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The Communiqué Awards at 20: Sarah Matthew

The president of Golin's global health practice on her long-standing association with the awards

With regard to the Consultancy of the Year/Communications Consultancy of the Year Awards you have been involved with, where were you when you won them, and where are you now?

Managing director at Shire Health London for Consultancy of the Year of the Year 1998, 1999 and 2001.

Joint managing director at Virgo Health for Best Small Consultancy 2004, Communications Consultancy of the Year 2006, 2009 and 2010, and Medical Communications Consultancy of the Year 2012 and 2016.

Now: president of global health practice at Golin (incorporating Virgo Health)

What has been the biggest change in healthcare communications during your time in the industry?

Without doubt, the nature of the work we do. The market landscape in which we work has changed dramatically over this time which in turn has profoundly shaped both what we do and how we do it. Our work  today bears very little resemblance to the work we were doing 20 years ago, when most of the channels we now use routinely didn’t even exist. That’s the great thing about working in healthcare communications: it’s always evolving.

What influence have these wins had on your career?

Winning a Communiqué award is a source of great pride for any agency and of course for our clients too. It’s a great feeling to receive recognition from your peers and in such a public way. Having been lucky enough to be part of the winning team for Agency of the Year on nine occasions, I’m quite certain the awards have been a positive influence on my career.

The sense of achievement helps to boost team morale, making day-to-day working even more enjoyable. And other positive consequences include attracting new people to come and work for us and new clients to come and work with us - people like to be part of a winning team. I’m sure this has resulted in being able to work with some of the most talented people on some of the most rewarding work for some of the most inspiring clients over the last 20 years.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

With my career now spanning more than 30 years there are a number of people who have had a big influence. However, there are actually two who stand above all others.

The first is Margot James who was chief executive of Shire Hall (later Shire Health and now Ogilvy Healthworld) when I joined. She was the very first winner of the Communiquétor of the Year award and rightly so as she is essentially the founding mother of healthcare communications in the UK. It was a great privilege to work with Margot and she continues to be an inspiration to me.

The second is, of course, Angie Wiles, my co-founder and business partner, without whom Virgo Health would never have existed, let alone become such a success.

What do the Communiqué Awards mean to you?

The Communiqué Awards have been present throughout my entire career in communications - from participating in the first focus group to explore whether such a concept was even feasible to this year submitting the 20th set of entries.

I have been lucky enough to do a lot of celebrating at and after the Awards and so there are many happy memories for me and I always love having the chance to catch-up with clients and colleagues, past and present.

However, it is always front of mind for me that Communiqué provides the opportunity to celebrate the very best in our industry and remind ourselves of the meaningful contribution we are making to people’s health. This is reinforced through the judging process, which although a lot of work, and always at one of our busiest times, is nonetheless a huge privilege to be a part of.

This year the Communiqué Awards celebrate 20 years of recognising excellence in healthcare communications. To take part in the festivities,book your tickets and join us at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 6 July.

11th May 2017

From: Marketing

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