Turkish Delights – Adventures from an Advisory Board

Róisín O’Connor, Senior Medial Writer, Katerina Tuloo, Account Manager and Mark Davies, Scientific Services Director all of inScience Communications reflect on a successful day in Turkey.

Early start today! Up at 7am to grab a quick continental breakfast in the hotel, before we meet and greet the attendees of an advisory board held in the beautiful, East-meets-West city of Istanbul.

Our team of three arrived here yesterday afternoon, ahead of the final slide preview with the client, meeting Chair and speakers. After a good discussion, and a few final tweaks to the slide content, we opted for an early night ahead of the main event today.

So at 8.15am, with our stomachs full of strong Turkish coffee and baklava, we invite all attendees to take their seats at the table. Following the obligatory round-the-table introductions, the meeting soon begins in earnest, with presentations from the Co-Chairs setting the scene and outlining the objectives and input required from the international medical experts gathered together in the room today to make this a successful and productive meeting.

Open Round Table Discussion sessions throughout the day facilitate the exchange of valuable information and lead to some interesting, lively debates and differences of opinion between experts –all very professional and civilised of course!
Mark, as Scientific Services Director, moderated these sessions, ensuring that each of the meeting objectives are addressed, with the use of a nifty digital mind-mapping tool which captures, organises and projects key outputs onto the meeting room screen in real time as the experts debate and discuss.

As Editorial Team Lead, Róisín takes detailed notes on the discussions, which will subsequently provide the content for a comprehensive report for the client on the views, attitudes and advice provided by the experts.

With the meeting drawing to a close, we start to relax and reflect on how smoothly the day has gone… then of course, disaster strikes! Outside of the meeting room, Katerina learns that a traffic jam in the east of the city will almost certainly prevent one of the experts from arriving at the train station in time for the last train home.

Of course, Katerina, as Account Manager, springs into action, investigating alternative transport options, and quickly ascertained that a water taxi should be able to take the attendee across the Bosphorus strait, from Europe to Asia, and drop passengers off just a few minutes’ walk from the train platform. Phew. Crisis averted!

With the one attendee sailing into the sunset, and the others safely dispatched in cars to the airport, the three of us sit down for a quick debrief with a very satisfied client, to discuss deliverables, timings and next steps.

Finally, it’s time to relax – we’re off to sample some of the delights of Istanbul, tired, but with a sense of achievement for a job well done. Onwards to the next meeting – now, where is that nice kebab restaurant we passed by on the way in from the airport…


Another 12-14 hour day

Lisa Sullivan of In Vivo Communications writes in from Sydney, Australia, with a long day still ahead of her.

So to give you all an idea of my day in medcomms. Started with a TC at 6.30am Sydney time today due to my now being President of GAME (the Global Alliance of Medical Education). This was our monthly Board Executive call and is an hour long. Following this I have communicated with several associates in the medcomms space asking for help in forthcoming GAME activities (specifically around the European CME Forum this year).

Now that I am at my desk (after throwing down coffee and a pear for breakfast) I now gear up for development of 2 proposals due by tomorrow, a budget being asked for by my finance controller (our financial year ends June 30th so it is hell at this time of year) and then working on a new credentials presentation for a huge client meeting on Monday 22nd June in Singapore. It will be a 12 to 14 hour day for me today which is rather toooo normal.

After 25 + years in this business I do wonder where it all went…

Lisa photo Aug 2013

Ending the day with reflections from Darwin Healthcare Communications and a ‘selfie’!

Frances O’Connor writes in from Darwin Healthcare Communications to say she’s been collating photos and anecdotes today…

So it’s been a busy day as usual (isn’t it always!) for the Darwin team.

Phil, Kate and I were at two different pitches in Munich and Paris yesterday, back in late, and yet we were up and on the road to our Oxford office around 6.30 AM this morning! As a team, we’ve had a lot going on today. Here are photos from our leadership team meeting this morning – it looks like Kate didn’t find whatever it was as funny as Phil did!





Claire Pouwels has sent me an update from EULAR where she is organising speaker slide reviews for a satellite symposium and running interviews with the faculty – lights, camera, action! She also reports a trip to the bowels of the conference centre in order to retrieve a poster. Exciting stuff. Lindsay Napier updates that today isn’t one of the most interesting but that she’s working on a poster, an oral presentation and a manuscript resubmission all with tight deadlines.

Emilie Violette has called in to give me some feedback, multitasking while at EULAR. Cleo Hall is working on an animal health publication plan and an animation (on the same day but not quite at the same time) and David Hallett is scoping out a QoL Cancer day for another client.

As with many of the other company updates today, we don’t just work hard but also like to play hard. Yesterday, the Oxford office had a meeting of their cake club and today, we’ve had a meeting to discuss our Summer social plans. The boys in the London office have also sent me a photo of their USA decorated pod (each pod was given a different country playing in the World Cup – apologies to my American colleagues at Phase V!).



I’m sitting back at home now finishing off a few emails and reviewing a couple of agendas, looking forward to tomorrow as Thursday night is bar night at London HQ!

Here’s a ‘selfie’ of me on an earlier TC, to end with!



Pubs strategy in the wilderness, anyone?

