MacDougall Musings

Communicating Around Scientific Conferences and Medical Meetings

by Matthew Corcoran and Isabel Good

Spring is a busy time for scientific conferences and medical meetings, and after more than two years of virtual events, we’re seeing a return to in-person meetings.

No matter the format, scientific conferences and meetings are fundamental to the life sciences industry for showcasing research discoveries, technological innovations, and communicating with the wider scientific and medical communities. This is true for academic institutions as well as preclinical companies and those with products commercially available.

Participation at scientific conferences and medical meetings is a way to signal to the media, potential employees and investors that your company is making progress against identified scientific goals.

Over the years, we have worked with many clients to identify the best opportunities to maximize the impact of the data presentations.

Sharing Research Through a Press Release

Sharing research at medical meetings is standard practice for most companies, and scientific communication is the foundation of the strategic calendars we develop for our clients.

In many cases, it’s clear what conferences a company needs to attend to reach the right audiences. For example, a cell therapy company targeting blood cancers may prioritize the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting; the American Society for Cell and Gene Therapy Annual Meeting (ASGCT), held in May; the American Society for Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting (ASCO), held in June, or the American Hematological Society Annual Meeting (ASH), held in December.

However there are many other events that might prove useful to attend, such as KOL events, investor conferences and academic gatherings focused on specific sub-fields.

For certain high profile events your company attends, a press release can be an effective way of sharing research with a wider audience.

A press release is a useful tool to package your research findings and describe the implications for your work in an easily digestible format for reporters and investors. Even if the press release doesn’t lead to media coverage – and sometimes they don’t – releases act as a record of the research that you have shared publicly. Over time, a series of press releases on key conference participation can tell a compelling story about a company’s scientific progress and evolution.

The Next Level: Media Outreach

If you’ve decided to issue a press release, it’s possible that the media might be interested in the story. Typically we work with clients to target specific media with the goal of landing a story in a relevant outlet, which provides additional value by reaching more readers than a press release could alone.

Keep in mind, there are vast amounts of biotech research occurring every day, and securing media attention is a competitive game. “Reporters aren’t always driven by the data itself, but by how that data may enable new treatment options for patients in need,” said Shannon Youngberg, Account Coordinator at MacDougall. “This is why we focus on sharing more about the wider implications of the scientific findings and how the research will impact the industry. Our job is to help frame the importance of the research for reporters.”

“Emphasizing key details in data announcements, from historical milestones to the ‘why’ this data is promising, can help to stick out to reporters,” said Carolyn Noyes, Senior Account Executive.

Maximizing Reach Using a Social Media Campaign

Another way to connect with a wider audience around conference participation is through a social media campaign.

Engaging followers can be as simple as posting graphics that explain the science, live-tweeting updates, or publishing LinkedIn articles that are authored and shared by the scientists presenting the data.

For a recent campaign, we created a series of animated social cards highlighting key information from the client’s presentation and assembled them into a story-like flow on the client’s feed. “Unlike a text-heavy post about the presentation itself, engaging and capturing the audience’s attention through short animations and graphics can convey key messages in a more captivating and easily absorbable way,” said Emily Wong, Account Manager at MacDougall.

Live-tweeting is an effective way to generate real-time content to promote your company’s participation outside of a presentation or poster. Consider replying to posts about other scientific posters that are relevant to your research or discussing current scientific accomplishments and announcements with other attendees online. Live-tweeting can help you engage with other companies and partners, draw attention to your company and increase engagement. Highlighting your company’s participation in an event can help you stand out amongst the crowd with your target audience.

LinkedIn articles are another way to help increase brand engagement at a conference. These articles can be blog-style pieces that are written and published by presenters to generate community conversations beyond the event. Have the presenter post the article on their LinkedIn to reach an audience your company may not always interact with.

These approaches can help you share scientific progress with key audiences, raise awareness about your approach, and build credibility for your company. Creating thoughtful, engaging content based on your brand can be complex but crucial in maximizing the attention you receive on your company’s progress.

Contact our team to learn more about how you can strategize to maximize your impact at conferences and meaningfully connect with target audiences.