By Kaitlin Bowen and Mark Henderson

Recently, partners from around the world gathered to learn, share and connect during the 2017 GLOBALHealthPR® (GHPR) Annual General Meeting, held in Mexico City. One of the unique aspects we discussed in Mexico is the annual GHPR employee exchange program. We recently interviewed the participants of this year’s program to reflect on the highlights:

 As a part of the GLOBALHealthPR (GHPR) exchange program, Mark Henderson from VIVA! Communications in Australia and Kaitlin Bowen from Spectrum in the United States flew halfway around the world to “swap desks” and experience healthcare communications in each other’s home countries.

The exchange program, designed to enhance the connectivity of GHPR agencies, helps foster collaboration among the independent health and science communications network and enables agency employees the opportunity to gain insight into the drivers that affect health and science communications in other markets.

Kaitlin and Mark reflected recently on the major differences between the two countries and what they gained from their GLOBALHealthPR exchange experience.

What is the major difference you saw between the health industries in Australia and the United States?

Mark Henderson – VIVA! Communications, Australia: While in the States, I learned about medicines when I wasn’t even expecting to, as direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements often appeared on television and in magazines – this came as quite a surprise to me. I was enthralled by the advertising, but further to this, the amount of political discussion and conversation in the community around healthcare and medicines. That was intriguing, and I think it’s a good thing.

Living in Australia, we tend to become complacent about our access to free medicines and hospital care (well, free for the most part), and that shrinks the public conversation on healthcare in Australia somewhat. That is, unless one is championing a certain medicinal cause, working in the health industry or battling with a disease that requires difficult to access therapies.

On a slightly different note, I was shocked to see promotion of cigarettes in the U.S. I picked up a magazine at the airport, and was confronted with a discount offer for a new brand of cigarettes. Not just an advertisement, but a discount offer for cigarettes – how can this be allowed?

In Australia, we have so many regulations regarding cigarette advertising in attempts to decrease cancer rates –our laws include plain packaging, locked cabinets and no advertisements for cigarettes. So to see cigarettes advertised in the U.S. was confronting.

Kaitlin Bowen – Spectrum, United States: Due to the restrictions around direct-to-consumer advertising in Australia via the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, healthcare companies and the PR and marketing agencies that support them must be creative to connect with stakeholders in meaningful ways. Empowering advocacy partners and patients is critical.

Due to this tightly regulated health communications environment, VIVA!’s work tends to be highly patient-centric, which is great. Most campaigns include regional or state-specific patient spokespeople who can provide first-hand commentary on what it’s like to live with a certain disease or condition. This, combined with dynamic content and a the knack for media relations creates  comprehensive patient case studies, videos and infographics (both still and animated) that are really easy for the media to reference and extract for use in their stories.

How does the working culture differ between VIVA! & Spectrum?

KB, USA:  Overall, the team is very collaborative and it’s often all hands on deck to do great work for our clients. Even the agency’s Principal is not afraid to jump in and help, lending her expertise and experience to all aspects of client service, including making pitch calls and proofing content.

Additionally, I found Australians to be quite direct with each other – no sugar coating feedback or direction – which helps keep projects moving along efficiently. I think it also helps boost camaraderie within the agency, which can go a long way for maintaining morale among employees and ultimately helps drive a better quality product for clients.

The VIVA! office had a similar vibe to our Spectrum offices with lots of open, collaborative space and cool, scientific imagery around the office.

I view my Spectrum team as family, so I think the VIVA! gang is pretty much our cousins Down Under – the people, culture and energy in the office space were surprisingly similar to our Spectrum team here in the U.S. That’s the great part about the GLOBALHealthPR network – the agencies are so like-minded not only in our office environments, but also in our values and what motivates us to do great work for our clients.   I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to live, work and play in Sydney for a few weeks and form long-lasting friendships with our GLOBALHealthPR partners in Australia.

