The morning after MedComms Day 2020

On 10 June 2020 we celebrated A Day in the Life of MedComms, supported by Media Contacts.

It felt like a very different affair this year, maybe reflecting the lockdown situation many of us are still in, as a result of COVID-19. So, no travel stories, or reports from international conferences and the like. Far fewer pictures of groups gathered together around home-made cakes! Plenty of talk of online video meetings and virtual activities.

Lots of people and organisations from across the global MedComms community still got involved one way or another, but it’s very difficult to see the overall picture without having a lot more resource than we have available here.

There were certainly fewer contributions to this blog site and the trend of recent years whereby most public activity happens across LinkedIn and social media continued.

There seemed to be significantly more activity on LinkedIn this year (how do you measure that?) and less on Twitter (see summary report below), using the hashtag #MedComms. Ohers like Facebook and Instagram, for instance, still didn’t see so much activity.

Overall, it was great to see the variety of activity being undertaken across the global community and, hopefully, everyone had some fun along the way. We certainly helped to spread the #MedComms word a little further!

What do you think? Let me know.

This is the ninth year we have undertaken this exercise. Please let me know if you think it’s still worthwhile.

I’d really appreciate hearing your comments and feedback either posted here or sent direct to me at peter@networkpharma.com

Many thanks to the many who participated and supported us, one way or another.

Cheers

Peter Llewellyn, NetworkPharma Ltd, founder of the global MedComms Networking Community and Curator of the Day in the Life of MedComms.

[View summary Tweetreach report for #MedComms 10 June 2020]

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And it’s goodnight from him…

I make no apologies for re-using my standard text below from previous years. I can’t see straight anymore! Goodnight, one and all.

I need some sleep and it does look like we’re finished here for the day. So I am calling a halt to our MedComms Day 2020. It’s been interesting but a lot of work again. Hopefully it’s provided a useful insight into the specialist business we call MedComms and been a bit of fun for everyone as well.

Please note, I’m very aware I now need to go back over some of the postings and tidy the content. Please feel free to email me at peter@networkpharma.com and point me at any errors that need fixing if you spot them before me.

I’d welcome comments and feedback so please do leave comments here or contact me directly. I am, as always, happy to chat anytime.

Meanwhile, please keep the conversations going on Twitter using hashtag #medcomms and join us at the MedComms Networking Facebook page and the MedComms Networking LinkedIn Group as well. Anyone working in or around MedComms is welcome to join in with the activities of the MedComms Networking Community.

Goodnight from us, wherever in the world you are now. I need a drink!

Cheers

Peter Llewellyn (and Ted)

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Finishing the day on the west coast of the USA

This is probably wrapping up our #MedComms Day 2020 activity… Tim Collinson from Fishawack Health has sent in his news from the west coast of the USA.

Hi everyone, happy #MedComms day… or evening for most of you at this point. The day here in California is well underway, with the string of early morning calls being the norm; a new norm is that previously camera-shy physicians, clients and colleagues have pulled that blob of gum off the camera lens and are now practically filmstars completely at ease with kitchen/bedroom backdrops, pets, children…  I work remotely anyway, and the uptick in face-to-face contact is a welcome shift (for me at least – not necessarily those subjected to my 7am face and wild social-isolation-hairstyle).  For this year’s #MedCommsDay, Fishawack is celebrating ‘Distance is no object!’. Today also brings our regular West Coasters’ virtual coffee break – nothing virtual about the coffee or the break, just 15 mins’ chitchat about nothing in particular among the Fishawack Pack in San Diego, up to Redding CA and a few places in between.  It’s a habit we’ll keep post-pandemic.  I’m wondering how interactions during next week’s ISMPP virtual annual meeting will go – I always look forward to seeing people at the live meeting but virtual is the next best thing. Maybe see some of you ‘there’… Stay healthy!

CA greetings

Chatting with Gabriel Hoppen, Medical Writer, W2O Science

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Gabriel Hoppen, Medical Writer, W2O Science

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I was looking for a scientific career outside the lab – I wanted to gain business awareness, and understand science closer to industry and healthcare.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The variety of therapy areas, pace of work and a little bit of unpredictability.

What’s the most challenging experience you have faced?

Tricky client deadlines – especially if they all stack up at once….Two ad boards and a series of training modules all due within a few weeks was fairly challenging, but situations like these are the best way to learn.

What’s the funniest memory and/or highlight of your career so far?

It’s a bit of a copout answer but in all honesty, day to day work at W2O Science answers both parts of the question. I’d especially like to use this opportunity to shout out my colleagues Rebecca and Kiran for being the funniest and providing daily hilarity.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Nicolas Cage – only he could do justice to the high-octane life of a medical writer.

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Check emails…prioritise tasks…often I like to work on one thing in the morning and something different in the afternoon, but other days when I’m in a different mood I like to do a solid 8hr single task. That’s a great part of medical writing, the opportunity for varied types of work.

