Friday, November 30, 2007

#23: I forgot to do that...

Apologies on this much delayed post. Well, sometimes my time (and mind) is occupied by so many other things, that I forgot there are other stuffs, like this blog, awaiting my action. ;)

I believe you will feel this way too in your work as a medical writer-cum-project manager. You may find yourself working on two or three or more projects at the same time. There is no such thing as "let me complete this project before starting on the second one". And as time goes on, you may find more and more project files piled up on your in-tray. ;)

So it is not surprising that you may sometimes forget to, for example, follow-up with client for approval on a particular project or get the designer to make a specific correction in the layout of a bulletin.

What can you do to 'curb' your forgetfulness and avoid missing out on important tasks?

It's really simple. Everybody knows how. Just write them down on a piece of paper.

BUT, it's not just scribbling them all over the paper without order. Do write down the tasks that you need to act on according to its urgency and importance.

I find it useful to list tasks in this order - most urgent, most important, least urgent, least important.

Urgent tasks are such as getting the client to approve the layout first thing in the morning, so that the bulletin could be sent out for printing by noon and delivered on time for their company meeting 3 days later.

Important tasks are such as having the designer to change the chart before it is sent to the client for approval when he is back to work from his holiday next week. Putting in the wrong chart simply reflects the project manager's incompetency. You wouldn't want your client to think of you that way.

And the best time to prepare your urgent and important to-do list is at the end of your working day, before you leave the office. Write them down clearly and orderly, so that you immediately know what to do when you step into the office next morning.

Once you have completed the task, cross it off. You will feel a sense of accomplishment when you see that the list for that day getting shorter and shorter.

Hope this will help you remember better at work. :)


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

#22: The different ‘faces’ of detail aids

Besides being presented in the conventional booklet form, detail aids can also put on different ‘outfits’.

Flipcharts are usually made up of 6-12 pieces of cardboard with information printed on single or both sides of every cardboard. They are normally placed on doctors’ desk. There are calendar flipcharts and patient education flipcharts.

Calendar flipcharts
Obviously dates are printed on one side of the cardboards, while product information, figures and data on the other. While doctors use the calendar side to check dates or mark important appointments, they are at the same time reminded of the presence of the product.

Patient education flipcharts
Patient education information printed on one side of the cardboards, where doctors can use them to explain disease to patients, and possibly treatment with the particular product highlighted in the flipchart. Again, as when doctors use the flipchart, they are constantly being reminded of the product.

Although not considered as a detail aid, but sometimes a conference kit folder – basically a paper folder with a pocket that is used to contain sample of clinical papers and writing pads - can have the relevant product information printed on the insides, hence serving as a simplified detail aid.

In fact, detailing information can be presented in any creative way that you can think of. For example, treatment guidelines and product information printed on the four sides of a cardboard folded in a pyramid shape.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

#21: Working on a detail aid

As mentioned in my previous post, a detail aid is a marketing tool that helps your clients to promote their products. Therefore, understanding your clients' needs is the very first step to producing effective detail aids that fit nicely into their product marketing strategies.

Getting a clear brief from client
Before you start the project, most likely you will discuss with your client face-to-face on several aspects. You want to get answers on the following questions:

- What are the specific reasons for having this detail aid?
- Who is the target audience?
- What key messages should the detail aid convey?
- Are there any key published papers that support those messages?
- What kind of design style does your client like?
- What are the design elements to be included (eg, colors, images, photos, illustrations, logos)?

Where is the content?
Content in a detail aid comes from a variety of sources pertaining to the particular product.

Usually your client will provide the related materials, such as product monograph, existing detail aids, clinical papers, or abstracts from scientific conferences. Reading these materials carefully will help you understand their product better. You will also be turning some of the data and facts from those materials into content of the detail aid.

At times, materials provided may not be sufficient or up to date, you then need to do some research yourself. Start searching for review papers and clinical papers (the more recent the better) with PubMed.

How to ‘utilize’ the clinical papers
From clinical papers, you can:

1. Extract key results from the abstract.
2. Use the introduction to set the scene for the detail aid.
3. Get in-depth details and figures or charts from the study results.
4. Use the discussion to emphasize the significance of the key results.

Plan your story
The next thing you need to do is to plan a story for the detail aid.

Using a conventional 4-page detail aid as example, this is how you can divide the detail aid into different sections.

Page 1: The detail aid cover, usually carries an eye-catching design and title.

Pages 2 and 3: Spread the content between these two pages. For example, set the scene with an introduction to the disease or treatment concept, followed with drug product characteristics, efficacy and safety, data of which are supported by clinical papers.

Page 4: Keep the top part of this page for conclusion. You can use bulleted points to summarize the key information presented in the main content. Other things like product shot, references and logos are placed at the bottom part of the page.

Depending on the number of pages available, emphasis of the detail aid, or the amount of data you have, you may adjust the story or flow accordingly.

As with other projects, you and the designer are very likely to make a few rounds of changes based on your client’s comments before the detail aid can be finally approved for printing.


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