has decided that it’s time to exponentially expand on what we’ve created by joining the Power of the W2O Group.

Andrea Rothschild & Christine Cassiano

Poster: Congrats Jim Weiss

We are excited to share the news of W2O Group’s CEO and Chairman, Jim Weiss, winning Innovator of the Year via The Holmes Report! Full disclosure: BrewLife is a proud W2O Group company.

In the first part of my year-end message before Christmas, I shared two important characteristics of an entrepreneur: Perseverance and Perspective. While both are essential to achieving individual and business success, and foundational for what we have accomplished to date and will accomplish together in the future, no factor is more important than Execution.

Over the last four years, our firms’ revenues and headcount have nearly tripled – an incredible achievement. During this time, we expanded into new areas and more fully dimensionalized and diversified our capabilities. This enabled us to offer clients a more complete end-to-end solution set to handle a variety of challenges and opportunities facing their businesses. We created new practices and revenue streams, which opened new career paths for our people and new markets for our services.

In studying companies with similar growth trajectories from a number of industries, one insight came through. Successful companies recognize the need to digest growth! That is, they provide a runway for people, policies, programs, systems and new behaviors to calibrate with existing and new revenue.

It doesn’t mean they stop innovating or growing. Rather, it means they do so within a construct that allows for consistent execution in all phases of the business.

And this is how I see 2014 – the year we focus on flawlessly executing programs and delivering on promises between one another throughout the firm and on those made to our clients and channel partners.

Companies that execute consistently do so when people, individually and collectively, focus on the right details at the right time expecting to create the right results.

In his seminal book on this fundamental tenant – Execution – Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell and Allied Signal, describes Business Execution as “not only the biggest issue facing business today; it is something nobody has explained satisfactorily. It is a discipline of its own. Execution is a specific set of behaviors and techniques that companies need to master in order to have competitive advantage.”

Bossidy’s point about nobody explaining execution satisfactorily is very interesting and worth noting. In 2014, we will be talking about execution a lot from many different angles inside the firm. But we will also be talking about it with clients and prospects. Our differentiated point of view, based on a deepening knowledge of analytics and insight generation, can also be directed at helping clients make execution a critical discipline for their success.

It is my strong belief that flawless execution will make us all better professionals. It will engender confidence and courage and enrich our planning and pacing as a business.

To that end, among other things, we established a new learning and development program – W2O University – in large part to unleash your full business execution potential. We also launched the Client Relationship Leader (CRL) initiative to ensure we deliver the highest level of strategy, quality service and delivery to our clients through an integrated client service matrix team. And we began a concerted effort to strengthen our infrastructure including investing in, installing and training you on new systems, policies and programs in finance, HR, project management and service, as well as resource allocation. All of this is designed to foster more seamless, efficient and profitable business collaboration among offices, geographies, practices and capabilities.

We also will continue to support the W2O Center for Social Commerce at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School — a one-of-a-kind partnership with arguably the world’s leading communications program — to ensure students are better prepared to execute as interns and entry-level talent in today’s and tomorrow’s social and digital business world.

Each new year brings with it an incredible sense of invincibility, of hope and accomplishment – a can do attitude. 2014 is no different.

I’m sincerely grateful to be working with such an awesome group of people. And I’m very much looking forward to making this year one where we digest our growth and execute and at the same time continue innovating and disrupting the status quo!

May you and your family have a healthy, happy 2014!

Now Let’s Go. Ahead. And Execute. Because Vision Without Execution is Hallucination.

14 Posts to Take You Into 2014

A year ago my colleague Aaron Strout did a nice wrap up of the most interesting/appealing posts of 2012 on this blog. As Aaron noted, reviewing which posts resonated over a period of time can be informative to better understanding the interests of customers/employees/followers. By collecting the top performers in one place, I’m hoping to provide you with some relevant content you may have missed during the year. Like last year, you’ll notice some themes here – rankings, how-to’s, and analytics-based posts, in particular, continue to resonate.

In 2013 we’ve seen a marked increase in the frequency and number of colleagues contributing to this blog, which is great. And, with 50+ posts having over 2,000 views each, we had to be more restrictive with this wrap up than in the past. As a result (and with a goal of keeping it to less than 15), this year’s list is ranked based on the number of post views – with a minimum of 3,600 views required to make the cut. Of course, there are a ton of other great posts and I encourage you to go back and read these from Bob Pearson, Jenn Gottlieb and Jim Weiss. (Selfish plug, you might also want to read my post-ASCO blog post.)

This year’s list brings us some familiar faces – like Chuck Hemann and Brian Reid as well as some new comers to Common Sense such as Michael Brito and Michael Westgate.

