Industry Content & Media

Building Community With Pearls

Author: Rhonda Wickham       

At its heart, your annual meeting is designed to bring your attendees together for learning, networking, and community-building. You can offer all three by seeking out and publishing pearls from your attendees.

A pearl (particularly effective aid for real life) is a trick of the trade, shortcut, or special learning by one of your members shared with other members to help them navigate the same career challenge and save them time. No matter the specialty of your meeting, most of your attendees have pearls. And other attendees will appreciate hearing their pearls and sharing their own.

You can share them through your onsite publications, tweets, or mobile apps, or all three. Your attendees will enjoy seeing other attendees’ names and faces in print, making the meeting feel more friendly and engaging.

We executed our first campaign of pearls for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 2018 Meeting Daily. As we interviewed speakers for the main articles, we asked them to share any pearls of wisdom they had unearthed during their careers. The dermatologists were eager to share their tricks of the trade. They ranged from practice-management tips to clinical procedure shortcuts to favored technology. We published a pearl every few pages of all three days of the print daily as well as located them in a central location on the meeting website.

AAD 2018 Pearl Highlight

For publication, they provide a terrific nugget with which to accent the pages. They will pull the readers through your publication as they seek the next great tip.

It also provides a great talking point to add to your meeting. During an AAD educational session, midway through his presentation, one of the speakers paused and said he wanted to offer two pearls from his own career. He hadn’t contributed his own pearls in print but had apparently been inspired by reading others’ pearls.

If you plan to offer pearls at your meeting, here are our “pearls” based on our experience in collecting them.

  • If it is significant or life-changing for one person, it is likely useful for others. It doesn’t have to be a Ph.D.-level concept to be useful to others. It could be as simple as a wonderful smartphone or scheduling app that is perfect for your specialty, practice management, or day-to-day work.
  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Gather as many pearls as you can.
  • Encourage your presenters to offer their own pearls during their onsite live presentations.
  • If you publish the pearls throughout your daily, provide a headshot, name, and title. It connects your attendees and provides a conversation starter.

Rhonda Wickham is vice president of content for Ascend Media, ascendmedia.com.

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