Jackie Marchington of Caudex Medical sends this from a secret location…

I am putting the lie to the manic #medcomms hashtag by taking advantage of the middle-of-the-wilderness hotel I’ve ended up at this trip. I’ve spent the morning in publication planning strategy meetings and an author call, working out of our clients’ offices and now I’m back in my hotel working outdoors for a while, appreciating the weather, the scenery and the smell of freshly cut grass.

Four hours of pubs strategy is enough to wear anyone out, but it was a really interactive and productive meeting, so roll on 2015. I’m currently updating some training materials for our three bright new shiny trainee writers who started with us last week, and a company-wide copyright licensing update/reminder for tomorrow afternoon.

Between then and now, I have another couple of hours planning congress activities tomorrow morning, along with our friendly rival agency, who works on the same account with us.

I must admit that my feelings of extreme hostility towards this hotel I had last night when the taxi driver from the airport couldn’t find it (perhaps if he’d been driving more slowly he might have done better…) have mellowed considerably now that I can appreciate the setting. It’s a bit more touristy retreat-like than the usual hotel chains us poor MedComms folks usually end up in.

Oh well, I’d better get on with it…



A Day in the Life of Medical Communications in the Asia-Pacific Region

Karen Woolley of ProScribe Medical Communications has been logging her work today in Australia…

Here’s the plan for today and, given the good fortune associated with the number 8, let’s start with 8 am.*

· 8:00 am – Scan over my “to do” list; yes, everything from last night is still there…just begging to be crossed off.

· 8:05 – 9:00 am – Review email- and website-delivered client requests and updates that have zipped halfway across the world while we in the Asia-Pacific region were sleeping (or eating or exercising or…whatever…); check Twitter; ignore Facebook requests.

· 9:00 am – Check surf conditions (tide and time wait for no man or woman…low tide this afternoon…tempting!). I love the flexibility associated with a medical writing career.

· 9:01 am – 9:30 am – Tricky situation…procurement staff in China affiliate of a major international pharmaceutical company want medical writing services, but they appear to be asking for ghostwriting services. Given the risk of miscommunication, the worst thing to do would be to make too many assumptions and cause procurement staff a loss of face (mianzi)…’tis time to work on a culturally sensitive and GPP2-compliant response. As it is a holiday in China today (Dragon Boat Festival), we have time to review our response with a number of our senior staff who have many years of navigating their way successfully through delicate GPP2 situations in the Asia-Pacific region.

· 9:30 am – 10:00 am – Follow-up on a few items from chairing a session at last week’s ARCS conference in Sydney…900 people in attendance, including regulators, academics, medical journal editors, industry, and CRO staff. Check updates to News items on the Global Alliance of Publication Professionals website (yippee – more publications accepted!).

· 10:00 am – 11:30 am – Work with contracts and resources team to prepare and review proposals for long-term and new clients in the Asia-Pacific region. The projects are of great interest in terms of document type and therapeutic area, but budgets in this region, particularly in some countries, are exceptionally tight. Arguably, this is the region most in need of experienced and ethical writers, but also the region least likely to be able to afford them. Various service and pricing options are debated (and MSAs re-checked!). Giving clients what they need and what they can afford can be two very different things. What would our contracts colleagues do though without the opportunity to work on these challenges?

· 11:30 am – 11:45 am – Cup of tea (English Breakfast – seems quite apt given the origin of this Day in the Life initiative). Take a quick squiz at the Day in the Life website and post a comment. Get some sleep Peter! Send off a few quick emails…

· 11:45 am – 1:00 pm – Continue on with project briefs, resourcing discussions, and proposal tasks…take a couple of calls from clients too. I see a few more enquiries coming through from the region via our website…referrals (and guanxi) do wonders in this region. You need a strong and wide network of happy clients, particularly given the high turnover of staff at some companies (a turnover of 40-60% is not unusual…).

· 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Time for lunch. As we are in the middle of our winter (23ºC – that’s a bit chilly for us), something warm is required – bring on a spicy laksa soup! Review poll results and feedback from ISMPP re. the recent ISMPP Asia-Pacific webinar…very happy J.

· 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm – Chat with staff who are located in different cities in the region…some staff will be visiting the US soon, others have just returned from the US, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea. There is always project news (& travel tips) to share. You can tell a lot about a country from its taxi drivers.

· 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Upload information into our Client Relationship Management tool and scoot around the ProScribe intranet site to look over a couple of SOPs relevant to an upcoming project.

· 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm – The tide is good, but the swell is a little small (screenshot from 5:15 pm below); it may pick up tomorrow (so says many an optimistic surfer!). As the day ends, it is time to review and edit the almighty “to do” list and enjoy (possibly far too much) crossing few items off this list.

* My day started much earlier with a punishing run on the beach – 20 of us are training for a ridiculous Tough Mudder obstacle course / half-marathon event designed by British SAS officers.  Gotta love the Brits – even if they still try to punish those of us who live in the colonies!


Some of us are working in the UK too!

This contribution is just in, shortly after midnight from Dave Andrews of Meridian HealthComms based in the North West of the UK.

I would like to submit a high (or low depending on your view of the work-life balance). But I can honestly say that a highlight of working in MedComms is being able to take a laptop home, work from your kitchen table all night, whilst having a sneaky G&T and getting kudos from your client by getting a bespoke presentation to them on a subject neither of you really understand, before the deadline (barely). Knowing that they appreciate your efforts, even though the slides will probably change 5 times and 90% of your effort discarded or put in backups – doesn’t matter – we care, that’s why we are here!