So here it goes – our top posts from 2013 to take you into the New Year:

And the number 1 post of the year – with over 35,000 views…

#SXSWPickUpLines by Aaron Strout (35,847 views!)

I hope you’ve found this list helpful and that you’re looking forward to more engaging content in 2014!  What do you think? Are there topics you’d like us to cover? Interviews you’d like to see?  If so, please let us know in the comments below.

This year, I’d like to break down my end-of-year message into two parts — one post now just before Christmas and another post as we start the New Year .

This first part is an attempt to put 2013 — another year of amazing growth and change at W2O Group Companies and in the world around us — into perspective, which I’ll try to do here.

As we all experienced, the past 12 months, like the past 12 years, has been an incredible run. New clients, new people, new opportunities, new ventures, new knowledge coupled with more than just a few hiccups, challenges and sidesteps along the way.

It’s why I continue to call us a “start-up,” because we are truly constantly learning and experimenting to get it right. We don’t apologize nor do we look back and make excuses. We just Go.Ahead.

Recently I read a piece about Amazon and the sometimes winding and difficult road it was for founder Jeff Bezos, particularly in its “start-up” days. After its IPO in 1997 and a stock price hitting $107, Amazon and Bezos were thrust in the dot.com implosion in 2000 and 2001. Suddenly, Bezo’s vision of a viable on-line business was called into question.

A young analyst named Ravi Suria began writing negative reports about the company raising the possibility that Amazon would eventually go out of business. Suria based this analysis on how other dot.com’s had performed during this time lumping Amazon into that category and misreading the company’s plans to realign its workforce and shift distribution. Suria’s commentary started to shape media coverage and for a time much of what the company did was characterized in a negative light.

Of course, the company fought back but instead of letting others sap its energy and steal its future, Amazon kept experimenting and in the process kept learning. It translated customer data into rethinking distribution center locations and rethinking pricing; it entered new categories and negotiated better shipping deals; it opened up better relationships with third-party sellers, and it invested in marketing at higher than industry standard rate.

My point: Amazon and Bezos persevered and today dominates — at a recent stock price of $400 — in profound ways challenging almost every industry’s business model.

And so I come full circle to us. We too are challenging the status quo in ourselves and in our industry. Every day we’re here — thinking and doing, questioning and pushing, succeeding and failing fast — is a day we’re learning and ultimately winning together. What we are trying to do here to create authentic impact and transformation is not easy. But nothing truly good comes easy.

It takes tremendous perseverance and perspective.

It’s why I started this firm and why I work so hard with all of you to Become the Best. Because of everything you do and how you all come in here ready to play every day, I’ve never been more resolute or excited about our future.

My next post will provide perspective that is informing our business goals, strategies and focus in 2014. It will be the Year of Execution on Our Vision — during which we will methodically and purposefully integrate our new products, ideas, approaches, offerings, innovations and expertise and deliver them at the highest quality with measurable impact and ROI for our clients.

In the meantime, thanks for another great year of growing, changing, risk-taking and going ahead to pragmatically disrupt the status quo.

I wish you and your loved ones a very happy healthy holiday and look forward to a breakthrough new year.

Tags:

The W2O Health Summit convened talent across our organization to reflect and strategize on how our integrated assets can drive leadership and growth in our health care business. It was packed with insights and thought leadership from our colleagues and special guests, who discussed the current and future state of the industry, the changing digital landscape, best practices, and what’s to come. These past two days gave us a great look at what we have to offer and more importantly, it reminded us of the caliber of people we have at our company.

It’s clear that we are optimistic about the future of our health care business and are looking forward to continuing to integrate our offerings and develop broader internal partnerships to benefit our culture and the work we do for our clients. This is an exciting time for the company, so we are looking forward to giving you recaps of the sessions held over the past couple of days.

 Objectives & Vision (Diane Weiser and Jim Weiss)

Diane and Jim kicked-off the meeting highlighting the key points that allow us to do the best work for our clients, and how we can help them transform in the digital age. It was emphasized that we provide two things for our clients, insights and execution. If we continue to focus on these cornerstones of our business and establish and connect our sub-practices, we can rule-out speculation and help our clients see, think, do and change in real time. This is more important than ever in the evolving digital age, as we have power to educate people trying to access health care through these channels.

 Keynote (Jeff Arnold, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sharecare)

Jeff Arnold joined us to speak about welcoming change and thinking differently in a changing digital health world. Jeff was previously CEO of WebMD. He stressed that our success will rely on coming to market with thought leadership to get people to think in a different way. If we take risks, maintain discipline in the perspectives we choose and believe in our partners and clients we will unlock opportunity. When approaching these opportunities we have to ask how DATA + KNOWLEDGE = ENGAGEMENT based on the needs of our clients.

