HIMSS18 Interoperability
Packed crowd waiting for blockchain presentation during Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS 2018.

By Chanel Benoit, account director

Blockchain, AI and the never-ending saga of EHR fatigue; these were just some of the themes percolating in Vegas earlier this month during HIMSS. My colleague Scott and I were busy with clients, including Quest Diagnostics, Remedy Partners and Inovalon, but we took some time to stroll the different halls to see what’s new in HIT. From IBM Watson to Google to the Interoperability Showcase, it’s amazing to see how the players in the healthcare IT ecosystem are changing.

While my colleague Scott was busy speaking with healthcare companies about Brand Journalism, my primary objective for HIMSS was media and influencer engagement, and it was great to see so many familiar faces in Vegas. Between my three clients onsite, I staffed nearly 20 interviews over three days. We kept our spokespeople busy. That said, I did find time to make some observations that may be helpful for companies thinking of putting on a larger media push at HIMSS19.

Below are three observations that may help shape your future HIMSS PR strategies.

  • The media interview room is still a great place to connect with press.While company booths are most convenient for executive briefings, the media room is a great alternative. We saw many veteran journalists and new bloggers alike holding interviews and networking there. For the intrepid PR manager – or those who missed the opportunity to schedule well in advance of the show – consider camping out at the media room. 
     
  • Digital storytelling is all the rage. While we encourage traditional sit-down interviews, it’s clear that journalists and influencers at HIMSS were focused on digital stories as well.  Not only was the media interview room full of recording equipment this year, but many traditional and new media influencers have recently launched highly targeted online shows. For example, we scheduled interviews with David Harlow’s Harlow on Healthcare and lined up future segments with Matt Fisher on Healthcare de Jure. Audio interviews offer spokespeople an opportunity to tell stories in ways that simply aren’t possible with traditional print interviews.
     
  • Overpreparation for media interviews is still worth it. If you let briefing books and spokesperson prep become formulaic, coverage will suffer. The time spent months before HIMSS targeting reporters and honing stories can mean the difference between reporters’ post-event media coverage and a simple “nice to meet you.” Each meeting should have an objective, and don’t be afraid to state it openly, whether it’s for a story related to HIMSS or for future editorial opportunities. We expect – and will ultimately deliver – some actionable outcome from each of the meetings we scheduled for HIMSS. This should be your expectation too.

It’s never too early to start thinking about HIMSS. In fact, you should consider bringing the same thought process and discipline to any large tradeshow: know your media and how they work, don’t skimp on your preparation and have a plan for actionable outcomes. If you would like to know how we prepare for successful media engagement at HIMSS and other tradeshows, drop me a line – I’d love to discuss our approach.

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