As healthcare marketers seek to comply with the updated Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, many will be looking to event organizers for new, compliant avenues to promote their brands. For the savvy event planner, now might be the time to take a look backwards — and see some of the tried-and-true marketing vehicles in a new light.
Meeting Publications = Marketing Opportunity
Over the years, as marketing sponsorship opportunities grew more varied (hotel bathroom mirror ceilings anyone?), some of the core products designed to help guide medical event attendees were underutilized as potential marketing vehicles. With many sponsorship opportunities now off-limits, event programs, session and exhibit guides, meeting newsletters and newspapers, and even event-specific city guides are gaining new attention from healthcare exhibitors. If your event publishing program already offers these attendee resources, now is a good time to promote them to your exhibitors as key elements of their marketing campaigns.
Whether you are looking to implement some of these resources for the first time or to reintroduce them, it is important to note that technology and green printing improvements have brought about changes you need to incorporate.
- Go local
Contracting with a printer local to your event venue not only saves money and carbon emissions by reducing freight distance, it also has the benefit of enabling later deadlines. With later deadlines, there's more time to sell and you have more options for getting last-minute editorial, exhibitor, and scheduling details into the publication.
- Go green
It's not as easy as it should be to specify environmentally-friendlier paper stock when it comes to publishing locally in your event city — another reason to source your print partner early. Paper stocks with up to 30 percent post-consumer waste content are fairly common nationwide. But if you are seeking something with a higher content of recycled material, you may need to hunt, so be specific when soliciting print bids.
- Go digital
Today it is not uncommon — in fact, you might say it's in vogue — to offer meeting content electronically or through digital editions. Reduced production and distribution costs combined with a wide variety of rich media options also make digital media very attractive to marketers.
- Get help
For many healthcare event organizers, just the thought of taking on responsibility for additional publications — print or digital — can be daunting. If your organization has a publications department, enlist their assistance. If your publications department balks, there are a number of outside resources, ranging from print houses to firms that specialize in event publishing, to assist you. The best way to find a publishing partner is to ask your peers at other healthcare association events. Their experiences are the best reference for success at your own event.
Steve Smyth, director of national accounts, TriStar Publishing Inc., Overland Park, Kan., has more than 17 years' experience in association publishing and sales, including 10 years specializing in event publishing services for healthcare societies. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.