We are amidst a change in the way consumers interact with their health. With so many trends pushing for consumer interest in personal health, we will be seeing more physician engagement due to increasing consumer demand. We will have to watch this evolution closely and make sure that we approach our work accordingly.

Global Industry Trends (Colin Foster and Danielle Whitney)

Colin and Danielle spoke about global trends that are shaping pricing, access, and communication and how health is evolving on a global scale. They noted as technology advances and digital platforms become more utilized in emerging markets, the opportunity for information exchange will grow exponentially. Digital social platforms will be key areas for health communications. Mobile strategy should also aim to determine how to leverage technology within divergent markets to ensure point of care engagement

Pharma companies are making massive investments in these markets to address the challenges they are facing. Our clients need our integrated expertise to break into these markets and partner with them in developing conventional and unconventional relationships. Through this partnership we will establish resonance and loyalty.

Stay tuned on Monday for insights on the patient perspective from a special guest from Susan G. Komen and the future of integrated health care delivery from panel members from Proteus, Availity and Evolent Health.

— Your Roving Reporters

To Become the Best, we need the best people to work here.  That has been a cornerstone of our business strategy since the beginning and has only become more important as we scale, diversify and grow.

We are pleased to announce another round of well-deserved promotions of the following people who inspire, lead and set the example every day about what it means to Go.Ahead and get ahead at W2O Group Companies.

In addition to the previously announced promotion of Dave Milhalovic to W2O COO earlier this summer, one special call out is the promotion of Jennifer Gottlieb to President of tWist who has helped so many of our clients, companies and people achieve greatness here.  As we move to a diversified Operating Company focused structure, it was important to recognize Jenn’s contribution and leadership and our expectations for her to grow tWist into the powerhouse company it is well on the way to becoming.

Please join me in congratulating Dave, Jenn and the other 48 people listed herein (by operating company and alphabetically) on their ongoing achievement and continued commitment to quality, culture, our clients and to each other.

WCG

Kathleen Bradley, Account Manager
Brooke Bullen, Senior Account Manager
Kelsey Carroll, Manager
Joanna Cochran, Director
Natalie DeNike, Manager
David Fossas, Director
Emily Friedman, Manager
Tracy Garcia, Account Director
Valeria Kaplan, Manager
Alison Klibanoff, Manager
Alexis Medina, Manager
Greg Matthews, Managing Director
Allie McCormick, Director
Kursten Mitchell, Group Director
Kimberly Muscara, Account Director
Mike Nelson, Group Director
Chelsey Nostro, Account Director
Abigail Rethore, Director
Chantal Roshetar, Account Director
Scott Shadiow, Client Relationship Leader
Brooke Shenkin, Account Director
Adam Silverstein, Account Director
Melissa Solomon, Account Manager
Martina Spranger, Senior Account Manager
Kelley Sternhagen, Manager
Jessica Vanner, Manager
Walt Whitman, Group Creative Director
Stephen Yoon – Manager

tWist

Jamie Bennett, Account Director
Mark Bennett, Group Director
Mindy Bobkin, Senior Account Manager
Toni Haubert, Account Director
Amanda Loder, Senior Account Manager
Jennifer Ma, Director, Project Management
Kaitlyn Murphy, Account Manager
Greg Reilly, Managing Director
Dawn Sciortino, Account Director
Elise Trent, Senior Account Manager

BreWLife

Nicole Foderaro, Group Director
Catherine Kyroulis, Group Director

W2O Digital & Operating Group

Ozzie Cerna, Sr. Staff Accountant
Blaire Clause, Senior Marketing Associate
Matt Hager, Director
Michelle Gunn, Art Director/Sr. Manager
Chris Leedy, Manager
Luis Mendoza, Sr. Staff Accountant
Beatriz Quezada, Assistant Controller
Paul Russell, Managing Director
Amelie Sozzi, Director

Over the past several years, the success of our Health Practice has enabled us to diversify and develop new practices, offerings, clients, companies and leaders.  Despite many changes and our continued evolution, rest assured, Health is central to the future of W2O Group.

It is my long-standing belief that there is nothing more important than one’s health and that the ultimate consumer products and services are those designed to improve it.

Its economic importance in nearly every country in the world is indisputable, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon with Obamacare coming and as the population ages around the world.

