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Article

FleishmanHillard Announces Leadership Transition in Hong Kong

January 29, 2019

Patrick Yu becomes general manager, Kitty Lee appointed deputy general manager

ST. LOUIS, 29 January 2019 – FleishmanHillard has promoted Patrick Yu to general manager of its Hong Kong operations, effective immediately. Yu succeeds Geoff Bilbrough who has stepped down to return home to New Zealand. Yu will report to Rachel Catanach, FleishmanHillard’s senior partner and president of Greater China.

Patrick Yu

Yu previously served as deputy general manager of FleishmanHillard’s Hong Kong office and will remain the Financial and Professional Services sector lead across Asia Pacific. A trilingual Hong Kong native, he started his career with the agency in 2005 and in 2011 was awarded its prestigious John D. Graham Award for Excellence for outstanding leadership. He delivers guest lectures for The University of Hong Kong and is a sought-after presenter throughout Asia Pacific on financial and fintech communication trends.

“FleishmanHillard is thriving in Hong Kong and the team is poised to achieve another successful year,” said Catanach. “Geoff led with warmth and integrity, earning the admiration of clients and colleagues alike. We are grateful for his contributions, including ensuring a smooth handover to Patrick, and we wish him continued success back in New Zealand.

“Patrick is a highly experienced leader with a proven ability to drive growth for our company and clients. He is well-prepared to lead Hong Kong as general manager, having already served as deputy general manager. Patrick’s tireless commitment to his work is matched only by his strong network of industry contacts across the Greater China region. He is the natural choice to ensure the continued success of our company.”

Kitty Lee

To support Yu, Kitty Lee is promoted to deputy general manager. Lee started her career with FleishmanHillard in 2004 and was promoted to senior vice president in 2015. In addition to her new role, she will continue to co-lead the award-winning Asia Pacific consumer practice and enhance her unique expertise in consumer aviation communications. A trilingual Hong Kong native, and a John D. Graham Award for Excellence recipient, Lee serves as a Full Council Member of the Hong Kong Consumer Council. She also delivers guest lectures for Hong Kong Baptist University and mentors students.

“Throughout her 15-year career at the company, Kitty has distinguished herself as a generous leader in both the PR industry and the Hong Kong community,” said Catanach. “As deputy general manager, one of her key roles will be to coach and lead the next generation of PR practitioners, while instilling the culture of collaboration and excellence that is FleishmanHillard’s hallmark.

“Under the new management of Patrick and Kitty, we demonstrate our company’s commitment to offering unlimited career opportunities and providing clients with local expertise on a global scale. I congratulate them on their achievements and am confident that their complementary skills and expertise will further extend our company’s leadership across Greater China.”

 About FleishmanHillard
FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named Agency of the Year at the 2017 North American Excellence Awards; 2017 ICCO Network of the Year for the Americas and EMEA; PRWeek’s Best Places to Work 2017; PR News’ Best Places to Work in PR 2016-2017; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality for 2018; PR Awards Asia 2017 Greater China Agency of the Year; and NAFE’s “Top 50 Companies for Executive Women” for 2010-2018. The firm’s award-winning work is widely heralded, including at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, and has more than 80 offices in 30 countries, plus affiliates in 43 countries.

 About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,300 public relations professionals in more than 370 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.

Article

Data Privacy is a Fickle Beast

January 28, 2019

The bargain most of us agree to when we decide to use almost any online service is one of the internet’s oldest. The promise of “free” services that help us connect with friends, curate our music library or navigate a traffic jam has generally been a pretty easy exchange for most of us. Though these bargains may not cost money in many cases, it does cost customers the data they offer those services. That bargain has been uncomfortable at times and there are more examples than some would like to admit of companies who have abused the spirit if not the letter of that agreement. But there has been a bit of a shift of late that not only sharpened public views on the responsibilities brands have to keep data secure and private, but also what they believe it means to keep data safe and private particularly on a day like today – Data Privacy Day.

The global regulatory framework is undergoing a bit sea-change in response to this undercurrent consumer discontent with the way organizations have handled consumer data security and privacy through the advent of new regulations like GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act. The reputational risk, however, is much harder to control or predict as it’s almost entirely based on customer perception and expectations that can literally change by the day.

