Erin Johnson, communications officer for the Institute of Biomedical Science, discusses the challenges, successes and excitement for Biomedical Science Day 2018.
Our challenge: keeping the momentum
This year we celebrated Biomedical Science Day, a national awareness day set up by our organisation to celebrate and promote the role of biomedical scientists everywhere. With Biomedical Science Day being such a success last year, the challenge for us as a membership body: build off the success of last year’s celebration and keep the momentum going.
We first set up this awareness day in 2017, to help raise the profile of biomedical science and to give our members a chance to be recognised for the hard work they do. What most people don’t know is that every blood test, tissue biopsy, swab or other sample taken in hospital or at your GP’s surgery will been analysed by biomedical science staff. Their work produces the diagnoses on which doctors, consultants and surgeons plan treatment.
In our first year we didn’t know what to expect. We were blown away by the hundreds of submissions we received for our photo competition, our thunderclap campaign and even trended on Twitter on the day. This was amazing as it meant that not only did we have hundreds of our members taking part in our celebrations, our online audience grew and we learned there are a whole lot of scientists out there wanting to connect with us. In short, they want to be heard and celebrated, which is important.
It’s all about the preparation
Now in its second year, we had a better grip on the conversation. We knew our members wanted to continue the celebrations, we just needed a new angle. We devised the new hashtags #BiomedicalScienceDay2018 and #AtTheHeartOfHealthcare and challenged our members to show us how they are at the heart of healthcare. We wanted our members prepared, so we sent out thousands of freebies, including special Biomedical Science Day stickers, wristbands, posters, leaflets, fluffy bugs and placards to take pictures with.
We also held 10 categories for our competitions, including a video contest and a biomedical bake-off, the top entries of which were judged by celebrity baker and biomedical scientist Yan, from the Great British Bake Off. We also encouraged our members to focus more on the profession and to hold lab tours and events in hospitals. We even created an interactive map on our website for the public, so they could see what events were happening near them and attend.
Our 2018 celebrations – manic and we loved it
We were even more impressed with the response this year. Imagine logging into Facebook at 8.30am and you already have 1000 notifications and it’s increasing every minute. That was how busy it was for our comms team. We had one of us handling Facebook, another member on Twitter, a third answering emails and dealing with enquiries, it was manic. We loved it.
We also received hundreds of entries to our competitions, and it took us days to add all of the photos, gifs and videos to our online Facebook gallery. Our Thunderclap campaign reached over 280,000 accounts, which helped spread our promotional message about biomedical science around the world. Our hashtags reached over 1.5million people, trended throughout the day on Twitter and we helped give back to our members, by providing a platform for them to share their photos and promote the profession and their roles to the public. People tweeted pictures of themselves in the lab, holding stalls in their local hospitals, we even received pictures of a rabies cake.
To show their role was at the heart of healthcare, some laboratories took photos of their staff making a heart shape, others contributed artistic photos and there were loads of pictures of cakes (including spermy cake, ew!). More sent us selfies of themselves in the lab at work, at big interactive displays with visitors, even with their upper management administrators and CEOS. The news coverage was great too—we created a press release template and shared it with our members. A number of our members’ events were covered by the local press, which helped increase public awareness of what they do.
Bring on 2019!
At the heart of it, we’re here to care for our members, so this was a great celebration. Whilst we’ve learned more things from the experience, it was a fantastic (if tiring) day. I know it’s almost cliché to say we can’t wait for the next one but it’s actually true. I can’t wait to help plan what we do for 2019, and to see what our members will do next.
With over 20,000 members in 30 different countries, the Institute of Biomedical Science is the leading professional body for scientists, support staff and students in the field of biomedical science.
For over 100 years we have been dedicated to the promotion, development and delivery of excellence in biomedical science within all aspects of healthcare, and providing the highest standards of service to patients and the public.