employee exchange

kaitlin-bowen-croppedOne’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things,” said American writer Henry Miller. And starting this week, I’ll be privy to an entirely new way of seeing things from the opposite side of the world in Sydney, Australia as a part of the 2016 GLOBALHealthPR® Professional Exchange Program with our partner, VIVA! Communications.

The exchange program is designed to enhanc
e the connectivity of GHPR agencies by fostering collaboration, sharing best practices and enabling employees to gain insight into the drivers that affect health and science communications in other markets. To me, the program is the perfect combination of global travel and true cultural immersion – really getting the opportunity to see public relations, healthcare and the world through someone else’s eyes.

Airbnb has a clever marketing slogan that says “Don’t Go There. Live There.” The opportunity to live, work and play in Australia for a few weeks with our VIVA! colleagues is a chance to do just that. I’m particularly interested in learning about our similarities and differences in the public relations and healthcare worlds. I’m eager to dive into their account work and find out what it’s like working with Aussie colleagues and Aussie clients. I hope to learn more about challenges and opportunities facing clients in Australia, and how VIVA approaches them. We all work in the world of healthcare, and I’m eager to gain a more global perspective on the issues.

My trip Down Under is actually “part 2” of this year’s exchange – Mark Henderson, the Queensland Branch Manager at VIVA! Communications spent a few weeks in Washington, DC and New York in September. I’m thrilled to reconnect with Mark as well as with Paul Jans, VIVA!’s Managing Director, who I met in São Paulo, Brazil during the 2012 GLOBALHealthPR Annual General Meeting. From what I’ve seen and heard, VIVA! is a really cool agency, doing interesting work and not unlike Spectrum in many ways. I often view our Spectrum team as a family, so I think the VIVA! gang is pretty much our cousins Down Under – and I’m so excited to pay them a visit and compare notes over a few middies of beer!

Kaitlin Bowen is participating in the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program representing exclusive U.S. partner Spectrum. The Program aims to enhance the connectivity of GLOBALHealthPR agencies through collaboration, best practice sharing, and insights into the drivers that affect health and science communications in different markets worldwide, and to build professional relationships with other GLOBALHealthPR personnel around the globe.

Kaitlin is an account director at GHPR U.S. partner Spectrum. To follow her experiences on the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program online, use #GHPRConnects to join the conversation and see all of the 2016 exchange programming.

Andrew, Mark & Drew
Andrew, Mark & Drew

As the week and my GLOBALHealthPR Employee Exchange draw to a close in New York City, I can only describe the experience as amazing.

Every day has brought me brand new, exciting opportunities in which I have been able to uncover “The Spectrum Way” of working, meet with new friends and team members, and continue to build a relationship with my U.S.-based colleagues.

Over the past fortnight, my eyes have been opened up to an entirely new world of healthcare communications. I’ve been privileged to immerse myself in the offices, while also being provided opportunities to share my knowledge of the Australian marketplace as well.

Presenting to Spectrum at its New York offices
Presenting to Spectrum at its New York offices

This week, I was able to present to the New York office about the work VIVA! does in Australia, share case studies, and discuss an upcoming collaborative Asia-Pacific regional disease-awareness campaign, all while taking questions from the audience.

I’ve also been able to take in some of New York City, and was very privileged to meet with Peggy Peck, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of MedPage Today, who provided me a very detailed overview of how the US healthcare system works, and how this differs from the Australian healthcare model.

At the ball game: Tim, Mark, Andrew & Drew
At the ball game:
Tim, Mark, Andrew & Drew

I’ve spent time with many team members, discussing the different practice-areas (Biopharma, Consumer Science, Biotech/Specialty) and cross-functional teams (including digital/creative and finance) that Spectrum team members represent, as well as the GHPR model of communicating globally. And, despite the business of the week, some of the team even took me out to a ballgame at the famed Yankee Stadium.

I’m excited to share all of my experiences with the team when I return home to Australia.

Tomorrow, I am booked for a tour of the NBC Studios, where I hope to learn a little more about the American television and radio media.

More than anything else, I want to express my personal gratitude to everyone in the Washington DC and New York Spectrum offices. You have all made me feel so welcome, and helped to create a one-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am beyond appreciative.

Mark participated in the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program as a representative of the exclusive Australian partner, VIVA! Communications. The program aims to enhance the connectivity of GLOBALHealthPR agencies through collaboration, best practice sharing, and insights into the drivers that affect health and science communications in different markets worldwide, and to build professional relationships with other GLOBALHealthPR personnel around the globe.

About Mark: Mark Henderson is Queensland Branch Manager at GHPR Australia partner, VIVA! Communications. Follow his experiences on the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program online, using the #GHPRConnects hashtag.

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the USA as part of the great GLOBALHealthPR Exchange Program. After learning all about Spectrum’s work and the American health PR market, I can say that although there is an ocean between the US and Portugal and we speak different languages, the work we do is pretty similar.


There are many aspects that both Spectrum and Guess What have in common. The context may differ but the challenges are the same. It’s almost like working at the ER. The pace is fast, the requests are urgent, the demand is constant. We live in an increasingly globalized world that spins at the frenetic pace of social networks where you can share information instantly, so it’s natural that this happens. The clients of both companies are also similar: mostly multinational pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, and consumer-goods brands.


The main differences are essentially social and cultural, or related to market dimensions. The US market is more aggressive, and the work has to be conducted with a level of detail that is not demanded by the Portuguese market. The workday also has very few breaks; in Portugal we are passionate about our lunch break! In Portugal, Facebook is king and lord of all social networks, but in the US the most popular social network is Twitter. In the US, the relationships between PR professionals and journalists are often distant and directed by strict ethical guidelines.


Our American colleagues were very surprised to learn that in Portugal it is relatively normal for journalists and PR professionals to address each other through their Facebook pages, social networks that the Americans keep more personal. And we Portuguese were impressed by the interaction with and monitoring of patient blogs, where patients write about their illnesses and treatments, which is still  uncommon in the Portuguese market.IMG_4762


On the other hand, the characteristics of the Portuguese market allow us to work in a far more “out of the box” way. Indeed, the economic crisis has forced us to be even more original and effective with smaller budgets because “necessity is the mother of invention”.


Given these differences and these similarities, we can say that the GHPR partnership not only makes sense but it is the model of the future for PR and communications. As time goes by, we will have to work more and more with and for other markets, and we will always need the experience of those who work and live in these markets.  Communication lives out of social and cultural contexts that we can only know well when we live within them.


Furthermore, it was a great privilege to be part of the GHPR exchange program. It’s an excellent way of meeting a new professional reality, new people, and a new country. And I’m really grateful to all the Spectrum team in Washington that went far beyond my best expectations to make me feel welcome.


Susana Viana is Senior Communication Consultant at GLOBALHealthPR Portugal Partner, Guess What. Her account is based on an original article that appeared in Portugal’s Meios e Publicidade.

Greetings from Germany!


While normally based at Spectrum in Washington, DC, I’m happy to find myself sitting in the bright, sunny offices of our GLOBALHealthPR partner fischerAppelt. Understanding and leveraging the similarities and differences between communication cultures around the world is critical to global communications success.

[Read more…] about Crossing Oceans to Build Collaboration