There has always been a healthy undercurrent of skepticism held by customers regarding the ability or inclination of companies to secure and keep customer data private, but recently we’ve seen a bit of a paradigm shift that has broadened and sharpened that baseline skepticism. Though the prevailing winds of customer perception have been blowing towards greater skepticism for a while, once the Cambridge Analytica news hit, customer sentiment has sharpened and organizations across the spectrum have looked for answers about what “right looks like” ever since. What’s more, our Authenticity Gap research found that 81% of engaged consumers in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K. felt it important for companies to take a stand as it relates to data security and privacy so it’s very clear not only that this is an issue isn’t going away, but also that how your company treats this issue is extremely important to your customers.

In this new environment, organizations across the spectrum are looking for answers and they’re doing so for good reasons – this is new territory. Because reputational risk related to data privacy, by nature, isn’t static because it’s almost entirely based on perception as opposed to what laws or regulations compel. That perception is increasingly tied to expectations that have evolved beyond mashing buttons to get through a user agreement and are expecting organizations to be more transparent and proactive in the way they engage with customers about their data, it’s hard to know precisely where to stake your company’s reputation right now.

So what should companies do about this?

In short, because this depends on a variety of factors from the data your company stores to its general approach to external or stakeholder relations, that will need to be a values-based decision made at the very top of any organization. For some, it might simply mean getting a comprehensive sense of the customer data you own or manage so you can adequately prepare for any potential issues that might emerge. Other companies may find the right answer is to be more proactive, clear and flexible in the way they engage with their customers about the data they gather and how customers allow it to be used.

The brutal truth is that no company should assume they will be able to handle customer data on into the future the same way they have in the past. That fundamental bargain companies have entered with their customers about the data they own or use in the past doesn’t necessarily stand today. It’s a different world out there filled with customers who have different fears and expectations of the companies they choose to do business with. New dynamics can also present opportunities for leadership. With customers more focused on security and privacy, companies leading the way and figuring out how they can give customers greater control of their data will benefit. Drawing firm lines around issues relating to data privacy are a good start. Actually demonstrating the security and privacy of customer data is a priority will take you that much further with customers who are clearly more concerned and engaged.

Article

Communicating Leadership During the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum

January 25, 2019

We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing how we live, work and relate to one another and that has been the focus at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos. Many of the sessions covered a myriad of areas relating to this topic, including the impact on how mental health, under the theme Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and spanned from how technology is changing lives to environmental issues such the impact of ocean pollution.

”In this setting, the world’s top leaders in politics, business and think tanks, converge to problem-solve the world’s most pressing issues within half-hour time frames,” said Jan Rasmussen, FleishmanHillard’s Americas lead for the Global Media Council, “making it critical for communications experts, such as FleishmanHillard, to break through the clutter and ensure our client’s voices are heard.”

Many may say that this is just another talk shop but with FleishmanHillard having been at this year’s meeting, a number of significant elements worth noting about the WEF platform have been discovered.

Indeed WEF aims to improve the state of the world by bringing together heads of states, high ranking government officials and leaders of multinational businesses across the globe to address the problems facing the world. If you disagree, the question to ask yourself is, why would such a busy group of important people take time off to fly and spend three days in an extremely cold climate to achieve nothing?

“I believe it starts with a conversation. The more we talk about problems facing the world, the more we are prompted to act, however little it may be. Rome was not built in a day. The meeting is smartly curated in order to get the best out of each session, meeting and engagement opportunity”, exclaims Trevor Chueu, associate director in FleishmanHillard’s Johannesburg office.

While this may seem like a science, there are scientists behind all of the action and those scientists, in this case, are the public engagement team members and their communications role.

The communications department of an organisation is equally important as any other department, such as operations or finance, yet many professionals take it for granted. It was the communications department that was responsible for the crafting of the conference programme, the compilation of the session structures, briefing of the spokespeople as well as speakers, procuring media partnerships and shaping the messages that were supposed to be communicated to respective stakeholders, including the media.

“I can confirm that without the communications personnel of WEF, the conversations at the gathering would have not been structured and packaged as effectively as they were to help shape a narrative that can ignite action,” said Chueu.

