The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting provides a unique opportunity to connect with oncology professionals, major media outlets, and other industry representatives from across the globe. It’s undeniably one of the most important conferences for the oncology community every year.
But successfully navigating such a large conference requires strategic thought beforehand. Thoroughly preparing for the event will help ensure that you make valuable connections, tune into relevant and applicable presentations, and make the most of your time there.
Below, we explore our top 10 tips for preparing for the ASCO Annual Meeting.
1. Coordinate among all internal groups attending
Your company may send several different groups to the meeting — such as marketing, communications, and medical. Make sure to coordinate among these teams early and often to make sure everyone is aligned on your messaging, marketing materials, and other relevant information. Your PR should complement your booth materials and overall business priorities, and no one working the booth should be caught off guard if someone asks them a question about recent symposiums or press releases.
2. Know your media targets
Many media representatives will have badges to access various parts of the event, and some may host their own events related to the conference. In short, it’s likely you will run into them at some point — so know who they are and what they look like, and most importantly, what their beat is, so you aren’t unprepared if you run into them on the conference floor or at a cocktail party.
3. Book lodging early
Such a large event means that hotel rooms will be in high demand — so book your lodging early. If you’re an agency and it’s appropriate based on your relationship with them and the status of their business, ask your clients who are attending if they have availability in their room block. Their negotiated rate is probably the best you will find.
4. Prepare relevant conversation topics
As you prepare your communications strategy, explore current trends across the industry to see how you may be able to plug into conversations. The data you present during the conference will be specific to your company and its long-term strategy, of course, but there are lots of other ways to relate to what’s going on in the cancer community as a whole. Brief your spokespeople on these trends and how your company relates to them, so they can be prepared to discuss them as they come up.
5. Prioritize health equity
Even outside of ASCO, your company should prioritize health equity in its research, as it has become an important trend over the past few years and will continue to be top-of-mind as companies move to become more inclusive in all operations, from research to clinical trials. Your company spokespeople should be prepared to discuss how the company is working to advance health equity and make research representative of all patients.
6. Check embargo guidelines
ASCO is very clear about embargo dates for abstract titles, abstracts, and posters, so it should be easy to follow the rules and avoid any issues. However, it’s worth double and triple checking to clarify when you can distribute your pieces of communication. With the embargo dates in mind, you can set a reasonable timeline to create and review materials.
7. Coordinate with current and former colleagues
Prior to the conference, connect with current and former colleagues to arrange times to talk with them during the event. The members of your professional network will likely have a busy schedule of meetings and events at ASCO to prioritize, so look for quick and low-pressure opportunities to catch up, like grabbing coffee or swinging by the booth between sessions.
8. Make time to attend presentations
If you have a badge to the presentation sessions, use it! Each year, global cancer experts debut incredible research and education, so take a look at the more than 200 sessions available and see what you can fit into your conference schedule. The Q&A sessions are particularly useful to gain candid insights from researchers as they answer questions from their peers. Bring a notebook, and make sure to take notes on some of the exciting advancements.
9. Establish a monitoring protocol
Establish a trend, competitor, and overall monitoring protocol at least two weeks before the conference starts. This will allow you to arm your clients with timely, clear reports for each day of the conference to provide them with accurate, relevant industry snapshots.
10. Soak it all in
After much preparation, enjoy the privilege to attend this conference! This event brings together the brightest minds in the cancer community and features the latest advancements in cancer care and research, which will eventually go on to benefit patients. It is an exciting thing to bear witness to! (Plus, it doesn’t hurt the city of Chicago is beautiful at this time of year.) Learn, share, and take it all in.
The ASCO Annual Meeting promises a wealth of exciting new research, quality connections, and compelling speakers. But to successfully navigate the event, it’s critical to plan well ahead of time. With these tips, you can be sure you make the most of your time at the conference.
If you need more help preparing for this or other industry events, ICR Westwicke can help. Get in touch for help with fine-tuning your messaging, preparing for investor meetings, and more.