The Hematologist

March-April 2016, Volume 13, Issue 2

How ASH Spreads the News

Charles S. Abrams, MD Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Laboratory Medicine; Director,
PENN-CHOP Blood Center for Patient Care and Discovery, Philadelphia, PA

Published on: February 29, 2016

In an increasingly connected, information-driven society, the impressions we make each day and the conversations in which we take part — our “footprints” in the world at large — are of utmost importance. With this in mind, ASH expends a great deal of effort to maintain awareness of the larger conversation around hematologic breakthroughs and developments, to consistently share information that directly affects the community of hematologists, and also to lead these conversations when it is most appropriate.

It is worth mentioning that early in my tenure with ASH, the Society purposely kept a low profile, operating under the assumption that the science should speak for itself. But in the last 12 years, ASH leadership has recognized the importance of raising the profile of hematology in order to help support a number of strategic goals — specifically, ensuring the future of hematology and promoting the best care of patients. To that end, ASH has built a comprehensive strategy to foster healthy interactions with the trade and lay press, which includes sustaining and tapping into our media relationships before, during, and after the annual meeting.

If you attended the most recent meeting, you couldn’t miss the proverbial “gauntlet” of reporters in the halls of the Orange County Convention Center. The 2015 ASH annual meeting drew an impressive 271 reporters (96 U.S. and 175 international), from top-tier news sources including Bloomberg, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal, which ran the widely circulated story “New Weapons in the Fight Against Multiple Myeloma.” And for the second year in a row, CNBC broadcast live from the meeting. Through the presence of these and other outlets, a greater public appreciation for the important work we do is created, and a deeper understanding of major scientific breakthroughs — from newly approved drugs, to CAR T cells, to gene therapy for sickle cell disease — moves far and wide throughout society.

Similar to the annual meeting, the influence of Blood is always top of mind in terms of maintaining and increasing our visibility in the public eye. When a Blood article gains momentum in the popular press, important conversations are sparked. For example, back in 2013, ASH published a Blood Forum article in which more than 120 experts in CML wrote that the high cost of drugs is “unsustainable.” News of this timely, controversial, and consumer-friendly piece appeared in 323 stories in outlets such as The New York Times, CBS Evening News, CNN, Consumer Reports, CNN Money, Forbes, and Harvard Business Review, and stimulated a critical national dialog about the sometimes crippling prices of live-saving drugs.

There has been much discussion lately about the exciting times that we are witnessing in hematology, and the ground that is being broken in drug development, genome editing, and numerous other areas. With this whirlwind of innovation comes a flood of information that can overwhelm not only us as practitioners, but also the patients and families that we are united in serving. ASH is dedicated to disseminating the most credible, clear, informative news in the field, and to harnessing all our media relationships to do the essential work of educating the broader public and elevating the perception of hematologists and all that we do.

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