Whether it’s Consumer products (Nike Fuel), Technology (Health IT), Government (health exchanges) or a myriad of other industries, strength in Health will be a key differentiator for the firms in W2O Group.

While our business has changed in light of the technology and digital revolution over the past few years, the need for accurate, reliable information has never been greater in the age of reform, cost-consciousness and the “consumerization” of healthcare.  Education, access and advocacy are more critical than ever, and now we have the digital tools and technologies to leverage to reach those in greatest need more effectively and efficiently than ever.  It’s a great time to be in this business.

So many here have played an integral role in building out our Health capability and Practice over the years and we expect many more to join us as we enter this next stage and iteration of the Practice.  We have never had as many tools, talented people and expertise to tap to serve our clients than we do today and our commitment to and passion for this sector of our business remains as deep and robust as ever.

Now is the time to bring it all together and take it to the next level.

As a holding company in the best sense of that phrase, the W2O Group supports, nurtures and powers entrepreneurialism, innovation, talent and growth in WCG, TWist, BreWLife, NextWorks and future companies — from the ground up versus from the top down.

To maintain focus and leadership and to differentiate, compete and grow like we always have across our operating companies in this important area, I am going to be playing a more hands-on leadership role in Health.  Our President, Bob Pearson, will continue to be a major partner and driver in this essential business that is at his core, but we will divide and conquer so I can focus here while he focuses on building our Next Practices, partnerships, technology and innovation — all of which will further enhance our Health businesses, as well as our other mission critical areas of Technology, Consumer and Corporate.

I’m pleased to formally announce that Diane Weiser will also assume a new(ish) role as Leader, W2O Health, and join the W2O ET reporting to me to help accelerate, coordinate and facilitate the operational and growth aspects of our Health capability so that every client, company and practice benefits from it.  As she transitions, she will keep her direct reporting relationships and account assignments, although this is likely to morph in the future (as it always does).

To be clear, Chris Deri still leads WCG, Jenn Gottlieb leads TWist and Paul Laland leads BreWLife, reporting to Bob.  All those firms will have their own health practice/revenue stream leaders and client relationship leaders (CRL’s) reporting to them while they also build out other diversified practices and services.

In the meantime, Diane and I will be partnering (with many others across the long hallway from SF to LA to NY to Austin to London, Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Wilmington, North Carolina and Lincoln, Nebraska) to “connect the dots” to truly Become the Best in Health — driving, supporting and coordinating optimal integration and collaboration; fostering business development that maximizes new business wins and organic growth (which rules); facilitating conflict resolution and coordination, and, above all, optimizing talent and career growth and development so that our Health clients get the best teams, services and innovation that we have to offer each and every time.

Not only does Diane bring a unique historical perspective that will be important as we continue to integrate and scale the Practice, but her passion for and knowledge of the business, strong relationships across our internal and external networks, and track record of experience partnering closely with me are key ingredients for success.

Diane already led an offsite of key leaders over the summer, and she continues to spearhead the Health business development process with colleagues across the firms.  We will also continue to partner with our innovators to adapt current and develop new tools and offerings to keep our Health clients happy and engaged and attract many new and exciting ones.

The continued growth and development of current and new offerings and business focus areas such as Pharma, Device & Diagnostics, Biotechnology, Digital Health, Clinical Trial Recruitment and more will benefit from focused support and leadership at the W2O level.  Diane and I in close collaboration with our operating company (WCG, TWist, BreWLife) and Practice (Analytics, Media & Engagement, Digital, Software) leaders will do just that to Become the Best and establish What’s Next in Health.

Our firms were built on a health-oriented foundation and these moves are meant to ensure our continued leadership and preeminent position in the industry and further improve our ability to develop and optimize all of your career opportunities, hire new talent and identify, create and build thought leadership, value-added strategic partnerships and client engagements.

We have and will continue to set up in-person meetings, office visits and videoconferences to answer your questions and go into much more detail on this in the coming days and weeks. Diane and I are always available to you to answer your questions by e-mail, phone or on The Hallway or W2O Haps.

Together, we will Go.Ahead and improve Health information delivery and access in the digital age.  Everyone is invited to join this movement as it takes shape!


Nearly thirteen years ago, our CEO and chairman, Jim Weiss, opened up a small healthcare PR agency in San Francisco called WeissComm Partners. The employees were a mix of former clients and colleagues and the focus was on helping a few customers better communicate with their key stakeholders. At the time, Jim envisioned that the company would eventually grow to 350 employees or more and would ultimately diversify beyond just PR healthcare. Little did he know how right he would be.