 MH, AUS: Overall, both Spectrum and VIVA! work in the highly specialised healthcare PR arena, part of which allows us to craft and share the fascinating stories that create buzz and hype around healthcare therapies, medicines, medical research and science.

I was really privileged to meet so many American healthcare PR peers, and was impressed by the different stories and reasons for pursuing healthcare communications. Some of the Spectrum staff have Ph.D.’s and are trained scientists. The knowledge and experience that these experts can lend to the science of health is invaluable, and they are lovely people too!

How will you continue to build relationships across the GLOBALHealthPR network now that you’re back home?

 MH, AUS: I think the amazing thing about the exchange program is that we are visiting and partnering with not just friends, but colleagues. I’m thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to continue to grow and build relationships with all of my healthcare PR peers. It’s something truly unique to GLOBALHealthPR.

I am eager to remain in touch, and to continue working alongside and collaborating with my American counterparts, and friends in the U.S.

KB, USA: In the words of Uncle Ben from Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Because I’ve been given the amazing privilege to participate in the GHPR exchange program, I believe it’s important as partners that we continue to support and build the GLOBALHealthPR network on behalf of each of our agencies.

The beauty of GHPR is that each of us are experts in our local healthcare marketplaces, but we have that global reach and connectivity across the world through each partner agency. What’s really special is that we’re not just professional acquaintances, but friends. I remain connected to my VIVA! colleagues on Facebook and always look forward to hearing the latest client updates and the GHPR Annual General Meeting. In the spirit of the GHPR exchange program, I will continue to work to foster collaboration and best practice sharing across the network.

Kaitlin Bowen is an Account Director at GHPR U.S. partner Spectrum. Mark Henderson is the Queensland Branch Manager at GHPR Australian partner VIVA! Communications. To check out Kaitlin’s and Mark’s experiences from the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program and other GHPR programming, use #GHPRConnects to connect and join the conversation.


Watch this space for updates on our one-of-a-kind program from now through November.

Day 1 of Mark Henderson’s GLOBALHealthPR Exchange at Spectrum, Washington, D.C.

Mark Henderson (centre) joins GHPR team members Andrew Bailey (L) and Drew Wallace (R) at the Spectrum DC office.

Since arriving in Washington, DC as part of the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program, I’ve been privileged to witness a lot of American history, from Capitol Hill (the seat of the United States Congress and legislative branch of the US Federal Government), to The White House (the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the US, also dubbed “The Nation’s Most Famous Address”).

Warmly welcomed by Andrew Bailey, and the Spectrum team at its Washington DC offices today (Monday, September 19, 2016), I’ve been given a tour of the office and met many staff. I’ve also been privy to an orientation from Spectrum’s HR lead, Julian, who documented the company’s 20 year-long history, founded on the idea of “transforming complicated science into compelling stories,” to its dramatic growth in the past four years, which has seen the company double in size to upwards of 60 staff members across three offices (DC, New York and Atlanta), and those who work remotely.

Further to this introduction, I’ve been privileged to participate in several brainstorm sessions, and teleconferences that have offered me an opportunity to begin to understand the way in which business gets done at Spectrum. I’ve been truly impressed by all that I’ve learned since arriving here.

New koalas took up residence in Washington thanks to Mark’s arrival from VIVA in Australia.

I was privileged to speak with Tim Goddard, Senior Vice President of GlOBALHealthPR, who provided me a warm welcome to the company, and outlined many of the different opportunities I will experience in the United States during my two week tenure here. Notably, I will be meeting with each of the four Functional Group Leads for Spectrum, including those representing the BioPharma, BioTech, Consumer Science and Public Affairs divisions, along with a host of other senior staff, such as the business managers who work within each of these groups.
It’s only day one, but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about Spectrum, its rich and vibrant history, and plans for the future, and I very much look forward to what the coming weeks have in store, both Washington DC, and in New York City.