If you have ever doubted the significance of the communications function in an organisation or at a talk shop, now you no longer have a reason. The communications team are the backbone of not only starting the right conversation but influencing a thought process that encourages change not only during the event but in the months following and into the next year’s conference.

“The highest skill in media relations is required as the conversation shifts by the moment and by the leader, making it all the more critical to know how the attending media cover the variety of topics and strategically inserting your client into the conversation at the right time and at the right moment with the right message,” Rasmussen said.

 

Article

No Guts, No Thank You

January 23, 2019
By Emily Frager

There is no time more telling about the health of a company’s values then when an issue or crisis lands at the door. Whether a product fail, an executive misconduct, or a service break down – it’s surprising how many seasoned decision makers are paralyzed on what to do.

In these moments, the absence of action turns a company culture into fear, uncertainty and doubt quicker than the smell of burnt popcorn from the breakroom. And, with the pressure on, leaders look for shortcuts and worse – resort to cover-ups, denial and repeat offenses, which we all know can ruin companies, careers and even lives.

Truth is, many leaders are out of shape and lazy when it comes to exercising company values. Without frequent conditioning, they disregard the company values and make short-term decisions based on internal pressures, pressures from the street and/or the media.

Instead, a company should train for, and embrace, opportunities to demonstrate their values. The values should be aligned to the best interests of the customers and employees, integrated into the company’s ethos and pressure tested often.

Companies with strong values produce effective decision makers. Executives that work to these core values focus less on what happened and more on the solution. They have the wisdom of what to do AND the guts to do it.

The good news is that we are seeing a transformation among executives who are leading with values. This is especially on display this week at the World Economic Forum where many leaders are holding events that display why they do business and how they address real-world problems such as human rights, homelessness and mental health.

The companies that train their executives to embrace values will be protecting their relationship with consumers. In fact, FleishmanHillard’s latest Authentic Insights global report, Navigating Zero Gravity, finds that 47 percent1 of consumers are less likely to purchase from companies believed to behave in ways that conflict with their values.

Ultimately, consumers accept that machines break, systems fail and judgments lapse.  It’s how the company reacts and executives decide to address these problems that will define the consumer’s next purchase.

¹TRUE Global Intelligence. Authentic Insights Survey. 2018. https://fleishmanhillard.com/

Article

FleishmanHillard Appoints Kristy Wilson to General Manager of Chicago Office

January 22, 2019

Lauren Walters to lead FleishmanHillard Austin and Dallas as combined Texas offering

ST. LOUIS, January 22, 2019FleishmanHillard today announced the appointment of Kristy Wilson to general manager of its Chicago office.

“Kristy is an experienced leader within FleishmanHillard, known for relationship building and energizing teams,” said J.J. Carter, FleishmanHillard chief operating officer and president, Americas. “She’s a natural innovator – always experimenting with fresh approaches to solve our clients’ toughest problems. We’re excited to have Kristy share her talents with a new market.”

Kristy Wilson

Previously, Wilson served as general manager of FleishmanHillard’s office in Austin. That location will begin reporting to Lauren Walters, who will serve as general manager of a combined Texas offering that also includes the Dallas office. Walters has led FleishmanHillard’s Dallas office with distinction since 2012.

“Chicago is one of the greatest cities on Earth and a highly competitive PR market where FleishmanHillard has been serving clients for decades,” Wilson said. “I’m excited to work with our team to build the office to the next level, adding to our existing foundation in brand marketing and reputation management capabilities across a range of important industries, to bring our clients the high-impact, award-winning work for which FleishmanHillard is known globally.”

Wilson joined FleishmanHillard’s Dallas office in 1998 and has served in multiple leadership and account management roles at the agency, including leading the work for one of the agency’s top 20 clients. Her expertise spans industries, including telecommunications, financial services, energy, travel and healthcare. Before joining FleishmanHillard, Wilson was a member of the public affairs team with Sprint in Florida. She began her career at Kidd & Driscoll (now Kidd Group), a full-service advertising and public relations agency.

