I’ve attended a lot of medical meetings over the past eight years and just recently had the chance to attend the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s Annual Meeting for the first time. I knew the research presented at ASCO always generates a ton of news, but I had no idea how large and influential the meeting really was until I got there. I arrived back in D.C. with a new appreciation for the researchers who present their life’s work at these meetings, and the reporters who have to sift through all of the data and share it with the masses. After a few days of sessions, media outreach and downtown Chicago, I decided there should be a list of things that are essential to surviving ASCO, the granddaddy of all cancer-focused conferences.
#5 – Have a plan, but be flexible. As communications professionals preparing for a major medical meeting, we plan, plan again and then plan some more. But the biggest lesson I learned is that media priorities are constantly changing and your plan must evolve alongside. Keeping pace with Twitter, published stories and daily meeting news allows you to tailor your communications and plans as you go. You may have prepared a great pitch based on certain meeting trends and chatter, but being able to adjust your angles, available interviews and materials in real-time will make you more valuable to reporters.
#4 – Keep it short and sweet. Everyone at ASCO is being pulled in a million directions. Reporters have to attend press conferences, interview experts and write stories about multiple studies each day. Researchers are presenting, constantly meeting with people and giving interviews. Be prepared to ask your question, pitch your story or introduce yourself in 20 seconds or less. This way you’re respecting their time and making yourself get to the point faster.