Mark is participating in the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program representing 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. To follow his experiences on the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program online, use #GHPRConnects to join the conversation and follow all of the 2016 exchange programming.



We are very happy to announce that our US Partner and Global hub, Spectrum, has officially opened their new Atlanta office. The new location is in the recently opened Ponce City Market, in the historic Sears and Roebuck building. The SpectrumATL office is strategically positioned in an emerging biotechnology hotspot nearby companies and institutions such as Coca-Cola, the American Cancer Society, Emory University and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new office will be headed by Spectrum Senior Vice President and Partner Amanda Sellers, a Georgia native. The new office opens up many new opportunities, and an entirely new talent market. “We know talented teams draw dynamic clients, and Spectrum is thrilled to be able to tap into this vibrant scientific community,” Sellers said.

Strategic hires, expanded offerings and a commitment to client service have fueled Spectrum’s growth over the past two years, and led to the opening of their New York City office in March.  The Atlanta office will reflect the “One Spectrum” ideology that drives the agency’s culture, bringing together the best in marketing communications talent and expertise regardless of geography to deliver the best thinking for clients.

CVS Health Collage

Jessica Klepac is Director of Design for GLOBALHealthPR US Partner and Chair, Spectrum.

I’m not a smoker, but as a designer I can appreciate brilliant marketing. So I had to grab “The Last Pack” when I was in a CVS pharmacy last weekend.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that as of September 1, you can no longer buy cigarettes at CVS. And in addition to removing cigarettes from its shelves, the company adopted a new name – CVS Health. I read the news and saw the story online, but until I walked into a CVS I did not realize the extent to which the company embraced the “health” part of its new name. CVS quit cigarettes and is trying to help customers quit, too, with a pretty creative campaign.

As soon as I walked into the store I was greeted by signs that read, “Ready To Quit?” and “Let’s Quit Together.” After quickly grabbing the few items I needed, I stood in line and took in the whole store. Everywhere I turned, CVS was sending me a message, letting me know they had my back if I was ready to quit smoking. Again, not a smoker, but it sure did impress me. [Read more…] about This Makes Me Want to Quit Smoking. And I Don’t Even Smoke!

In today’s post, John J. Seng, GLOBALHealthPR Chair and Spectrum Founder & CEO, discusses the recent actions of CVS, the first major US pharmacy retailer to stop selling tobacco products.

cvs health logo
CVS Health

I was happy to read just now that HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell saluted CVS Health today for stamping out cigarette sales as of today, one month earlier than the company pledge of October 1.

Her statement is short enough to reprint here:

We applaud CVS Health for becoming tobacco-free and ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at its 7,700 CVS/pharmacy locations. CVS accomplished their goal one month ahead of their deadline of October 1.

We also commend CVS Health on the launch of their national and personalized smoking cessation program.

CVS Heath’s tobacco free policy is an unprecedented step in the retail industry, and will have an impact in bringing our country closer to achieving a tobacco-free generation, a call to action that we announced in January.

We hope others will follow CVS Health’s lead in this important new step to curtail tobacco use.

“We hope others will follow CVS Health’s lead…” Hmmm, as I read that last sentence, I thought of another major retailer, err, wholesale warehouse concern which still has the chance to follow and do the right thing when it comes to reducing heart disease and cancer in the US: Costco Wholesale. [Read more…] about The New “CVS Health” Gets It

Today’s blog comes to us from Jonathan Wilson, President of GLOBALHealthPR US Partner and Chair, Spectrum.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is rethinking its rules on what kind of information pharma companies can share with physicians regarding off-label use of their products. That’s good news for the practice of medicine.

At the moment, pharma company employees can talk about a drug only in the context of the condition indicated in its FDA-approved label. Anything they say about another, unapproved use of the drug is considered “misbranding” according to federal law, and subjects the company to civil and criminal prosecution. [Read more…] about Scientific Exchange Calls for Some Talk of “Off-Label” Use