NATIONAL in Action at the ASCO Annual Meeting

Posted Thursday, June 15, 2017

Haydn LiangCandice BrutonTenney Loweth


    Behind-the-scenes of the Toronto ASCO monitoring team (clockwise from top left): Jay Virani, Candice Bruton, Tenney Loweth and Haydn Liang.

As anyone who works in a cancer-related field will know, the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting, ASCO for short, is the place to be for news about cutting-edge research. It is also where former U.S. Vice-President, Joe Biden, gave his famous ‘Cancer Moonshot’ speech in 2016.

Every year, tens of thousands of people descend on Chicago for this 5-day event. This year’s ASCO is no exception – attracting close to 40,000 attendees from all over the world. Most of those in attendance are healthcare professionals, but you’ll also find patient activists and adventurous investors in the mix.

Trending topics included combination immunotherapies and CAR-T cells. The interest in combination immunotherapies was expected, and we think it will only grow when #ASCO18 comes around. As for CAR-T cells, early studies have shown promise. However, at least one outlet has pointed out potential challenges with getting them to patients. Stay tuned to see how these treatment classes mature over the next few years.

From a communications perspective, we are tasked with taking a pulse of the news flow from ASCO to ensure our clients are informed of all relevant announcements in real-time. And when 17,139 Twitter users generate more than 92,000 tweets over the course of what is essentially an extra-long weekend, the team gets a rare opportunity to bond outside of the daily hustle and bustle that is the agency life.

The impressive scope and scale of ASCO and our role in staying updated on all the releases is a great opportunity to learn more about the field of oncology. Researchers and physicians present new and exciting trial results and treatment options, and seeing the reaction (mainly through social media) from reporters and patient groups is an interesting way to see how these changes are made and brought to patients.

Over the course of the weekend, the team diligently monitored traditional and social media announcements and coverage coming out of the conference, providing real-time updates and reports to clients on the ‘big news’ of the day. We also provided off-site support to our clients and colleagues on the ground, developing media/reporter backgrounders for interviews and conducting research for the on-site team. With music keeping energy levels high and lots of snacks to sustain us in the office, the team had a great time.