Spectrum's Kaitlin Bowen by the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

By Kaitlin Bowen

I’ve been in Sydney, Australia for just over a week now as a part of the GLOBALHealthPR® Professional Exchange Program. While I’ve done “heaps” of touristy things like check out sweeping views of the city from the Sydney Tower Eye, watched surfers catch some waves at Manly Beach and hung out with koalas at the Wild Life Sydney Zoo, I’ve also gotten a taste of what it’s like to live as a local Aussie. Here are a few things about working with colleagues at our partner agency Team VIVA!  that I wanted to share:

Patient Focus

I've found my work at VIVA! to be highly patient-centric, and find it surprising that a recent Pharma In Focus white paper reports that one in three Australian pharma marketers felt they failed to focus on the patient. Most campaigns include regional or State-specific patient spokespeople who can provide first-hand commentary on what it’s like to live with a certain disease or condition. VIVA! has a real knack for media relations, and develops comprehensive patient case studies, videos and infographics (both still and animated) that are really easy for the media to reference and extract for use in their stories 

No Product Mentions

Under the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, you cannot mention the names of specific pharmaceutical products or anything that might imply a specific type of treatment in communication to consumers beyond a new product launch, or when the product secures a second indication. So PR and marketing firms need to get creative and find ways to connect with consumers in meaningful ways on behalf of their pharma clients. Programs are often implemented through unrestricted grants to advocacy groups and tend to focus on disease state awareness.

Collaborative Team

VIVA! starts each week with an all-agency meeting. The team works well together, and sometimes it's all hands on deck. Even the agency’s Principal is not afraid to jump in and help, lending her expertise and experience to all aspects of client service. I’ve also found Australians to be quite direct with each other – no sugar coating feedback or direction – which helps keep projects moving along efficiently and boosts camaraderie within the agency, resulting in the best work for clients.

Life in Sydney

The public transport in Sydney is very user-friendly. After only a few days, I was navigating the system like a local. The Opal card, like DC’s SmarTrip or New York’s MetroCard, is really simple to “top up” and each station has easy-to-read digital screens with a clear look at what stops are up next. Plus, the card works seamlessly for the train, bus and ferry systems.

From what I've seen, my colleagues and their fellow Sydney residents are a pretty active bunch. Most folks on Team VIVA!  take a walk midday, go for a run after work, or hit the gym a few times a week. Overall, Aussies thrive on the outdoors (who can blame them with the country’s natural beauty and proximity to the beach?), which fuels a healthy outlook on life.

Kaitlin Bowen is participating in the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program representing exclusive U.S. partner Spectrum. The Program aims to enhance the connectivity of GLOBALHealthPR agencies through collaboration, best practice sharing, and insights into the drivers that affect health and science communications in different markets worldwide, and to build professional relationships with other GLOBALHealthPR personnel around the globe.


Kaitlin is an account director at GHPR U.S. partner Spectrum. To follow her experiences on the GLOBALHealthPR Professional Exchange Program online, use #GHPRConnects to join the conversation and see all of the 2016 exchange programming.