Weber Shandwick snaps up ReviveHealth to boost healthcare specialties

Before they made their merger official, Weber Shandwick and ReviveHealth worked on a trial run. The two pharma and healthcare communication companies worked together on a client pitch presentation for the business of a large healthcare IT firm competing with 19 other agencies--and they won.

Last week, public relations and communications giant Weber Shandwick bought ReviveHealth and sealed what each companies' chiefs had already intuited; Weber Shandwick's healthcare practice and ReviveHealth's business are a good fit.

Laura Schoen, president of Weber Shandwick's global healthcare practice

Laura Schoen, president of Weber Shandwick's global healthcare practice, said while the firm has extensive experience in helping pharma--including Novartis ($NVS) and Eli Lilly ($LLY)--NGOs and research institutions translate complex science and molecule problems into clear communications, it did not have expertise on the business side of hospital systems and the IT companies that support them. ReviveHealth does, specializing in health systems, health service and health technology.

After the two groups met--introduced by a mutual colleague--they found they not only had capabilities that could enhance each other, but also discovered that, Schoen said, "our cultures are similar and that's very important to an acquisition."

Nashville, TN-based ReviveHealth also adds a new city to the Weber Shandwick corporate family and the potential to develop new business outside of its healthcare practice, she said.

Brandon Edwards, ReviveHealth CEO

ReviveHealth will operate independently under Weber Shandwick, but CEO Brandon Edwards said it will still be able to access Weber Shandwick's capabilities and resources, such as branding, digital strategy, content marketing and public affairs. Teaming up gives ReviveHealth a boost in those areas more quickly than building those out as a standalone company, he said.

"We're going to be as integrated as possible," he said, noting the healthcare tech assignment the two already won several months ago and another joint project now underway.

ReviveHealth reported revenue of $8.7 million in 2014, a growth of 62% year over year; New York, NY-based Weber Shandwick reported revenues of more than $400 million in the U.S. in 2014, and counts Novartis and Eli Lilly among its pharma clients.

- see the merger news release