About FleishmanHillard
FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named Agency of the Year at the 2017 North American Excellence Awards; 2017 ICCO Network of the Year for the Americas and EMEA; PRWeek’s Best Places to Work 2017; PR News’ Best Places to Work in PR 2016-2017; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality for 2018; PR Awards Asia 2017 Greater China Agency of the Year; and NAFE’s “Top 50 Companies for Executive Women” for 2010-2018. The firm’s award-winning work is widely heralded, including at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, and has more than 80 offices in 30 countries, plus affiliates in 43 countries.

About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,300 public relations professionals in more than 370 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.

Article

14th Annual St. Louis Business Journal Women’s Conference

January 18, 2019

When: Friday, January 25, 2019, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST

Where: St. Louis Union Station Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri

Register now

Dawn Gipson, FleishmanHillard Account Director and Diversity & Inclusion Champion
Dawn Gipson

The 14th Annual Women’s Conference, hosted by St. Louis Business Journal, brings together women who are joining forces and using their voices to enact meaningful change. This year’s conference aims to ensure “Voices” are heard. The conference will include various speakers, including FleishmanHillard’s own Dawn Gipson, as well as breakout sessions and discussion to deepen knowledge and allow for everyone’s story to be told.

Gipson, a St. Louis Business Journal’s Diverse Business Leader of 2018, will participate in Voicing Our Differences (Diversity & Inclusion panel) with Angela Cody and LaShana Lewis. This open-ended discussion is designed to spark conversation about executing and implementing a welcoming culture for all.

This panel is one of the three morning sessions offered from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. It will take place in Regency Ballroom C.

See the complete agenda here.

14th Annual St. Louis Business Journal Women's Conference

Article

Adding your voice to the discussion on “The Future of Work”

January 10, 2019
By Sheila Rose

I know many of FleishmanHillard’s clients have innovative programs to address and enhance the changing nature of the workplace. This is a top-of-mind topic that provides a multitude of opportunities for forward-thinking companies to join the discussion in Tier 1 media.

As just one example, Reuters sponsored a panel – The Future of Work: An Exploration of the Transforming World of Work – just before the holidays that underscored the media’s interest in what employment will look like in the next decade. Moderated by editor Lauren Young, the panel included experts from top companies and professional services firms who took a deep dive into the subject.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • The rise of “new collar” jobs. No longer white or blue, new collar jobs are all about the skills of a worker. Companies are looking to match employees to jobs that best fit their skills.
  • The half-life of job skills is getting shorter. The time that a job is in demand before it’s “innovated away” is getting exponentially shorter and companies and employees must adjust. Spoiler alert: Tech and automation in the workplace will impact not just some of our jobs, but all of our jobs.
  • Companies must help employees reinvent themselves. This should not be a random or ad hoc process – companies should build systems and programs to help employees transform and reinvent themselves on an ongoing basis.
  • Tech is not replacing jobs, it’s enhancing jobs. Tech may drive the process, but forward-thinking companies understand that change is supported by people. People and technological innovation should work hand-in-hand and not be viewed as a zero-sum game.
  • Many tech jobs don’t require years of experience. Certain jobs in AI, data and coding, for example, don’t require a lot of experience or special degrees. Many can be learned in an apprenticeship program with a person going from an out-of-date job to a new and more relevant position.
  • Future of work literacy. What today’s jobs require in terms of skills and experience is something that needs constant and close attention. It’s something companies must address for their own good and for the good of their employees.

Keeping employees engaged and aligned during transformation

It’s also worth noting that all of these tech advances with people impacts are a result of the rapid business transformation happening across every industry and sector – and that the pace and breadth of change is only going to increase.

The companies that will successfully navigate their transformations are those that will take time to listen to employees about what they need and want from their employee experience, and then go the extra mile to connect with them personally, especially as AI plays more prominently in our daily lives.

Younger millennials and Gen Z workers, in particular, will continue to crave more face-to-face interaction. That means communications training for managers will be more important, including guidance on how to communicate via video. And the most effective leaders will know how to lean into their soft skills – the things that AI can’t replace just yet, such as empathy and persuasion – which may require closer working relationships with HR.

Sheila Rose is a Senior Vice President and Partner in the New York office specializing in corporate and financial media relations.

