EVP, Head of Research & Insights
Understanding How Conversations Take Shape
Ken Deutsch has spent the last 30 years pioneering communications strategies, research approaches, and technologies to understand how and why information and messages spread from one audience to another. At JPA Health, Ken directs the Research and Insights Team, where he applied his innovative thinking to develop GRETEL®—the agency’s proprietary research tool that maps audience insights and behaviors across more than 50 health conditions.
Ken was bitten by the data bug early in his career as a grassroots organizer for a political campaign, but transitioned to healthcare in 2011 when he joined JPA Health. He felt motivated by his family’s struggles with cancer, including his own, and saw an opportunity to impact the lives of patients. A turning point came when a client reached out for help as vocal critics were speaking out against the organization’s funding and left them feeling reserved about promoting their message. Ken led a team of researchers to analyze the conversation by audience rather than by volume, and soon realized the critics were operating in a bubble. Their message was loud, but not spreading to the client’s other target audiences. On the strength of this counsel, the client changed their communication strategy, opting not to let a handful of critics drive their agenda. This case study proved to be the origin for GRETEL.
Today, GRETEL helps clients understand how conversations take shape around the globe, bringing together news media, organizations, and individual influencers to show how they are connected and drive action around specific topics. To date, JPA has used GRETEL to develop research capabilities on health policy issues and curated a series of rankings of everything from healthcare journalists to members of Congress. In addition, the agency has cross-referenced 23,000 journalists through GRETEL, allowing teams to quickly see who is active on specific issues and influential to each audience or sub-audience.
“More than ever, it is essential for communications professionals to understand what motivates and drives people,” Ken says. “With GRETEL, we have a tool to ‘follow the breadcrumbs’ and see where they get their information.”