Attention vendors: Are you meeting with reporters during HIMSS12? Here are some tips to make the meeting more meaningful for you and the reporter. Translation: Here's how to get free ink out of the meeting.

Health Data Management is accepting meeting requests during the first half of January, so get your requests in to Greg Gillespie as quickly as possible because we’ll fill up fast. It could be a while until we respond as we put together our schedules. It’s also a good idea to check now with other publications on when they will be accepting requests.

Bring any announcements being made at the show to the meeting on disk and paper. Don't give us five releases and an inch-thick media kit; give us the one release with the biggest news. Some reporters prefer paper at conventions because they can read the release, ask questions, scrawl answers on the release, then pull it out at their first opportunity and write a quick news bulletin. Reporters get hundreds of e-mails each day during the show, so don't expect them to hunt for your release in their inbox. The only e-mails we are opening are about HUGE news, or from colleagues, bosses or family members. And, reporters simply won't have time to go to your Web site to get news you didn't bother to bring to the meeting.

Don't just send your marketing manager to talk to a reporter. We already know you are having a GREAT year, your product is the best and your competitors stink. We'd like real insight from folks in the trenches about industry trends and issues, and what the company is doing to position itself for the future.
Bringing a customer to the meeting to talk about a pressing issue that your product is helping them handle is always a bonus for coverage. Reporters may well have questions of their own for the customer, such as their readiness, plans and concerns about complying with regulatory mandates.

Know who you are talking to and their areas of expertise. I, for instance, don't need a primer on HITECH and colleague Gary Baldwin doesn't need a 10-minute lecture on ICD-10--that's just taking time away from your news. Tell each reporter something they may not know. And if a reporter is going to pick your brain for information, it's OK to pick their brain for information.

Some reporters like to have all of their meetings in the press room, others like to stay on the exhibit floor. Try to accommodate their preference; they just don't the time to walk between the two venues, or even to a hospitality room, for their next meeting. Even if your booth is tiny, it's a better spot to talk than spending half the meeting time finding an empty table in the back of the hall.

If you can't explain in 30 seconds what your product does without ANY marketing buzzwords, and in plain English your mom, sibling or neighbor would understand, I can't explain it either. And please don't explain for 15 minutes why all of your competitors are clearinghouses but you aren't and you'd like to be called something else.

And it's OK to tell reporters what you like and don't like about their publications--we and our superiors need to hear that. We may push back with an explanation of why we do things the way we do, but your views will be heard and considered.

Joe Goedert is news editor of Health Data Management.

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