David Roberts, a public health registrar with Cochrane UK, recently helped with a Cochrane stand at a Public Health conference. Here he shares a bit about the experience and gives tips for other groups sharing Cochrane Evidence.
The Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference was held in June in Brigton, East Sussex, UK. Representatives of Cochrane UK attended as exhibitors on both days of the conference with the aim of raising awareness and knowledge of evidence-based decision-making and systematic reviews, and to enable understanding and dissemination of Cochrane evidence. It was also an opportunity to test out different engagement methods that we could build upon in the future.
We spent several weeks planning for this conference and learnt a lot before, during, and after the event;we hope that these lessons will improve the impact of our future conferences and the Cochrane community can benefit too.
Before the conference:
- Know who is likely to attend: list out the stakeholders who are likely to be there and think about how to engage with them. The general public will require different strategies than a specialized group –knowing what mix you can expect beforehand can help with your planning!
- Get the right people: Ensure that your stand is continually manned with people that will work well for the audience you are trying to reach. Given the nature of the conference’s focus and the likely attendees, we decided to have a public health registrar, a retired General Practitioner experienced in pubic engagement, and a public health consultant at the stand.
- Get some help: You can contact Cochrane to discuss your event, get clarification on Cochrane event policies, or help with event branding such as special banners, flyers or branded items to give away.
- Print it out: Have handouts of relevant blogshots or perhaps a flyer about your Cochrane group with your web address. At the very least, when attending a conference have your business cards handy! Templates for conference posters, flyers, business cards, and more in your Cochrane group’s colour are here!
- Create a buzz: Find out the conference’s hashtag and let everyone know you are going to be there! Announce it on your website site, social media accounts, and in your newsletter. We created a ‘virtual conference stand’ with all our information on one page of our website to increase our reach beyond the conference.
At the conference:
- Freebies: Everyone loves something free! We found the cochrane UK pens and notepads to be the most popular.
- Sign-up: We had our MailChimp signup on an iPad so people could sign up immediately to our newsletter if they wanted.
- Quiz time: We made a quiz called ‘Are you making good everyday health choices’ for free with Qzzr and had it on an iPad. It was a great way to have attendees engage with Cochrane Evidence and we could share it further through social media.
- Give a presentation: We had a rolling ‘blogshot’ slideshow on a large screen; this drew people to the stand. I also contacted the committee arranging the conference to arrange to give a short presentation to other public health registrars (health professionals training in public health) about how to get involved with Cochrane UK.
- Get digital: Use the conference hashtag and let people know about presentations at your booth. Take lots of pictures and share them on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook. Use photo opportunities with other organizations and their stands (and their hashtag and therefore their followers) to increase your reach to a new audience.
After the conference:
- Check your metrics: How many retweets? How many newsletter signups? Check your numbers to see if you made an impact. Our 19 twitter posts got retweeted 31 times and lead to 29,083 twitter impressions!
- Write about your experience: Share your experience in a blog post on your Cochrane website or as a guest writer on a related topic to the blog. Including your experiences at conferences and related metrics are also great to include in Annual Reports to your funders.
So much work goes into writing and disseminating Cochrane Reviews. It’s very rewarding attending a conference and sharing Cochrane evidence directly with the people that use it or are affected by it. We leanrt a lot planning for and attending this conference, and hope these tips will help you make the most of your next conference too!
Public health registrar