Steven Cutbirth Steven Cutbirth 
Agencies and brands are in an excellent position to bring together partners across industries to foster collaboration and open up new opportunities for all stakeholders involved. Hosting a summit with the right audience can encourage cross-industry dialogue, drive excitement and establish your company as a leading connecter among influencers and influential brands.

O'Dwyer's October '16 Healthcare & Medical PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Oct. '16 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine

Specifically, using social analytics and strategic relationships to identify the right attendees will ensure yours is a must attend event for the influencers and brands that matter. Cross-industry summits are the best way to activate influencers on social media, align your brand with their audiences and grow your reputation with the individuals that matter most to your business. W2O Group learned first-hand how beneficial this approach can be while organizing and launching the inaugural Digital Summit for a large regional integrated healthcare system in Texas.

Digital Summit, a case study

The Digital Summit was conceived by the healthcare system’s digital team with two main purposes in mind. The first was to bring together key influencers across multiple industries to encourage dialogue and gain momentum for innovative approaches to healthcare’s numerous issues. The second was to facilitate pitch sessions for 10-15 health startups from across the U.S. to pitch for the chance to win an accelerated path to a pilot within the healthcare system.

In order to pull this off, the healthcare system’s chief digital officer and his team approached W2O Group with the idea of holding an innovation-focused event to spread excitement about digital health initiatives within the organization and to identify possible industry partners. W2O Group loved the idea and signed on in full force, using our relationships and expertise in convening conversations to bring together key stakeholders in the health ecosystem.

As we approached brands to participate in the summit, we kept getting the same response: “Wow, a healthcare system is putting this on? Yes, I would love to be involved.” People were impressed that a healthcare system was taking the lead to bring influential voices from multiple industries together. Quickly the list of companies involved grew to include executives from well-known technology brands like IBM, Dell, Philips & NASDAQ as well as digital health companies like Imprivata, Proteus, EchoPixel, Quartet Health & Eko Devices. The summit was an overwhelming success with the healthcare system’s core group of leaders in attendance and executives from the aforementioned companies sharing their groundbreaking work and leading conversations on the future of healthcare technology advancements. The significant interest and excitement in the summit confirmed the need for more events like this allowing healthcare systems, pharma, digital health, biotech, and other health ecosystem stakeholders to work together to improve healthcare.

Keys to success

Audience architecture. Be strategic when choosing the attendees and speakers at your summit. Don’t choose based on intuition or subjective reputation. Know your target audience well — what people and topics resonate most with them? Ensure you know which voices matter in your space by performing social analytics on your audience. Most companies have realized that influencer marketing is a real force to be reckoned with — but most don’t realize that simple “influence” isn’t enough. You need to know who is influential about the topics that matter to you; and to your target audience. Then you can collect online content and quantitatively rank influencers based on several dozen metrics that define influence in three categories (reach, relevance, and resonance). Using an audience-driven approach to your analysis will ensure you choose the right people to include in your event, which is absolutely crucial to success.

Cross-industry cooperation. Including stakeholders across industries is the best recipe for full sustained innovation. Studies have proven diverse teams perform at a higher level and the same is true here. Cross-industry participation ensures varying perspectives are brought to the table and the most creative solutions are identified. Everyone has a voice in the conversation and they want to be heard. Your event may be one of the few places where this can occur.

Make it happen. This is one of our core values at W2O Group. If an employee has an idea, we pride ourselves on allowing them to drive it forward and make it happen. This holds true whether your role is inside a large brand, an agency or a startup. You must work tirelessly to bring the right people to the table and gain organizational support for your event. You will have to push through multiple setbacks and logistical hurdles to make the event a reality but once you make it, it will all have been worth it.

Innovate or get left behind

Agencies and brands are in an excellent position to play the role of facilitators in innovation. Utilize your connections to bring your partners together, encourage synergies and start the conversation. Be proactive, host a summit, start a hashtag, get the right people together one way or another and see what happens. Whether you are a brand or an agency you have to innovate or get left behind.

In our case, the Digital Summit was a PR, communications and marketing tool that successfully connected hospitals, health system, and administrators with influencers while also allowing brands to enter the healthcare innovation conversation. Regardless of the industry you are in, this is a model for activation that can be repeated across industries and geographies with great success.

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Steven Cutbirth leads operations and business development for MDigitalLife, W2O Group's end-to-end solution for Understanding, Engaging and Activating the online health ecosystem.