FINN Partners: Empowering “BIG HEALTH” Communication

International PRmagazine (China)

Aman Gupta, Managing Partner and Head of Healthcare for Asia Pacific, FINN Partners

Jason Cao, Senior Partner at FINN Partners and Head of Healthcare in Greater China

On July 18, 2022, SPAG, Asia's leading healthcare communications and marketing company, officially joined FINN Partners, a global independent marketing and communications group, further attracting the attention of the public relations industry. The "Healthy China" strategy clearly states that by 2030, the total scale of the health service industry will reach 16 trillion yuan. In this context, how the public relations industry lays out the field of health has gradually become a hot topic in the industry. International PR magazine had the opportunity to invite Aman Gupta, Managing Partner and Head of Healthcare for Asia Pacific, FINN Partners, and Jason Cao, Senior Partner at FINN Partners and Head of Healthcare in Greater China, to share the stories of FINN Partners’ cultivating in the “big health” industry.

Success in “big health” requires professionalism + passion
Based on his early years of experiences in pharmacy and knowledge gained from his master's degree in business marketing, Aman Gupta entered the healthcare field as a natural one, and later set his career direction as in communications. He explained: "This is based on my own pursuit of medical science, and I think it is a very meaningful thing to shape communications among stakeholders in the health sector through powerful storytelling. And to some extent, we’re also helping to make the world a healthier place.”

Aman Gupta's team used to lead an integrated marketing campaign for a global biopharmaceutical company to promote innovative molecular drugs for heart failure. This campaign aimed to build stakeholder awareness of this new disease area and improve their understanding of the difference between heart failure and heart attack. At the same time, the team also planned diversified content and communication channels to actively appeal to the attention of the government, contributing to the great outcome of national medical insurance’s including the new drugs and helping the client and patients to achieve a win-win balance in terms of economic benefits and health.

In his 22 years as a health communicator, Aman Gupta has had the opportunity to work with the world's leading health advocates around many of the world's most impactful topics and events to shape a better world. In recent years, he has put more efforts in scientific communications with regard to COVID-19 and other epidemic diseases.

Unlike Aman Gupta, who came from a healthcare background, Jason's professional background is mainly in the tech industry. He shared: “Technology is a very broad concept, it’s everywhere and can be relevant to every industry and every person.” Interpreting the original intention behind technology, exploring how technology can facilitate the development of various industries and change people's behavior, and using storying skills to tell the tech stories and explain the relationship between technology and people, this is the essence of my career as I’ve been practicing in the PR industry for more than 20 years and I’m still very enthusiastic. ”

“Big health” is undoubtedly extensively tech-related, from basic pharmacology to the cutting-edge new knowledge of various subdivisions of disease treatment, to biological gene cell therapy and other constantly changing new life science technologies, this is an endless field of infinite extension, there are always fresh topics, exciting technology and touching stories for PR practitioners to explore, to tell, and to spread. For Cao Yue, this is what attracts him the most when it comes to “big health”.

Success in “big health” requires in-depth research With more than 20 years in the healthcare sector, Aman Gupta has developed a deep understanding of the “big health” industry in Asia. As was mentioned by him, the global healthcare system has been under great pressure since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also exposed gaps among various public health organizations in terms of disease prevention and response capabilities, and on the other hand stimulated the evolution of technology as well as innovative development in health service system. He said: “ Asia has had varying degrees of success in responding to the pandemic, and there is a growing consensus that countries and societies need to significantly increase health spending and better prepare for the next crisis. By 2030, 60% of the world's population will be aged 65 and over, with Asia home to 60% of the world's population. In the future, spending on healthcare around the world will multiply, so will the industry's demand for professional marketing communications agencies like FINN Partners. ”

Aman Gupta believes that driven by a combination of demographic changes, rising consumer/patient expectations, technological innovation and upgrading of traditional healthcare infrastructure, governments, healthcare companies and healthcare providers will revisit the way health care is delivered and managed, and the “big health” landscape will change. To meet the challenges, the patient-centric digital health ecosystem will grow exponentially at the speed and scale in Asia. It is estimated that the total value of digital health in Asia could grow from $37 billion in 2020 to $100 billion by 2025, unlocking huge market potential. Going forward, China will be a key contributor to the recovery of the healthcare supply chain. At this point, Aman Gupta firmly said: "We will also witness increasing global innovation and investment in Asia. Malaysia, for example, already has the world's largest manufacturer of medical gloves with a 65% global share. There is no doubt that the next decade of healthcare will belong to Asia. ”

Jason conducted an in-depth investigation of China's healthcare industry. He found that China's healthcare industry has achieved rapid development in the past 5-10 years, with the total expenditure of healthcare accounting for 7.1% of GDP in 2020, making it the world's second largest healthcare market. Since 2000, the Chinese government has actively launched a series of policies and incentives to actively guide the development of the industry such as "Healthy China 2030", and the field of health has become the most active track to attract investment. A large number of overseas experts and talents in life sciences have also actively returned to China to start businesses, and a large number of biopharmaceutical unicorns have emerged in less than a decade. All these present specific needs and challenges for communications in the healthcare sector: how to interpret complex policies? How to plan brand positioning for your business? How to accurately disseminate products and technologies to the target audience under the premise of compliance?

