“One small”, important step for me, one giant step for PR

I recently learned that I was selected for induction into the 2013 Canadian Healthcare Hall of Fame (CHMHF). The ceremony will take place at a luncheon on April 10th as part of the 11th annual National Pharmaceutical Congress organized by The Chronicle Companies, publishers of The Chronicle of Healthcare Marketing, and more. The Congress is attended by pharmaceutical marketers and is a thought-provoking event for Canadian industry leaders to present and share new ideas and innovations.

There is not much more a PR professional can ask for than recognition in a room of potential clients. After a considerably long, exciting, challenging and colourful career with its fair share of 15 minutes of fame one becomes an expert at managing expectations, yet I was tremendously humbled by this honour which teeters outside the public relations world. I look forward to seeing my name and mug shot among the presidents of pharma companies including the big multinationals (some clients included!); distinguished physicians who have championed marketing and communications; the heads of the industry`s regulatory groups and last year’s inductee young Aaron Maresky and his mother Mandy who created Aaron`s Apple, an inspiring fundraising initiative. Fewer than 100 inductees are currently in the CHMHF so it stands to reason that I was quite chuffed to be included in this year`s group of inductees.

But it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion that “it’s not all about me,” and in fact it isn’t. Along with being recognized by the CHMHF I learned that I will be the first public relations professional
to be so honoured.

I’ve made it a point of stressing not only the value of public relations in pharmaceutical and health-related marketing, but also how it differs from advertising and other marketing disciplines. Historically, advertising occupied a lonely, but happy, place in pharma marketing with other marketing disciplines trying to garner a piece of the pie. But as healthcare PR specialists demonstrated the power of earned media (ask yourself how Viagra was launched) as well as the role of PR in reputation management, corporate social responsibility, disease promotion, patient education and advocacy,  not to mention the introduction of new medications and innovative therapies, the value of this discipline has become increasingly recognized.

All in all, April 10th will be a great day for me, but it will also afford me a pulpit from which to thank the selection committee of the CHMHF for embracing PR in healthcare marketing. I am certain that my colleagues in PR who share my passion for healthcare, will consider nominating other worthy recipients in the years to come.


Carol Levine (@Carol_levine) is co-founder and Managing founder of energi PR, digital, communications, an award-winning independently owned Canadian PR consultancy established in 1990 with offices in Toronto and Montreal. energi PR is the Canadian affiliate of the Public Relations Global Network, providing expertise in consumer and healthcare public relations to national and multinational brands. Carol is the immediate past Chair of the Canadian Council of Public Relations firms and is a 2013 Inductee in the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame as well as a Fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society.