Throughout my career, I have managed press operations and supported public relations efforts at many medical and scientific meetings, both in-house and agency side. While each conference has its own personality and rhythm, along the way I have picked up some tips you can use for your next meeting.
1. If you are able, do your own walk through before the meeting starts. Find the fastest way to get from the press room to the ballroom, poster sessions, etc. This will be helpful when you need to locate a researcher or leadership for a reporter on deadline!
2. Check your keynote’s contract to see if they are available for media interviews. Each keynote is different and may be there just for their talk. Confirm before you start pitching them to the media.
3. Pitch regional papers where a researcher/institution is located. Meeting’s in San Diego and the researcher is from Denver? Include Denver media in your outreach efforts.
4. Start researching and following local media outlets well before you arrive. If they don’t have a health/science reporter, call the outlet and find out the best person to contact. Regardless, get the meeting on their daybook. Does the meeting fall on a weekend? Many do, so don’t forget about reaching out to the weekend editors.
5. The public information officers (PIOs) at a researcher’s institutions are invaluable. From approvals to coordinating media requests, reach out to them as soon as you can!
6. Get all your researchers on-site contact information, including their headshot. There have be quite a few times I have waited at their poster and being able to recognize them among the hundreds of others came in handy!
7. No task is too large or too small. Your day can start with teleprompter training for leadership and end with straightening up the press room. Both are important.
8. I think it is safe to say that you don’t need a fax machine in the press room anymore. 🙂
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