 What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

Developing slides for different situations, events and audiences takes up most of my time, occasionally jumping on a client call to discuss all things content.

Thanks, Gabriel. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

MedComms Day reflections

David Jenkins has shared some end-of-day thoughts from the AXON team

At AXON, we find that MedComms day is a good time to reflect on the industry and the people we work with; a couple of our recent starters shared their experience so far, and some of the team offered their thoughts on the value medical communications brings to the healthcare community. The MedComms team got together for the obligatory Zoom lunch! #LifeAtAXON

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Thought for the day

This just in from Beatrice Ferri at AS&K Group

2020 hasn’t been the year any of us would have wished, but it has certainly shown the importance of accurate and clear communications about healthcare – and the value that medical communications as an industry brings to advancing scientific knowledge and medical practice. AS&K is proud to celebrate the professionalism of our industry. #MedCommsDay 2020

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Chatting with Jo Lyford, Freelance Medical Writer

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Jo Lyford, Freelance Medical Writer

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

My job manages to unite my two passions: medicine and writing. After finishing my degree in Medical Science & Pharmacology, I got a job in biomedical publishing, followed by a move to a med comms agency. After a short time in-house I went freelance – and that was ~20 years ago. I feel very fortunate that I can make a living doing something that I enjoy so much.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I love delivering a finished project – whether it’s a new detail aid, a slide kit, or reprint carrier – by the agreed deadline, feeling confident that I have met the brief and hopefully surpassed the client’s expectations in terms of quality and accuracy. When I receive feedback from the client confirming that – it’s ever better!

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

The most challenging aspect of my work is finding creative ways of delivering the client’s key messages without compromising accuracy and while always ensuring compliance with local medico-legal regulations. Other challenges include: (i) working on several different products at the same time, each with their own specific requirements in terms of messaging, “tone and feel”, branding, referencing etc; (ii) dealing with clients who change their minds often or are unclear about what they want; and (iii) reconciling several sets of comments on a material, some of which may be contradictory or incorrect.

What’s the funniest memory and/or highlight of your career so far?

Earlier this year I spent several days filming inside a large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, making a video to showcase the high quality of the product (an antibiotic). Seeing how a medicine is produced – from the raw materials to the finished tablets before being packaged and sent off for worldwide distribution – was absolutely fascinating.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

My daughter, as she looks like a miniature version of me.

What’s a typical day look like for you?

I have school-age children so I start early and finish early in order to collect them from school. I work from an office in my house. I start at 7am by checking my emails and prioritising my workload for the day. I am typically working on several materials at any one time, and they may all be at different stages – some will be new briefs, some will be in layout, and some may have come back from the client with comments. Most of my work has to be turned around quickly so I have to be efficient without sacrificing accuracy.

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

Writing and revising copy for a multitude of materials, such as: detail aids; leavepieces; reprint carriers; videos; interactive screens; marketing emails; web pages or entire websites; web banners; brochures; conference booth panels. I may also have calls with the client and be involved in discussing strategies for future projects.

Thanks, Jo. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

 

Stopping for a virtual lunchtime chat

This just in from freelancer, Fiona Weston

“In celebration of #MedComms Day, some of the Yorkshire MedComms group had a virtual lunchtime catch-up. We are all very much hoping it will not be long now until we can meet again in person. Note I am still wearing the MedComms hat!”

Also present were freelancers; Vicki Evans, Howard Donohue, Lisa O’Rourke and Jenny Smith

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Chatting with Corinne Swainger, Freelance Copy Writer

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Corinne Swainger, Freelance Copy Writer…

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

Like many MedComms professionals, I fell into the industry by ‘accident’. I’m originally from Devon but spent my teens in Florida. In American high school, I worked on the student newspaper, where we also had to lay out the printed articles by hand. I also loved to sketch people in my spare time.

When I started university, advertising copywriting seemed like an ideal subject to combine my creative and communications skills.

So, I pursued a BA in Mass Communications at the University of South Florida. This involved studying traditional advertising, PR, journalism, photojournalism, and economics. At that point, I had little interest in medical science.

What was your first job in healthcare communications?

As part of my BA degree, I was lucky enough to get a Summer internship at the communications department of a private Florida hospital. That gave me the chance to learn how to sell clinical services to a wide range of healthcare consumers.

When I returned to the UK after university, recruiters automatically classified me as a ‘junior medical writer’, although I’d never heard of the role. I started working at a small ethical healthcare advertising agency in St. Albans, Herts.  The staff taught me the ABPI Code of Practice, and I got a chance to help launch the first UK prescription drug for HIV.

It wasn’t until several years later that I completed a BSc in Life Sciences at the Open University. By that time, I had worked as a senior medical writer, editorial manager and PR account manager.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

 After 14 years a freelance writer, (now trading as MediQuill Ltd), I still enjoy the flexibility of dealing with different healthcare projects, rather than a limited number. Plus, I love the freedom to set my own hours, and work-life balance.

