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Pharma, the Champion of the Symposium World

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

Words by Louise Rogers

Visualise stressing over your symposium speakers and slides, to then only find a room sparsely filled with HCPs. And what about the man who had to take a phone call mid-presentation? How are you going to ensure he catches the content he missed? The affair of organising a symposium is a triathlon of meticulous planning: pre, during, and post congress. What are the pain points where pharma tends to hit the wall, subsequently resulting in an undesired return from the investment into their symposium?

“In my experience, more often than not, companies don’t set specific goals and therefore won’t be able to assess their performance”, says Spencer Gore, CEO, European Medical Group. “Companies spend a lot of the time on the actual event itself and neglect any promotion beforehand.”

Daniel Healy, Senior Project Director, European Medical Group, reaffirms Gore’s thoughts on pre-promotion. “Other than that, a challenge for pharma is the lack of alignment with the overall message they want to communicate and the one the key opinion leaders are feeding to the audience.”

Companies don’t set specific goals and therefore won’t be able to assess their performance

He goes on to discuss the profuse volume of information at any congress. “It’s impossible for any HCP to be present at every session and a lot of the information gets lost in the ether.” It is crucial that pharma capture their symposium so that it can be repurposed in various engaging and digestible formats. “The best thing you can do is film your symposium”, comments Gore. “That way you can slice it up and use it as a podcast or a webcast or just keep it the way it is. There’s also then the possibility to convert the video into a review article, which can easily be sent out in different formats over a period, ensuring maximum engagement.”

“The other thing to note is the modern HCP – they have busy lives and need targeted concise communications. We need to be giving individuals information in the right place at the right time”, adds Healy.

If we think about the way we learn, it’s uncommon we remember everything the first time we read, see, or hear it. “Some people prefer visual, some audio, it just depends how you learn best. And if you see that content in different ways, over a period, it’s more likely to stick, than just once at a very busy congress”, says Gore.

It really is about planning a journey, rather than a one-off campaign

Once the race is run and pharma have crossed the finish line, how do they best engage with HCPs to establish whether they have achieved their end goal? Healy echoes Gore’s first sentiment. “I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing why you are hosting the symposium and what you want to get out of it. What’s more, when you send out content post-congress, it’s essential to track the repurposing success. If you’re a marketer, then your ROI – how many people have read or viewed it?”

“I would measure a net promoter score of the event”, adds Gore. “Measure it beforehand as well so you’re engaging with the audience – this is more likely to get them to turn up to the event. Thereafter do another assessment, another net promoter score or online education perhaps? It’s all about tracking for me.”

“It really is about planning a journey, rather than a one-off campaign”, concludes Healy.

A triathlon is not only about the mid-cycle, the swim and the run are equally important, and organising a symposium is no different. To obtain the most from the event, the pre and post congress marketing campaigns are critical, ensuing that your symposium isn’t lost in and among busy congress schedules.

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