I enjoyed participating at the Global PR Summit on Monday for the Independent PR Forum.  Our firm, as you probably know, is part of PROI.

To end the day, I was asked to speak on a panel with Aarti Shah of The Holmes Report as our moderator and fellow panelists Salvador da Cunha of Lift Group, Fraser Hardie of Blue Rubicon and Tom Lindell of Exponent PR.

If you would like to see our panel, here’s a video of our session.

Enjoy, Bob

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Not too long ago, global for an agency meant having dots on a map all over the world.  The more dots, the better.   That was yesterday.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Today, the online world is democratizing how we think, how we create intellectual capital and how we build our firms to make all of this real for our clients.

The meaning of “global” is now more about a firm’s agility and ability to understand how influence, content and channels integrate by language, region and country.  Knowledge of a marketplace is often more important than physical presence.  People in Austin, Texas lead global training sessions in Argentina or Switzerland.  Global knowledge trumps location.

In terms of our business, that is also changing.  In today’s world, issues jump languages and become global in seconds.  Brands that are focused on their global positioning realize that 10 languages reach more than 80 percent of people online.  As a result, if you are positioning a brand, you can reach the majority of the world with 4-5 languages, not 30 like we used to think.

Of course, if you are driving local behavior, expertise on the ground matters.  It always will.

The changes in our global marketplace are leading to opportunities for firms like ours to transform into global partners with our clients.  Our team members speak a variety of languages and more than a few have worked around the world during their careers.  But it is the rapid transformation of our online world that is now unlocking this “hidden talent” in firms like ours.

Top brands centralize strategy at the headquarters level and decentralize execution, so they need people who have worked globally, regardless of location.  It is less about “where” you live and much more about “what” you have learned during your career in all four regions.

Analytics and our ability to scrape public data anywhere in the world is making it “easy” to know what is happening anywhere in the world.  Insights can be evaluated on a global level in ways never done before. New products and services are being created that provide unique advantage to those companies who know how to interpret what is happening by language, country, region and globe.

Since ten languages reach more than 80 percent of people online, most brand positioning platforms can focus on 3-5 languages, rather than 20-30 to reach the majority of the world.  The cost-savings for programs will be intense in the years ahead as we learn how to leverage languages more effectively.

Regional work is becoming more about your “base”.  For us, for example, London is our European “base”.  We have a great team that will continue to build and we’ll probably create a few additional offices in the region with time.  But the days of us feeling compelled to have an office in every country are not there.  It is more likely that we will start to see partnerships emerge between “global firms” like ours and “local or regional expert firms” that provide clients with the best intellectual capital and capabilities available.

The future of our growth globally is exciting, which is why we are pleased to enter the top 30 (as #30) for the top communications firms in the world for the first time.  Ten years ago, we may have seen barriers ahead of us. Today, we see opportunities around the world.  It’s something that our team members who have lived in places like Switzerland and Argentina and who speak languages, ranging from Korean to Spanish, get pretty excited about.

We’ll do our part to redefine what global means for our clients and the world’s top brands.

All the best,

Bob Pearson | Jim Weiss

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I  joined WCG in 2009 as the global practice leader and friends, agency colleagues and clients rolled their eyes at WCG’s lack of global presence (and by “lack of” I mean we had “none”).  Yes, WCG is a strong independent healthcare firm they noted, but 100% US focused were the words I heard.

Well, of course, there was a global capability as WCG had supported clients globally since its inception but the global footprint wasn’t much. Rather than not take the role, it became the reason to take the role: a challenge and opportunity. And thanks to the support of Jim, the broader WCG leadership team and a  fantastic group of people, today, we are humbled to accept the distinction of Global Healthcare Agency of the Year from The Holmes Report – an accolade we are even more honored to receive given the other amazing agencies in the running.

Why have we been so honored? It’s a formula for success that WCG has been engineering for a decade:

forward-looking clients in partnership with WCG

+ talent that is passionate, experienced and curious for the “next”

+ a sense of team spirit + remaining independent and investing in clients and talent

= priceless success

Add to that mix over the past two years:

  • other like-minded independent agencies (some members of P.R.O.I.),
  • individual talents across the globe (with a new gravitas in London of nearly 20 outstanding WCG team members),
  • an integrated approach (having added 50+ analytics, research, social media engagement, content, creative specialists)
  • clients that have grown with WCG for ten years and new global clients that believe
  • a healthcare landscape that pushes us to creatively problem solve
  • an internal and external team that are brave enough to trust in solutions we propose

= WCG Global Health today.

We are forging new ground in partnership and taking to heart the famous quote from Gandhi: We must become the change we want to see.

Today, WCG is delivering the positive future of communications…globally. It is a journey that is just beginning. Watch out world. Can’t wait to see where the next ten years takes us.