 What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

 Shortly after I began freelancing, one of my biggest challenges was deciding to remain independent or not. One month I could be juggling five new clients, while the next, I was twiddling my thumbs. I eventually conquered this challenge by deciding to specialise in certain areas, rather than trying to take on every new brief.

 What’s the highlight of your career so far?

 Over the past 20 years, I’ve volunteered for the Tuberous Sclerosis Association (TSA) ─ a rare disease charity  ─  to publicise a national adult support group. I’m also a former trustee of the charity. Today, I’m still involved in the TSA’s Research Review Committee as a lay member, and I recently chaired its first virtual meeting on Zoom, during the COVID-19 crisis.

 Who would play you in the movie of your life?

 Renée Zellweger because she reflects the changing roles you need to adopt to succeed as an independent healthcare writer in MedComms.

 What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

 My main daily focus tends to be updating clients about the progress of their projects. Around 50% of my time is spent on researching background resource and developing ideas for new briefs before I put pen to paper. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and try to dedicate some time to it on a regular basis. Overall, I’ve found it’s a valuable way to network with potential clients and other freelancers.

 Thanks, Corinne. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

Still to come today, yoga and more

The whole idea is that on #MedComms day there is no actual plan. All sorts of people working in and around MedComms get involved in many different ways. And do their own thing. Much of the activity will pass unreported but we collect a number of contributions here at MedCommsDay.com and you’ll find all sorts of activity over on Twitter and Linkedin and Instagram and elsewhere. Look for hashtag #MedComms.

We do, though, have some more special events coming up, which anyone can join in with:

SPECIAL EVENTS

Weekly MedComms Webinar
Learning and development at AMICULUM

Venue: Global
Date: 12.00 Midday UK time, 10 June 2020 (NOTE the time zone!)

In this webinar, which is being run on MedComms Day 2020, we’ll provide an insight into the learning journey of a new medical writer or account executive during their first 12 months at AMICULUM.

[Programme and registration details]

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Free online #MedComms Day Yoga session, brought to you by Envision Pharma Group and George Hazel Yoga!
At 14.00 UK time, 10 June 2020 (NOTE the time zone!)

[Simply turn up and join in on the day]

If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie Brown

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

MedComms Wookbook Huddle – open to all on MedComms Day 2020

Venue: Global
Date: 18.00 (wine o’clock) UK time, 10 June 2020 (NOTE the time zone!)

We’ll be online at 18.00 (wine o’clock) UK time for a drink and a chat, and today we’ll happily raise a glass to celebrate MedComms Day 2020 with whoever turns up. Everyone welcome. Any discussions will primarily focus on freelance life in and around MedComms, but it will be very informal and we welcome all comers to join us. Nobody will mind if you have a toddler on your knees or a dog cuddling up close. Within reason! Please join us.

[Programme and registration details]

Chatting with Beverley Swain, Freelance Medical Writer

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Freelance Medical Writer, Beverley Swain

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I fell into MedEd by accident. After working for a Pharma company for 10 years in research information and then intellectual property information, I moved to a company supplying information and data to Pharma companies. After an unhappy move to another such company, I quit intending to look for another full-time job, but freelancing while looking. In a happy accident, a former colleague gave my name as a referee to someone in a MedEd company who just happened to be a school friend that I’d lost touch with. That’s how my freelance MedEd career started – thanks to my old friend Krys. And I’ve never looked back – or for that permanent job.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Providing a client with the best possible, scientifically accurate output and preferably getting it ‘right first time’. I’m pretty good at cutting word counts. I was once presented with a draft peer-review article that was over 7000 words, the target journal maximum word count was 2500. That’s when I got the nickname Bev ‘slash and burn’ Swain!

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Explaining to clients that they can’t say what they want, either because the science doesn’t back it up or because it’s against guidelines. Sometimes it’s just plain wrong!

What’s the funniest memory and/or highlight of your career so far?

I can’t recall a single highlight, although there are a few projects I’m quite proud of. One of the funniest times was working with Krys on a White paper that had been written and edited by several different people. Krys had taken it on and asked me to help her with it. What a nightmare. The references didn’t match the statements in the paper and it took ages to sort them out. The Agency had asked for and received permission to reproduce a figure from a journal article, but the figure wasn’t in the article. I read that article at least five times getting more confused each time and then we had to find where the figure came from. The only thing that kept us going was laughing so much at how the project had got into such a state. Marking up the paper and references also had us in stitches. In parts, it read like a ransom note. Later, we heard that the Pharma company had said it was best marked-up paper they’d ever had!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Well, obviously someone amazingly glamourous and intelligent. Once when out with colleagues we were discussing this and the general consensus was that Alison Steadman should play me.

What would your key tasks in a typical working day be?

Key tasks are switching on the computer and making lots of cups of coffee.

Thanks, Beverley. Have a great #MedComms Day!