Article

J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference: FDA Speaks

January 9, 2019
By Mark Senak

Yesterday Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was to take the podium to address attendees at the J.P. Morgan 36th Annual Healthcare Conference being held in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, due to the current government funding impasse, he did not make it. But had he been there, it is fair to say that he would have had a lot to say. In the past one and a half years since he became commissioner FDA has seen many “firsts”- the first “smart pill” that can track patient adherence, the first time that the immune system has been harassed to fight cancer, the first prescription mobile app, to name only a few. Also in the course of the past year, FDA set new records in approving not only new molecular entities but also generic drugs.

It is evident that Dr. Gottlieb’s tenure at FDA has represented substantial change – not only in what the agency is doing, but in the way it is doing it. Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act coupled with a long-standing conviction in modernization approaches that could speed up new approvals, support innovation and, as he has often said, do so without compromising the agency’s gold standard for safety.

But it is another significant change at FDA –the way it communicates agency milestones and policy direction – that might be overlooked. With past FDA Commissioners, it was a relative rarity to issue special statements to the public. The office of the Commissioner had a public face only insofar as it could be perceived from public testimony before Congress or from speeches like the one he is delivering to the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. That is no longer the case.

In 2017, FDA issued a total of 164 press releases, which was more than the year before when 122 were issued. This year, FDA dwarfed that number by issuing 289 press releases, or on average 24 a month. Moreover, the primary driver of the increase came from the Commissioner himself. Of the 2018 releases by FDA, nearly 44 percent were made up of Special Statements from the Commissioner – or about 2 such statements on average a week. Not only have agency communications become more frequent, they are more personalized and represent a seismic shift in style and content.

The topics of those special statement not only mark milestones for the agency – special new approvals, e.g., but they also signal developing policy along a wide spectrum. He stakes out direction. Perhaps no other area saw more comment from him than did that of matters related to the opioid epidemic. He has also made an effort to signal his thinking for the e-cigarette industry. In short, when there is an emerging policy matter that is important, he is not waiting for the opportunity to provide testimony or outline his thinking in a speech, nor through the issuance of warning letters –  he is doing it in real time. That represents a big change for FDA and for the way the industries it regulates to understand policy development within the agency.

It is not only in his liberal use of special statements, but also his use of social media. Twitter, which the agency was slow to embrace, is now liberally used by various offices in the agency and the Twitter feed of the Commissioner has been one of the primary means for getting information about how FDA is operating during the current government shutdown. Since December 21, he has issued dozens of tweets, often as a string, to provide updates and clarify what the agency will be doing and what it will not.

The change in communications represents more than a counting game. It provides a real insight as to where policy is headed, but also with reasoning as to why it is going there. Up until these statements, FDA delivered facts. Now the Commissioner adds reasoning and thinking to the mix.

Finally, FDA has become not only a more robust playing field in terms of communications, but has become a more “real-time” regulatory body.  The agency has joined the ranks coming to the realization that providing information and reasoning to the industries it regulates actually benefits that oversight, and does not hinder it. That does not mean that Dr. Gottlieb’s words from the podium at this conference are not worth listening to – he is also a prolific speaker – but it does mean that when we hear those words, if we have been listening between the speeches, we will have a good idea of the directions in which we are going. Everyone wins.

Article

The Increasing Importance of Accountability and Expectation Setting

By Natasha Kennedy

While I am passionate about accountability and expectation setting, I haven’t always understood them.  Once, when I was young, I was supposed to be watching my brother, but instead, I was on the phone for an hour talking to my friends (the days when you would pull the cord as long as it would go and find a closet or room to talk in privately). My brother was busy during that hour. He found a snake and released it into the house. For my punishment, I had to do his chores for a week and was grounded. And, we never found the snake… #accountabilityfail.