Fast forward to present day and the firm has grown from a half a dozen to over 400 employees across seven different offices including London. The company did $62 million in revenue in 2012 and has grown at a annual compounded rate of 40% over the last several years. In addition to its strong health care base, the firm now enjoys a broad base of clients including Intel, Verizon, Procter & Gamble, Hersheys, Michaels Stores, Kraft, Warner Brothers among many others. The agency’s service offerings have also grown well beyond just PR and now include a heavy focus on analytics, digital, media and engagement and corporate strategy.

In keeping with all these changes, the company’s name has also evolved. In 2009, the name changed from WeissComm Partners to WCG. In 2012, a parent company was created called W2O Group with WCG, Twist Marketing and Brew Life (that latter of which are newly created agencies) sitting underneath. You’ll notice in each case, the “W” or “w” has been carried through to represent our CEO and Chairman’s last name.

Over the last few years, W2O has been fortunate to not only experience rapid growth but has also been the recipient of a number of awards including digital and healthcare agency of the year. We’re also excited that Jim Weiss, the “W” in W2O Group has been named to PRWeek’s 2013 Power 50 list. In celebration of that fact, I’m asking my fellow W2O-ers to share a sentence or two in the comments below on their favorite thing or memory (remember this is a public forum) of Jim Weiss or their time at W2O Group.

Are you with me?

A few times a year, there are certain publications that do annual directories (and sometimes rankings) of key players in the areas our company cares about — marketing, healthcare, technology, PR, etc. Here at W2O Group, those outlets include the likes of AdAge, PRWeek, Holmes Report, O’Dwyers and MM&M among many others. To that end, while we don’t get too hung up on where we are ranked, we do like to take a step back and “smell the roses” as our CEO and Chairman, Jim Weiss mentions in one of his answers below.

In light of the recent MM&M listings where the editors provided a review of their top 100 agencies (we are on page 184), I sat down with Jim and to ask him a few questions about the past, present and future of our firm:

  • [Aaron] Jim – we’re in our 12th year of being in business. Rewinding back to your early days of just a few of you working out of a single office in NYC, did you ever imagine that you’d be leading a nearly 400 person agency with 7 offices in the U.S. and London?
    [Jim] Well, it was actually only a few folks in San Francisco not New York City when we started over a decade ago — New York only came online as an office around 2005 or so in the second bedroom of Hala Mirza’s New York apartment — and no, I actually envisioned 350 people or so.  So, we are now beyond what I had imagined it to be and will now be working off a next 5-year strategic plan which doesn’t look all that different from the one from the prior 5 years. 
  • [Aaron] What is the one thing that gets you up every day in the morning?
    [Jim] My family and the promise of a new day.
  • [Aaron] What’s the one thing that keeps you up at night?
    [Jim] Real Housewives & MadMen episodes. But in all seriousness… it’s usually about feeling I or we are falling behind in some way vs. Going and staying ahead.  I have a great fear of becoming obsolete or irrelevant.
  • [Aaron] From whom do you get your inspiration?
    [Jim] Anyone who gives it their all all the time usually against the odds or expectations.
  • [Aaron] Seeing where W2O Group falls in the rankings or learning that we’ve made it onto the listing of the top 100 agencies in publications like MM&M every year serves as reminder of the progress you’ve made. Do you use these opportunities as motivation?
    [Jim] Actually the listings/rankings are a “stop and smell the roses” opportunity for all of us to step back and see the bigger picture accomplishments versus day to day minutiae and fire drills.  I am fortunate to sit in a place where I get to see the whole organization and the many ways we have gone ahead, especially in the last few years, where the change and accomplishment has accelerated and compounded more rapidly and markedly than ever before.
  • [Aaron] You’ve talked a lot about building the agency of the future that focuses on delivering “next practices” to clients. What’s next in this evolution for the firm?
    [Jim] Combining the power of our data-driven insights with automated marketing in the cloud with our human expertise and talents as the way the world does business changes.  I feel our business purpose going forward is to help corporations, organizations and brands evolve the way they do business and relate to customers and constituents in the modern digital age driven by mobile and online media.  Integration and collaboration are now the keys to our future with the same goal of becoming the best in the industry at what we do.  We will do this by hiring the best people, doing the best work and working with the best clients as well as through education, thought leadership, flawless execution, co-innovation with our clients and taking calculated informed risks where we fail and learn fast.
There you have it. Inspiring words from Jim Weiss, leader of W2O Group (parent of WCG, Twist and Brewlife). Lots more to come over the coming weeks. We hope you’ll join us in our brief “smelling of the roses.”

You can acces PDFs here of our listing on MM&M and Jim’s recent write up on PRWeek’s Power list.