News and Insights
FINN Partners: Empowering the Health Ecosystem with Public Relations
January 17, 2023
Originally published in International PR Magazine on January 11, 2023.
On July 18, 2022, SPAG, Asia’s leading health communications and marketing firm, officially joined FINN Partners, a global independent marketing and communications group, further drawing the attention of the public relations industry to the health sector. The “Healthy China” strategy clearly states that by 2030, the total scale of the health service industry will reach 16 trillion yuan.
Against this backdrop, the public relations industry is gradually becoming a hot topic of discussion on how to develop the health sector. International PR Magazine had the opportunity to interview Aman Gupta, Managing Partner of FINN Partners and Health Practice Leader in Asia Pacific, and Jason Cao, Senior Partner of FINN Partners and Head of FINN’s Health Practice in Greater China, to hear their stories on how FINN Partners has developed its health practice.
Success Requires Professionalism + Passion
Based on his early technical accumulation in pharmacy and knowledge from his master’s degree in business marketing, Aman Gupta logically entered the healthcare field and after practice, he set his career direction on communication and dissemination.
In this regard, he explains, “It is based on his own pursuit of a medical mission to build a healthier world for humanity by shaping communication and interaction with stakeholders, combined with vivid and powerful storytelling communications, which I consider to be a very rewarding career.”
Aman’s team led an integrated marketing campaign for a global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the promotion of an innovative molecular drug for the relief of heart failure, through which the marketing campaign built stakeholders’ awareness of this new disease area and enhanced their understanding of how heart failure differs from heart attacks.
At the same time, the team also planned diversified content and communication tools to actively call for government attention, which ultimately led to the inclusion of the new drug in health insurance, achieving a win-win balance of economic benefits and health for both clients and patients.
In his 22 years as a health communicator, Aman has had the opportunity to work with the world’s leading health advocates around many of the most influential topics and events in global health, working together to shape a better world. In recent years, he has focused more on the popularization and academic dissemination of COVID-19 and other pandemic disease topics.
Unlike Aman Gupta, who came from a “scientific background,” Jason Cao’s professional background is in big tech communications. He told PRI magazine, “Big technology itself has a lot to offer, and all technologies can be included and interact with each other. To me, as a PR professional, it is the essence of my career that I am still passionate about throughout more than 20 years of practice in the industry.”
From basic pharmacology to cutting-edge knowledge of various disease treatments and new life science technologies such as bio-gene cell therapy, this is a field with endless extensions, and there are always fresh topics, innovative technologies and vivid and touching patient stories for PR professionals to tell. For Jason Cao, this is what attracts him most to the field of healthcare.
Success Requires In-Depth Research
With more than 20 years in healthcare, Aman Gupta has developed a deep understanding of the Asian health sector. According to his analysis, global healthcare systems are under tremendous pressure in the fight against COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed gaps in the prevention and response capabilities of organizations in public health and revealed the potential for technology to evolve and lead and stimulate more diverse innovation in health delivery systems.
“With varying degrees of success in responding to the outbreak, a consensus is emerging that countries and societies need to significantly increase health spending and better prepare for the next crisis,” he said. “By 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will be aged 65 and older, and Asia has 60 percent of the world’s population. In the future, healthcare spending will increase exponentially around the world, and then the industry will have an increasing need for specialized marketing communications agencies like FINN Partners.”
Aman Gupta believes that the health mega highway will change as governments, healthcare companies and healthcare providers reimagine how healthcare is delivered and managed, driven by a combination of demographic changes, rising consumer/patient expectations, technological innovations and upgrades to traditional health infrastructure. To meet the challenges, the patient-centric, digital health ecosystem will grow at an exponential pace 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, which will undoubtedly unlock huge market potential. Looking ahead, China will be a key contributor to the recovery of the healthcare supply chain.
With this analysis in mind, Aman Gupta is adamant: “We will also witness increasing global innovation and investment in Asia. Malaysia, for example, already boasts the world’s largest manufacturer of medical gloves, with a 65 percent global share. There is no doubt that the next decade in healthcare will belong to Asia.”
Jason Cao has conducted in-depth research on the healthcare industry in China. He found that China’s healthcare industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 5-10 years, with total national healthcare spending accounting for 7.1% of that year’s GDP in 2020, and thus jumping to become the second largest healthcare market in the world.
Since 2000, the Chinese government has actively launched a series of policies and incentives to guide the development of the industry, such as “Health 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 actively returned to China to start their own businesses. In less than a decade, many unicorn star enterprises of biopharmaceuticals have emerged.
This has posed specific and pragmatic needs and challenges to the industry’s communication work: how to interpret complex policies; how to plan brand positioning for companies; how to accurately communicate products and technologies to target audiences in a compliant manner has become the primary consideration for health communications.
In the past three years, with the impact and recurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, major pharmaceutical companies and research institutions, as well as medical service providers, have been investing more in building their brand image with unabated enthusiasm.
“I still remember that in the first year of the outbreak, an internationally renowned pharmaceutical company I worked for invested three times as much in marketing communications in the first six months as it did in the previous year,” says Jason Cao. “But on the other hand, we also observed that the other side of the demand blowout is the mismatch of talent, knowledge and skills in the communications industry.”
