As a medical writer working in a pharmaceutical company or a contract research organisation most of the times your job responsibilities are not limited to writing. In fact in senior medical writer positions you function both as a writer and a project manager being responsible for completion of projects on time. On many occasions medical writers are required to attend events such as new product launch, lectures by eminent personalities, conferences, seminars etc so that an event summary (highlights) can be written to be made available to people not present at the event or for publication in any of the company newsletters, newspapers, magazines, journals etc.
Before you attend any such events, it is important that you prepare well, know in advance how to carry yourself and what points to make a note of during the event. Your company may already have a standard operating procedure (SOP) related to attending events, so if your company has one, read it thoroughly. If you are new to the company, it will act as a guide for you to do things right as per the expectation of your line manager or seniors.
When preparing for the event, at minimum, research the speakers to know the most about them beforehand. This will help you talk to them and strike a cord when you meet them in person during the event. If they notice that you already know about them, it will create the base for a healthy working relationship in future. Also, know what the event is about and what all topics will be spoken on. Do not forget to carry your business cards, notepad, pen, audio recorder and any other relevant documentation related to the event. Know the dress code for the event but if you are not sure, keep it formal. Ensure that you know the address of the place where the event is taking place so that you reach in time.
If you are meeting your client (the organizer or the speaker) for the first time, give a call to them a few days prior to the event and introduce yourself. Reconfirm the event details and communicate that you are looking forward to the event and to meet them in-person. Should it not be possible to make a phone call, sending across an email is also fine. On the day of the event ensure that you arrive on time, preferably at least 30 minutes prior to the starting time. Meet the organizers and the speakers and again introduce yourself. Remind them about the phone call that you had made or the email that you may have sent across earlier. Also give a brief idea about why you are there and the project that you are undertaking. To be courteous and respectful is one of the basic work ethics of any medical writer. Throughout the event keep making notes in your notepad or diary (or record using an audio recorder if possible) as they will help you write the event summary quicker and better when you are back at work. Make notes about who said what, questions asked, and all relevant points that were discussed.
Once the event closes, before you leave, again meet up with the speakers to appreciate their efforts and to inform that you were glad to be there and to meet them. Also let them know that they should expect to receive a preview of the article from you for their approval before it is published. Publishing meeting summaries without consulting the speakers can be a huge offence to some speakers or event organizers. Being courteous to them during your meeting will go a long way in creating a good impression which will facilitate your post event interactions with them. If you do not a copy of the slides that were presented, check with the organizers if you could have them. These will be valuable for you when writing the event summary.
After you are back at office, work on the event summary by carefully recalling everything that happened during the event. Your notes will be of great help if you wrote them well. Check if your company has any template for writing such summaries and use them as per instructions. Once you are done, submit it to your line manager or senior for a quick review, before you send it to the speakers for an approval. (We will discuss writing of the event highlights / event summary in more detail in future posts)
Upon obtaining approval from the speakers, submit the approval document and the event summary to your manager for publication.