Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Breaking In to Conference Coverage

> Hello,
> I stumbled onto your blog today and appreciate the resource. I am a
> medical writer who currently writes lots of abstracts and posters and
> I'd like to break into conference coverage, particularly in the areas
> of [redacted].
> I've previously done some conference coverage at [redacted]. Do you have any
> suggestions for how to go about this? Which outlets are best for a
> newby, etc?
> I've heard starting out, companies don't usually pay travel--but will
> they pay conference registration fees?
> Thank you for your time,
> [redacted]


I'm happy you're finding my blog useful. If I could get off my duff and
update it more than once a month it would be more useful still.

If I were trying to break into conference coverage, I would focus on
medical trade papers and other resources for physicians (such as rather than general interest publications. Many of the
medical trades use freelancers, especially when the freelancer is local
to the conference and so wouldn't need to travel. I don't know how many
conferences are in [your city], but you may want to consider which other
cities are a doable commute for you. Then find out what the upcoming
conferences are
and contact the trade papers you've decided to target.

You're right that most of these companies won't pay travel expenses for
someone just starting out, but as you become more of a known quantity,
it's legitimate to expect that they would pay for your travel. And
conference registration fees are rarely an issue. Reporters on
assignment routinely receive complementary registration, especially when
they have an assignment letter and have contacted the conference
sponsors in advance.

Please feel free to contact me with additional questions.


That goes for the rest of you as well. I'm happy to answer questions from new and aspiring medical and science writers.


R. Franklin said...

I, too, would like to thank you for your blog. I'm an old reporter who's gone through many editorial permutations and began covering Colorado biotech and medical device companies for a technical newspaper in Denver in 2001. Unfortunately it folded 16 months later due the the tech recession, but I was able to use the experience as a springboard to an AMWA certificate and some real medical writing (surgical ghostwriting and literature reviews for medical device companies). Now, I hope to break into conference coverage.

I started signing up for events as a reporter back in 1979 and I don't think the process is any different for someone who is entering the conference circuit. Get your press pass, solicit two or three clients, and go to the event.

One idea is to contact your local first-tier events center for upcoming medical meetings. They call keep a list.


Roueche said...


Thanks for writing. This is Bob Finn, the formerly anonymous author of the Medical Conference Blog. If you're interested in meeting coverage, you may want to attend a workshop I'm moderating at the National Association of Science Writers meeting in New Haven, CT on Nov 6. It's called "How to Cover a Medical Conference: Tips from the Pros." Panelists will include Peggy Peck (MedPage Today), Jim Sliwa (Amer. Soc. of Microbiology), and Ed Susman (freelance) in addition to myself (SF Bureau Chief for the International Medical News Group). You'll find information on that workshop and the rest of the meeting at as it becomes available. You may also wish to consider joining NASW. If you'd like to contact me directly, my email is

Best wishes,


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