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On Thursday 7 July, WCG and The Holmes Report launched a roundtable series.  The focus of our inaugural event was Access (not market access – yes, we believe there is a difference!)

In short – below are some of the key takeaways that left each panelist and audience member with some food for thought…An in-depth analysis and report will be available in a couple weeks and will include exclusive interviews with the panelists, so stay tuned.

 1)       Access goes beyond Market Access, it has evolved

When I hear market access – I immediately think of a specific drug, medicine, treatment, management option, etc.  It is a limiting term in the healthcare world we now live in. During the WCG Access roundtable – panelists hotly debated issues that went beyond market access and the access to treatment. Access has evolved into a multitude of factors  – access to information, treatment, education, services…you get my point.  With this understanding, the term Access naturally lends itself to include each stakeholder relevant to the healthcare debate. These stakeholders, and it should come as no surprise, include the patient, the policymaker, the regulator, the provider and the supplier – Access defines and guides the way in which these stakeholders must work together to provide health and wellbeing and healthcare services and treatment.

2)       Delivering Value will only result from transparent and honest debate between stakeholders in Access

We can all agree that relationships are important in our personal lives; how important are they in our professional lives – just as much, right?  We maintain good relationships through honesty and understanding. Between the hours of 9 and 5, however, those two essential criteria for a healthy relationship are often lost.  We focus on goals that are limited to our perspective and place in the field without recognizing that we are working with 10 other players to reach one ultimate goal – delivering value for patients to promote health and wellbeing.

3)       Reorganization – Its not only a structural transition

In an effort to improve Access, many biopharma organizations are making structural organizational changes. Companies are breaking silos between marketing, health economics, medical and access functions (to name a few) and are promoting integrated working.  We can see similar restructuring from healthcare systems around the world. I suspect that most employees within these functions are measured against an access-related goal (and if they aren’t now, they will be soon).  During the roundtable, it was hotly debated whether this would be enough – and there was consensus that, “No, silo-busting doesn’t translate into integrated working” within an organization nor externally with partner stakeholders.   The shift we need must be rooted in cultural and behavioral change – not an easy task for the healthcare providers nor its suppliers.

4)       Trust and Communications sit at the heart of Access

After two and a half hours of debate and honest discussion at the roundtable, the panelists and audience members came to many conclusions (to be shared in our full-report).  They did all agree, however, that without trust and communication, we cannot successfully improve access to healthcare – we all will fail in achieving the ultimate goal. Healthcare providers and suppliers must find themselves embedded along the entire patient pathway in health and wellbeing and not sit at just one point.  How we do this is not going to be easy as we move further into a world in which economic and financial crashes will be the forces of change – but as long as we work in partnership, we will improve patient access.

Personal note, as communicators we recognize the above isn’t an easy task. We aim to make Access accessible by creating forums and channels in which all the key players in healthcare can come together and relate.

An in-depth analysis of the WCG Access Roundtable is currently underway. We want to make sure the learnings and debate live beyond the walls of a room. If you’re interested in receiving a copy or just further information, please let us know below with comments or email us at

For those Twitter users, a real-time summary from the event can be found by searching #wcgaccessRT.

If you’d like to participate in future events, or just want to share your perspective – don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Through conversation and debate, we go further – so let’s go ahead (together).

For more information on panelists:

Jon Sussex, Deputy Director at the Office of Health Economics

Mike Sobanja, CEO NHS Alliance

Helen Johnson, Helen Johnson Consulting

Elaine Cruikshanks, Acumen Public Affairs

Nigel Breakwell, WCG

Paul Holmes, The Holmes Report (moderator)

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For anyone who’s seen the recent film, The Social Network, there’s no denying that social media and digital tools are changing… have changed… the way that we communicate.  In many ways, the Facebook story is the new American Dream.  Yet, for every Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Foursquare, there are hundreds of other internet startups that were founded with the goal of changing how we communicate digitally.

Ten years ago, when I set out to start a communications agency from my small, mal-furnished apartment, I was not one of those people.  Digital was still a flash in the pan and the bubble had recently burst.  My goal when I founded WCG was to change how companies communicate with their audiences, and to do it at a different kind of agency.

Digital communications today, in particular via social media, are one of the primary ways in which we are achieving that same goal.  That is why I’m both proud and thankful for the incredible digital team and capability we’ve built at WCG.  Most important, though, I’m thankful for the clients who have helped us get there.  Both from the standpoint of partnering  while we have grown and in pushing our team to continually innovate, our clients are the reason that we are recognized today as Digital Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report.

With more than 40% of our account staff now in creative, interactive, or social media, it would be easy to credit this recognition to our digital team.  The reality, though, is that it takes an entire agency to consistently deliver results.  I’m proud of our entire firm’s commitment to changing how we communicate so that we continue to deliver for our clients who have been so supportive in getting us where we are today.

So, from all of us here at WCG…. THANK YOU!

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