How To Get the Most Out Of Healthcare Trade Conferences

Mar 22, 2023

Attending healthcare conferences is an investment for your company. Balanced against the costs of travel, lodging and registration are the opportunities to make valuable connections, showcase your company and learn more about the industry. Accomplishing those goals requires a plan to get the maximum benefit from your two to three days at the conference.

At Amendola, our public relations experts boast decades of combined experience planning strategy and executing performance across a wide range of healthcare trade shows, from HIMSS and HLTH to RISE and ViVE.

Creating a successful conference strategy begins with defining what your company is and how it can help clients improve care delivery, reduce costs, or boost efficiency – and how you want to characterize those factors to the market.

“Healthcare tradeshows give you the opportunity to showcase your company’s identity to the world,” says Grace Vinton, account director. “Similar to the way each person has a unique identity and personality, so does your company. Are you smart? Funny? Wise? Risk-taking? Get out of your comfort zone and show the industry who you really are!”

Once strategy is set and media targets are selected, schedule meetings and interviews, but don’t make the mistake of walking into these discussions unprepared. It’s important to prepare and know your audience.

“Plan ahead!” recommends Jodi Amendola, CEO. “Schedule meetings well in advance with prospects, partners, potential investors, new hires, etc.  When I attend a key trade show, I have a full calendar of meetings and events before I even pick up my badge and this has served me well. Trade shows are the ideal venue for meeting new people, but also a time to build on existing relationships and catch up over coffee or drinks. Reuniting with former clients, editors and other industry veterans that I have known for years is my favorite part of the craziness at conferences.”

“As a thought leader packing a lot into just a few short days, it’s vital to stay organized,” notes Katlyn Nesvold, senior account director. “Make sure all your meetings are on your calendar, including media interviews, networking lunches with clients or prospects, and add any sessions you would like to attend directly into your calendar so you know where you’re going on the fly! Print and review briefing documents for interviews in advance in case wi-fi isn’t working, and so you can plan for your day.”

In other words, do your homework.

“My best recommendation for clients participating in media interviews is to spend time reviewing the media briefing information so you are familiar with the publication, the reporter, and the likely direction of the conversation,” says Michelle Noteboom, senior director of accounts and content. “Check out previous stories and interviews to familiarize yourself with the topics that might be of interest to the interviewer.”

Whether your company has a booth, is speaking, or is hosting an event, a thoughtful social media strategy is also important. “When I’ve taken the time to align social content with clients’ conference activities, I’ve seen a huge jump in exposure online and in booth traffic,” notes Maddie Noteboom, account manager. “Whether it’s on LinkedIn or Twitter, there is so much chatter throughout these conferences and it’s a wasted opportunity to be sitting on the sidelines. Start by researching relevant hashtags and trends, making a checklist of photo opportunities, and planning out pre, during, and post-conference insights from company leaders. Do the prep work ahead of time and get in on the action during the conference!”

For newer companies, healthcare trade conferences are an excellent opportunity to raise their profiles among key stakeholders such as investors, partners, and analysts.

“Startups looking for industry credibility to increase sales should implement smart thought leadership strategies to drive recognition from credible third parties, such as industry analyst firms, awards programs, speaking opportunities at high-profile events, and even creative collaborations that allow the lesser-known company to leverage the brand equity of a more-known entity,” recommends Mardi Larson, media relations and account director.

Similarly, journalists come to conferences hungry for news and the chance to learn about latest industry developments. Companies attending trade shows can take advantage of this need for news by delaying big announcements until the show.

“I always advise clients to save their big announcements for a trade show,” shares Marcia Rhodes, vice president. “Journalists are always looking for news so if you can hold off announcing a new product or acquisition for a few months so that it is unveiled during a trade show, your odds of getting media coverage doubles. Then be sure to bring hard copies of the press release to hand out in your booth and during media and analyst meetings.”

Of course, there’s never a bad time for a refresher on the basics of trade show attendance, including perhaps the most important consideration for conference-goers: The right footwear.

“The important things to remember about healthcare trade conferences are to get plenty of rest, wear comfortable shoes, and leave enough time between meetings for contingencies,” says Philip Anast, general manager.  “Employing these basic tips will amplify your chances of making the most of your media interviews and analyst briefings and bringing the best reflection of ‘you’ to your company and the influencers you’re targeting.”