PART I: “By Failing to Prepare, You are Preparing to Fail” – Benjamin Franklin
A Q&A with Greg Chittim, Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Business Development at Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, to discuss his plans for HIMSS15
When reciting this quote, I’m certain Benjamin Franklin was not a marketing executive balancing a multi-tiered budget that contains an event list growing as fast as the list of social channels in need of management. However, the quote can be applied in some way to just about any position within any industry, most fittingly the healthcare industry. The topic of today’s blog is focused on HIMSS15 and one marketer’s journey to greatness at this year’s event. This is something that I will revisit from a few different angles in upcoming posts given how important it is to prepare for an event of this magnitude and importance.
Image by http://www.himssconference.org/
As many of PRSpeak readers can attest to, in PR it is either feast or famine. The new business pipeline is either overflowing or in need of additional resources; reporters are either “not interested” or want to talk in the next five minutes as their deadline for a story they didn’t even know they were writing is suddenly due at 2 p.m. And right now, if you work in tech PR, you can feel the push and pull of the busy event season having just come off the CES and Mobile World Congress waves and diving right into HIMSS15, RSA and ad:tech. While there are always events to leverage and presence to be had, these events in particular hold a very special place in all of our hearts as they are the most notable in their respective industries, and anyone who is anyone will be in attendance.
We help our clients prepare each year, far in advance, to answer the same three questions:
- What can we do to increase our presence from last year’s event?
- How do we make meaningful noise at the event?
- How do we ensure that each reporter and influencer meets with us and writes a headline that will reflect the enormous spend for three days in booth-loving paradise?
Like many of our other healthcare clients preparing and attending HIMSS15, we are taking a look at our client Arcadia Healthcare Solutions’ journey as we help them tackle these important objectives. Having moved over the past few years from a national healthcare IT consultancy to an EHR data aggregations and analytics technology provider working with health plans and large health systems, Greg Chittim, Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Business Development at Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, outlines his journey to this year’s event in this two-part series.
Q &A with Greg Chittim.
How many years has Arcadia Healthcare Solutions been attending HIMSS?
We, or companies we have acquired, have been attending HIMSS for 10+ years. We've always had a small presence square footage-wise, but have made up for it by hustling – lots of intelligence gathering, press and analyst conversations, catching up with old clients and meeting with prospects. Pretty much everyone we work with in one capacity or another attends this event, so it is always critical to have at least some presence there, if not an extended cross-functional team.
How has the event changed over the years, in your opinion?
The obvious change is that it becomes increasingly huge every year. Just when you think it can’t get any bigger than the year before, it does. Last year, in Orlando, the hall was literally over a mile long. To prepare for Chicago, we studied the floor map extensively for clues but I know that it won’t matter because, once we show up, it’s going to dwarf last year’s event in scope and flash. Despite its ever-expanding size and the immense presence of organizations like Epic and Cerner, there are always companies that attend with a simple table top solely manned by the founder of the company and everyone seems to be having meaningful conversations when you pass by. While other events have become commoditized, HIMSS has stayed loyal to its roots in providing quality content and networking opportunities for providers, vendors and investors, which is definitely a secret to its success.
You have decided to increase the company’s investment in this year’s event with a new booth, creative and designated space – what did that entail and why the change?
HIMSS is the big brother to all healthcare conferences and our presence has always embodied an early aspect of our corporate culture, entrepreneurial scrappiness, for lack of a better word. However, as the company and our products continue to mature, so does our presence. This year we will highlight another key aspect of the business – our expertise and tenure in healthcare analytics, especially the use and importance of high-quality EHR data to drive population health outcomes. The more we work with investors, customers and prospects, the more we have been able to prove that we can agnostically work with any kind of healthcare data and use it effectively. This is a capability that is sorely lacking in the market, so our goal this year is to have our presence reflect exactly that and be known for providing this next level of precision and data.
There is also a humorous cliché about HIMSS that I have always enjoyed, deserved or not, and it’s that there is only one real way to make a splash – to not be there at all. While we’re not going that route this year, we hope our added investment will ensure that people know we’re here, we have a very clear message about our capabilities and that our presence exceeds or is on par with our key competitors. Tactically, we’ve gone from a 100 sq. ft. booth to a 600 sq. ft. space with the height and attention that goes along with that kind of investment. One of the key features that was important to us as we mapped out what our physical space would look like is a theater that will have the ability to showcase our tools and capabilities as well as analysis and results that we’ve been able to bring to our clients.
We’ve also designated private space; which is so critical, yet so difficult to find at events like this, all within our booth for guest lectures from our clients and more intimate meetings. It was also critical that we provided a lounge for folks who need to get away from the mile-long walks down the exhibit hall.
For part II of this Q&A, watch for it on PRSpeak tomorrow...