During my professional career, I was lucky to be mentored by a few people who helped me bridge my youthful understanding of accountability and expectation setting into the workplace. When you work and serve clients and customers in a highly matrixed and global environment, trust matters. And to build and maintain trust, I argue you must:

  • Set clear expectations to your key stakeholders on who you are, what you will deliver and what your values are
  • Hold yourself accountable to the expectations you set

FleishmanHillard TRUE Global Intelligence, the global strategy and intelligence practice I lead, surveyed 2,000 engaged U.S. and U.K. consumers in July 2018 for our #authenticinsights survey and we found that lack of face-to-face accountability is arguably the most important expectation on which a company needs to take a stand: 70% of U.S. consumers think a lack of face-to-face accountability is extremely or very important as a cultural issue. Over half of those expect companies to take a stand on accountability. Moreover, the most important actions a company can take to improve consumer opinions of it are:

  • Being committed to doing the right thing (77%)
    • More important to females and the silent generation (73+ years old)
  • Contributing to society to make a positive impact on the community (74%)
  • Agreeing to be held accountable for behaving, and acting in support of its position on social issues (71%)

U.S. consumers expect the companies that they buy products and services from to take a stand on many issues that are important to them. Perhaps it is time for another “P” in the marketing mix: “position” on issues. Businesses need to understand how those hot-button issues intersect with their corporate values and demonstrate accountability according to those values by addressing them proactively and authentically.

If you don’t hold yourself accountable, your key stakeholders surely will.

Article

What to Watch at the 2019 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

January 7, 2019

The annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco starts today. More casually known as “JPM,” it is the year’s must-attend event of the healthcare world.

Billions of dollars are at stake. At JPM, leaders of healthcare companies and organizations stand in front of investors to persuade and demonstrate why they should risk capital. Say the right thing at the right time to the right people, and your company’s fortunes could change.

The competition is high and the noise is loud. It’s not easy to get in front of the “right people” when your competitors do, too. In addition, journalists are a crucial conduit to reach far beyond conference halls and meeting rooms. With so much information – hundreds of companies will flood communication channels with information – it’s hard to know what really matters.

Lastly, while it’s sometimes forgotten, what happens at JPM has a real impact on anyone who depends on a medicine to stay healthy, a hospital to perform a surgery, or a chemist or biologist who wants to invent a therapy that will save someone’s life.

Here’s what we’ll be watching, and stay tuned for more.

The news cycle for JPM already started. How long will it last, and will early announcements drown out other companies’ news?

On Thursday, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced it would acquire Celgene in a cash and stock transaction with an equity value of approximately $74 billion. According to the trade publication BioWorld, if the acquisition is completed, it would be the largest M&A deal in biopharma history.

For JPM attendees, it’s almost a yearly tradition to hope for a large M&A announcement but leave disappointed. Perhaps this deal, judging by the amount of media attention it’s already received, bucks the trend. But what will “Part 2” of the story beat JPM, and can other companies breakthrough? Celgene is historically the first company to present at JPM, and this year is no different. You can bet their presentation on Monday at 7:30 a.m. PT will be standing-room only.

The FDA can’t continue its record-setting pace if it isn’t open for business.

The FDA was extremely productive last year, approving 59 new molecular entities, an all-time high for the agency. New drug approvals make or break a company’s business. But with the government experiencing a partial shutdown, the FDA, and the companies who depend on it, is at a distinct disadvantage.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who has (as well-documented by my colleague Mark Senak) been an excellent, even prolific, communicator, hasn’t let the shutdown stop him. He’s used Twitter extensively over the last week to issue “guidance by tweet.” But even he cannot prevent some activities from grinding to a halt. Most importantly, a government shutdown means the FDA cannot accept any regulatory submissions for new drugs, biologics or medical devices that require a fee payment – unless the required fee was paid before Dec. 22 when the last continuing resolution expired.

Who can grab our attention?

As professional communicators, we’re always looking for who can execute what we feel is a vitally important skill. We’ve seen plenty of smart, capable executives get in front of a packed room that may as well have been empty. Minutes in, attendees are scrolling through their phones or checking their laptops. For many CEOs, their JPM presentation is the most important one they’ll make in 2019. Who will take full advantage? Who will grab our attention and not be afraid to take a risk by using video, interactive images or other engaging tools? And who will also be deft enough to use social media to make sure the company is visible beyond the walls of the conference room?

FleishmanHillard will be on the ground in San Francisco this week. As communicators, we’ll be paying close attention to how companies communicate and what captures widespread attention. Our healthcare team will be sharing a daily report highlighting announcements and conversations at the conference. If you’d like to receive the updates, send an email to [email protected]