In the past three years, with the impact and recurrence of COVID-19, major pharmaceutical companies, scientific research institutions, and medical service institutions have increased their investment to establish their own brand image, and their enthusiasm has increased. Jason said: "I still clearly remember that in the first year of the outbreak, an internationally renowned pharmaceutical company I used to work for had three times the market communication investment in the first half of the year compared to the previous year, and the vigorous development of this field was unparalleled for a while. But at the same time, we have also observed a growing need for talent, knowledge and skills in the communication industry.” As we all know, the public relations industry is a talent-based industry, but there are relatively few talents with medical and health backgrounds. After the pandemic began, companies including FINN Partners began to reserve talent. The agency has made full use of its global healthcare expertise and experiences to empower the Asia-Pacific and China teams. After SPAG’s joining FINN Partners, the agency has built up a strong healthcare team that has a broad global reach and covers a diverse range of categories within the healthcare sector. Among FINN Partners’ 300 consultants specialized in healthcare, over 100 are in Asia, actively supporting communications in “big health” across markets within the region.

Success in “big health” requires strong cooperation
Rooted in Asia and with offices in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, SPAG is one of Asia's most awarded institutions for its exceptional service quality, providing professional public relations services to pharmaceutical companies, health associations and healthcare providers worldwide.

Founded in 2011, FINN Partners has grown from approximately US$24 million in revenue to over US$200 million over the past decade, with innovation and partnership as its core philosophy, and is now one of the fastest growing independent PR firms in the world. Named PR Agency of the Year 2022 by PRovoke Media, FINN Partners, which provides a full range of marketing and communications services, adheres to the core philosophy of innovation and collaboration, and integrates teams with the same mission into the network.

Jason believes that the most core and unique advantages of FINN Partners in the field of health communication can be summarized in two sentences, empowering the team's professional skills and encouraging practice, activating global advantages and local experiences. First, in terms of internal management, as the professional threshold of healthcare communication is relatively high, using global experiences to boost local practices has become important for both clients and PR practitioners. In this regard, having access to the best communications practices over the world is key to empowering practitioners and even improving the entire industry. FINN Partners has an internal "Healthcare Communication University" around the world for the purpose of sharing and empowerment, and regularly promotes cutting-edge practices and case studies to teams around the world. Cao Yue introduced: "Taking myself as an example, I clearly remember the first time I participated in a sharing session, and it’s about doing PR to support recruitment of patients for clinical new drug experiments. It’s indeed an eye-opener. We are committed to introducing best practices to the Chinese market and drive advancement on the local level. ”

Second, in terms of service delivery, FINN Partners always puts offering localized solutions with values in the first place in order to meet communication and marketing goals of different clients. Cao Yue said: "We believe that good strategies can inspire customers to think differently, and to use new ideas to solve specific problems." The world's leading thinking model, operating experience and methodology make us stand out in the camp of international public relations companies, and in the third quarter of 2022, we have won three new clients in China, as a result of our unique integrated global-local strategy.”

SPAG’s joining FINN Partners also means a successful alliance between two outstanding agencies. According to Aman Gupta, as a global leader in healthcare communication, FINN Partners has been providing professional and practical PR consulting services with extensive experiences in both localization and internationalization, which also leads to the company’s growing influence in the industry. He said: "We are committed to creating real value for our clients and building long-term relationships of trust to deliver activities that meet expectations and further build impact. In Asia, we work closely with our global headquarters to serve many world-renowned biopharmaceuticals, life sciences, medtech companies, such as Roche, Novartis, AbbVie, GlaxoSmithKline, NovoNord, Johnson and Medtronic. We actively explore and interpret the challenges and opportunities impacting the healthcare ecosystem in Asia and globally, and provide insights and supports in multiple fields including brand, creativity, PR, policy, compliance, health technology and public health. We are deeply aware of the influence of experts, as well as the important role that medical professionals, patients, caregivers and academia play in advancing the healthcare ecosystem. We are confident that we will coordinate all parties in the system, establish closer exchanges and cooperation, and promote the coordinated development of all stakeholders to achieve a win-win situation.”

Success in “big health” requires more passionate PR practitioners
As an emerging industry, the healthcare industry needs more professional PR practitioners. Aman Gupta believes that healthcare communicators need to both recognize the values of communication in this particular industry and have sufficient knowledge reserves. On the one hand, it is necessary to share the same goal of serving patients and making the world a healthier place. On the other hand, it is important to have the enthusiasm and ability to actively learn and master the knowledge of different professional disciplines, regulations, compliance and a complete health ecosystem, so as to plan and execute PR initiatives that really make an impact. It is also essential to understand the relationships between different stakeholders, including patients, policymakers, civil society, academia, medical professionals, healthcare providers, and more.

Jason insists that healthcare communication has high requirements for practitioners' professional knowledge and believes that if one wants to do a good job in this particular area, he must first have the motivation for in-depth learning as well as the spirit of perseverance. He also shared his personal experience, "In early 2000, the first healthcare project that I did was a grand event that gathered nearly 2,000 professionals in the cardiovascular field in China - The Great Wall International Cardiology Conference (GW-ICC). Organizing over ten meeting sessions, liaising with hundreds of media outlets, and planning as well as drafting dozens of professional articles took a team of over ten including me three months, and all of us were quite new to the cardiovascular field. However, after this tough battle, we became quite familiar with the latest technology and trends in this particular area, and this is a best example of learning from practicing. ”

In recent years, the team led by Jason has been focusing on common diseases, cardiovascular diseases, tumors, rare diseases, etc., using communication thinking and skills to promote disease science, patient education, and guide the public to face up to diseases with scientific perspectives and methods. The team has also revolved around cutting-edge diagnosis and treatment technologies to create communication initiatives and form a unique methodology, while extensively using a variety of storytelling formats including comics, infographics, and creative videos. The influence created by these great stories crafted by Jason’s team has been proved to be truly large and positive. As Cao Yue summarized, “Storytelling is a golden key to the success of PR in healthcare.”

As more and more talents are stepping into the “big health” sector, the industry will continue to advance in the long-term and witness more evolutionary development. At the same time, FINN Partners will consistently explore new opportunities in “big health”, strive to achieve more success and contribute to building a better world.