As we all know, the PR industry is inherently a talent-based industry, but there are relatively few people with a background in healthcare. After the outbreak began, some companies, represented by FINN Partners, began to stockpile talent. It is understood that FINN Partners makes full use of the global cutting-edge and advanced health medicine communication accumulation and experience to directly empower and enhance the team in Asia Pacific and even China.
With the acquisition of SPAG, FINN Partners has essentially created the most extensive and diversified health communications business segment in the world, with over 100 of the world’s 300+ senior health communications consultants based in Asia, promoting and practicing innovative health communications work around various country regions and markets in Asia.
Success Requires Strong Cooperation
With roots in Asia and offices in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, SPAG is one of the most awarded agencies in Asia for its excellence in providing professional public relations services to global pharmaceutical companies, health associations and healthcare service providers.
Founded in 2011 with innovation and partnership at its core, FINN Partners has grown from approximately $24 million to more than $200 million in revenue over the past decade, making it one of the fastest growing independent PR agencies in the world.
Named PR Agency of the Year 2022 by PRovoke Media, FINN Partners, a full-service marketing and communications agency, embraces a core philosophy of innovation and collaboration, bringing together teams with a common mission into a network.
According to Jason Cao, FINN Partners’ most core and unique strengths in the field of health communications can be summed up a couple ways: empowering team expertise and encouraging practice, and activating global strengths to dovetail with local ones.
The first is the internal management aspect. As the professional threshold of health communications is high, the introduction of the most advanced international health communications practices and experiences to China has become a great concern for both clients and practitioners.
FINN Partners has done a particularly good job in this area of internal empowerment, as we understand that FINN Partners has an internal “Health Communication University” around the world with the goal of sharing and empowering practitioners, and regularly promotes cutting-edge practices and case studies around the world.
“For example, I remember the first time I participated in an internal university where I was exposed to ‘PR communications operations for patient recruitment in new clinical trials,’ which was an eye-opening experience. We are working to bring advanced practices and operations to the Chinese market to inspire further upgrading and development of the local communications industry,” said Jason.
Secondly, in terms of external services, FINN always puts localized operations and practical problem-solving for clients at the forefront of its service value.
“We believe that good strategies can inspire clients to think positively and use new ideas and perspectives to solve concrete problems,” says Jason. “Our unique blend of global and China focus makes us stand out from the rest of the international PR landscape. We have won three consecutive client bids in China in the third quarter of 2022.”
Aman Gupta believes that FINN Partners, a global leader in health communications with a strong track record of “localization and internationalization”, provides clients with professional and pragmatic strategic advice and recommendations to build and expand their business. We are committed to providing our clients with professional and pragmatic strategic advice and recommendations to establish and expand their presence in the industry.
“We are committed to creating real value for our clients and building long-term relationships of trust to deliver events that meet expectations and further build impact. We actively explore and interpret the challenges and opportunities impacting the health ecosystem in Asia and globally, delivering intelligent value and on-the-ground support to our clients around branding, creative, PR, policy, compliance, health technology and public health issues; we understand the influence of experts and the role of medical professionals, patients, caregivers and academia in driving the health ecosystem. We understand the influence of experts and the important role that medical professionals, patients, caregivers and academia play in driving the health ecosystem; we are confident that we can collaborate with all parties in the system to build closer communication and collaboration and drive a win-win situation for all stakeholders.”
Success Requires More Passionate PR Practitioners
Aman Gupta believes that medical and health communication practitioners need to balance their mission and their knowledge and skills. On the one hand, they need to be clear about their original mission of serving patients and human health and building a better and healthier world.
On the other hand, they need to have the enthusiasm and ability to actively learn and master different disciplines, regulations, compliance and the entire health ecosystem in order to carry out impactful activities.
It is also important to understand the relationship between different stakeholders, including patient groups, policymakers, civil society, academia, medical professionals, healthcare providers, etc.
Jason Cao insisted that health communication has high requirements and thresholds for practitioners’ professional knowledge and related knowledge. He believed that to do a good job in planning and communication in this field, one must first have a focused and in-depth learning spirit and perseverance, which are the primary necessary elements.
He told his own personal experience: “In early 2000, the first medical communication project I contacted was the Great Wall International Cardiology Conference, an event gathering nearly 2,000 professionals in the cardiovascular field in China, the organization of dozens of satellite meetings, the communication and reception of hundreds of professional media, and the planning of dozens of professional briefing articles. The organization of dozens of satellite meetings, the communication and reception of hundreds of professional media, and the planning and organization of dozens of professional briefing articles made me and a dozen of partners who had never been in contact with the cardiovascular field busy for three whole months. But after this hard battle, we basically know the latest technology and the core views of leading experts in the cardiovascular field like the back of our hand, which is the best example of learning expertise from practice.”
In recent years, Jason’s team has been targeting general epidemic, cardiovascular, oncology, rare diseases, etc., using communication thinking and skills to promote disease science, patient education, guiding the public to face the disease squarely with a scientific perspective and approach. Meanwhile, around the medical professionals HCP for cutting-edge treatment technologies and programs for communicative interpretation, they have used of story cartoons, infographics, creative video and other means. He has formed a unique methodology, using his “storytelling power and method” to truly empower the communication of medical and health enterprises and has achieved very good results. Therefore, “the perception and skills of storytelling and design will become the golden key to open the door of successful health communications,” which Jason knows very well.
As more and more people flock to the field of health, the health industry will see a longer-term development in the future, and FINN Partners will further develop the field of health and work hard to build a better world.