How FIGO Built Buzz for Rio Event

Author: Lane Nieset       

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) drew 11,000 delegates to Brazil for its World Congress in October — its largest gathering to date. A multi-language campaign, other new initiatives, and a catchy, trending hashtag — #EveryWomanMatters — were among the keys to what made this conference focusing on women’s health one of the U.K.-based organization’s most successful.

Held in Rio de Janeiro, the 2018 conference was the first to take place in Latin America in 15 years. Sessions sparked debate on such topics as high rates of caesarean sections and overall family planning initiatives, which are seen as crucial to achieving United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“How a country prioritises women’s health demonstrates how that country sees its future,” FIGO Chief Executive Johan Vos said in a statement. “The ambition defined in the specific SDGs health targets (reflects) the urgency of the work at hand for everyone.”

To create a buzz around the event, FIGO — a global organization that comprises 130 national societies —used a series of tactics to increase abstract submissions and registrations. According to Vos, FIGO designed initiatives that targeted three main areas: communication, education, and partnerships. A popular feature at the event were the new “Hello Doctors” sessions, 15-minute speeches where women shared personal accounts or stories on health or women’s rights issues. “Never in the history of FIGO have we seen session rooms with so many attendees,” Vos told MCI’s Focus. “The rooms were full, and the audience gave a standing ovation for every ‘Hello Doctors’ speaker.”

In terms of partnerships, FIGO offered support to member societies in the form of free registration for presidents, free exhibition stands, and reduced group registrations. A three-language digital campaign in English, Spanish, and Portuguese helped boost sponsorship revenues by 25 percent and registration numbers by 20 percent (up 3,000 participants from the average 8,000 attendees).

The #EveryWomanMatters hashtag that was part of the digital campaign was said to play a big role in growing conference attendance, promoting awareness of women’s health, and driving the discussion on advancements in science, public health, and policy.

“We see physicians and other related health-care professionals as key stakeholders for women’s health and rights, and we want FIGO to be the global voice for women’s health,” Vos said. “The popular hashtag contributed to reaching a community of almost 175,000 Facebook followers and has increased our Google search by 301 percent.”