We love content because our customers love content. She watches a video and the view count goes up. He likes a story and the heart fills in.

The content they love stems from live events. Think about it in basketball terms:

Game →Story about the game. →Podcast player interview. →Video strategy analysis. →Social media preview. →Next game.

More media means more marketing.

COVID-19 paused our lives—and our live events. Events are being canceled or going virtual. In the immediate wake of the novel coronavirus, we even saw “zombie conferences.” An event runs but no one shows up.

We can’t put logos on lanyards. So, we have to cozy up to the content. Which leads to the question, “What happens to content in the time of Corona?”


In pastry terms, an event is the Munchkin. Media’s delicious, doughy center. You want the whole donut. They’re a lot bigger and can carry more frosting to your hungry consumers. If you’re in marketing, read that like, “…more media to carry ads to your customers.”

Here is why you don’t have to worry:

  • There’s lots of content still coming out.
  • Tech can fuse multiple, related media types and sources into a synthetic event.
  • Synthetic events deliver and curate content, so they’re ideal for home audiences.
  • Bonus: Your synthetic event is chock-full of data.

Lots of Content is Still Coming Out

Content didn’t stop when the NBA canceled the season. In fact, the day after the league canceled the season, we logged 720 stories from 430 unique sources. And, that was just in between 1:30 pm and 2 pm.

This isn’t NBA360. Did stories keep coming in the days following the first medical meeting cancelations? Good question. And, yes.

We track stories, videos, and other content in thousands of medical communities. Across them all, more content is being created and shared now than at the beginning of the year. The most recent weekly data is up about 4% versus content levels in January.

Now, that makes sense. We’re all home. We crave more content. If you’re like me, you’ve reached the end of Netflix. At the same time, we want outlets for our creativity. So, we tweet more random thoughts. We post pics of our baking to Instagram. We take a dance class on Zoom—Zoomba? More content and more consumption.

People and processes are set to align with dates for big events on the calendar. The Super Bowl. Baseball’s opening day. Doctors plan to be in Chicago for events like ASCO. Researchers and brands wait all year to present their findings.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) runs in late March every year. Our data showed that kidney-related content—stories and videos—more than doubled when the NKF started on March 26th. For a brand that’s keen to a get its nephrology message out, that’s a big deal. And, a heartening one.

Tech Can Fuse Content into a “Synthetic” Event

The hashtag turns 13 this August. Mazel Tov.

Before the hashtag, people just tweeted stuff. That made it hard to find common threads. Smartly, medical societies got their communities to use common tags. HCPs were quick to adopt social media. So, we have seen hashtag use grow exponentially in all specialties over the last several years.

The American College of Cardiology (ACC), huddles around #ACC and the two-digit year. In 2017, there were more than 50,000 tweets with #ACC17. More than 1,200 of those posts linked to a paper, abstract, or news.

This year, ACC went virtual. The moment was lost. And, so too was hashtag use. Only 12,000 tweets had #ACC20. That’s down more than 70%.

The links between content and audience are broken. Here is an example. Dr. Deepak Bhatt is a famed cardiologist with more than 12k Twitter followers. He tweeted a slide about the COMPASS trial to Twitter without any hashtag. Despite his stature and the data’s import, his tweet got nine likes.

Our audiences are left to find their own content. That’s bad for doctors, bad for patients, and bad for brands. Smart tech needs to know you want ACC and put Dr. Bhatt’s slide in front of you. Where can we look for a solution?

Google “Kim Kardashian.”

You’ll see stories about her. Her recent social media posts. Blurbs about who is she and why she’s famous. Google’s smart tech synthesizes a variety of content into a pop up media moment. It’s like a microsite created on the fly and the perfect place for ads. A “synthetic” event.

What if you could do that to replace a moment such as NFK or ACC? Use accounts, publishers, trials, brands, and (of course) lots of hashtags to pop up an event. Your brand can run messages around a “synth” you define with maximum share of voice.

Ok, so you’ve added synthetic to your event media planning lexicon. The nice thing about a synth event is you can cross multiple events.

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a theme. Content for T2D comes from the ACC and the NKF. The COMPASS trial touched on the topic at ACC. Content from the NKF veered into T2D as well. Instead of working with one event, your T2D synthetic event could blend content from multiple events.

Novel Solutions for the Big, Active Home Audience

The home audience is “much broader and just as active.” That comes from a prescient tweet from Stan Woodland 18 months ago. Mr. Woodland is CEO and Founder of the media agency, CMI. Today, every audience is a home audience.

Not going out transcends healthcare. And, it’s not just a now thing. How do you reach a person at home? Rip a page from the Amazon playbook—or, if you prefer the Dominos app. You deliver.

Again, it’s not just me. Take it from Dr. H. Jack West, “I personally enjoy relaying all the information to people who can’t make it.” Dr. West is an oncologist at City of Hope and the Web Editor of JAMA Oncology. In that way, Dr. West is like Amazon. He delivers.

We all have a role to play right now. Anheuser-Busch is making hand sanitizer instead of beer. Zara is making masks. GM is making ventilators. Certainly, we can find ways to use our media in new ways to help the doctors, patients, and brands that we serve.

Doug Weinbrenner gives us a target. He is the Senior Vice President of Engagement Strategy at the agency BGB. “As stewards of healthcare media, we all have a role to play. It’s time for pharma brands to become physician-centric. This will entail reimagining or even abandoning relationship marketing efforts that are more comfortable for brands than valuable for physicians. Now, more than ever, is the time to peel away the fading layers of bygone marketing channels and events to reveal broader brand promises.”

It’s time to think for healthcare media to think big. Not just because it makes us sound cool. But, because the doctors we serve can’t get to meetings. In the days between the time NFK was canceled, we popped up a synthetic event. We mashed up 20,000 conversations about kidney and related content into a synthetic media event. More than 3,000 HCPs used it to get new data. That helps patients. Our synthetic event was a novel solution to a novel problem.

Bonus: Your Synthetic Event is Chock-Full of Data

Your synthetic event runs on data. It needs to know who’s saying things, what they’re saying, and what sources they trust. In short, all the things that a modern brand wants to know.

More than getting breaking news to the people who use it smartly. More than giving us new room to tell our brand’s story. We all get the data we need to figure out what our audiences actually want.

Sure, that’s a boon for a brand. But, think about an association such as ACC or NKF. They can use the data from a synthetic event to figure out how to make future in-person events even more worthwhile.

COVID-19 is causing us to re-write our love story with media’s big, doughy center. Conferences will always matter. But, we are beginning to see new ways we can create value and leverage it.

It’s tough right now. Think positive. Stay healthy.

  • Charles Benaiah

    Charles Benaiah is the Chief Executive Officer of Watzan and a PM360 ELITE Entrepreneur. He spends his days running Watzan and thinking about ways to use technology to connect media, doctors, and brands.