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Kristin Cahill, Global CEO, GCI health

Across the healthcare spectrum, the reason why PR and marketing are considered essential lies in the fact that every organization needs a voice to not just reach but make a tangible and measurable impact with patients and other stakeholders. From brand awareness to the launch of a platform for patients, PR companies are the best bet for companies to achieve their objectives.

This edition, 10 Most Trusted PR Agencies in Healthcare, 2021 places the spotlight on agencies that leverage modern technologies and deliver the best of their potential to drive associated healthcare organizations towards success.

One prominent name among such agencies is GCI Health, one of the most highly recognized global integrated healthcare communications agencies in the world. Headquartered in New York, GCI Health creates breakthrough, people-driven programs that drive tangible results for its clients and the people they serve.

In the following interview, Kristin Cahill, the Global CEO, shares with us in brief about the company’s journey since inception and how it has gained a stronghold in the healthcare PR niche.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please brief our audience about GCI Health, its values, and vision.

GCI Health’s vision is to be the best healthcare agency in the world with a mission to recruit and retain the most talented people in integrated communications. We are inspired by People and apply this mantra to our work in healthcare and with our team. We share our clients’ desire to improve the health of all people around the world and work tirelessly to contribute to their ambitious goals.

Our approach to communications is rooted in looking at all stakeholders—patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, policymakers, reporters, and payers—as people with distinct perspectives that shape how they think about health. And we carefully curate a culture that is catalyzed by the belief that people should be as successful in their personal lives as they are in their professional ones.

Tell us how you have set yourself apart from the competition through your expertise in healthcare PR and communication?

GCI Health is 100 percent focused on health, which means we immerse ourselves in the overall healthcare environment, stakeholders, and media trends. We have a rich heritage in scientific storytelling, and pride ourselves on being able to translate complex concepts into meaningful content.

Our People at the Center approach puts individuals at the forefront of our brand communication strategies, helping to demonstrate the human side of healthcare, whenever possible. At the corporate or category level, we work with our clients to showcase their Authenticity in Action, developing bespoke thought leadership platforms that marry their unique areas of expertise and passion with tangible proof points that eschew corporate speak and embrace a more real way of communicating. These mechanisms are combined with a data-driven approach to content dissemination that ensures our clients’ stories are reaching people where they are.

What other services does your company offer, and how are you making an impact in the global healthcare industry?

GCI Health has built an amazing network of healthcare communicators around the world. We pride ourselves on taking a truly integrated approach to global communications, working seamlessly across markets to find synergies, and activating on-the-ground expertise, as needed.

To that end, we have transformed our global public affairs offering to reflect the increasing interconnectedness of today’s government, public health, and advocacy stakeholders. Our efforts are grounded in public health to drive a global agenda for everyone, everywhere, fueled by advocacy to bring communities together and inspire change and solidified through policy to ensure infrastructure is in place for change. We have also globalized our media and content capabilities to reflect the dissolution of boundaries that the last few years have inspired.

Kristin, please brief us about your journey in the healthcare industry.

In college, I was drawn to studies of the brain because it stunned me how little we actually know about this fascinating organ. I considered medical school but decided that healthcare communications would allow me to immerse myself in science while also tapping into my creative side.

I joined GCI in an entry-level position nearly 20 years ago and have had the opportunity to work on some of the most exciting breakthroughs and campaigns in healthcare since then. I love that we are always learning something new and that we get to champion innovation every day. I also appreciate that everyone at GCI Health has a shared passion for healthcare, and I’m thrilled to be able to pay that forward to the next generation of people in our agency.

Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies and platforms in PR and communication has transformed the industry and what more could be expected in the near future?

Despite the significant challenges facing our industry, GCI Health grew 28 percent in 2020 – in large part due to our work in the digital, design and production spaces. These teams were able to adapt quickly to remote content capture and development thanks to technology platforms that have made the virtual world tangible. We have also embraced several new tools that allow us to listen to stakeholders in real time, measure the impact of our work and constantly optimize our approach. This next level of measurement will be essential to the continued growth and credibility of communications in the next decade.

Taking into consideration, the current pandemic, and its impact on global economies, how are you driving your company to sustain operations and ensuring safety of your employees at the same time?

The last year has been unprecedented. It was essential for us early on in the pandemic to make sure our team felt supported and safe. We doubled down on the flexible working style we were already promoting pre-pandemic and provided collaborative virtual solutions to sustain and enhance operations. We instituted new Ways of Working, encouraging people to take breaks throughout the day and week so they did not feel constantly tethered to their desks, gave mental health days, and took a high touch and individualized approach to staff support.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the healthcare PR sector?

Read and listen! I always find inspiration in unexpected places – whether it’s a conversation with a healthcare provider, a brainstorm with our team or a literary classic on the weekend. It’s important to take a step back and pay attention to the world—and people—around you. Given how intertwined healthcare is with life, these things all offer great perspectives.

Where do you envision your organization to be in the long run and what are your future goals?

As we look ahead, our focus is threefold. We want to transform the impact and influence of communications in healthcare through data-driven insights and analytics and digital-forward storytelling. We want to continue to strategically expand our global footprint, ensuring we have a truly integrated approach to media and content. And we want to redefine what it means to have the best culture in the business, championing inclusivity, flexibility, and equity.