Monday, November 27, 2006

Hosting Grand Rounds 3.09 (pt1)

So, you're thinking about hosting Grand Rounds? I have to be honest by saying that I was totally intimidated by the entire notion. But, when the opportunity presented itself, I took it and then tried to figure out how to make it happen. If I did it, and so can you! Just follow these steps....

Step One: Prepare, prepare, prepare!
The first thing I did was go right to the source which is the Blogborygmi site. I did that because I wanted to see the origin of this idea and the original target audience. GR is not targeted toward the medical blog commmunity. It is targeted toward the general public. I think this is the right idea, because this is the only way that the medical blogosphere will grow. Read about my research in this GR background post.

Everyone has told me that the more work you do up front, the less crazy GR week will be for you. I cannot agree more. However, I did not have that much time to prepare, so my timeline was very much truncated.

About the Grand Rounds interview - Take my advice. Do NOT take this lightly. As of this writing, I've had about 2,500 referrals from the medscape interview site. Plus, I'm still getting referrals six days after the original posting.

The more memorable you make your interview, the more people that will check out your site. How do you make your interview interesting? Well, you have to think a little bit like a PR marketer. What do I mean by that? Well, if you can think of a witty soundbite or "one-liner" that people will remember, then that will make your interview more interesting. The only other thing I would say is just be honest and talk from the heart - people like that.

I did not have a theme, mainly because I'm not that creative with that type of thing. Plus, I put a poll on my site and the majority of people didn't want me to have a theme.

If you do opt for a theme, make sure you have a vision for this before you're awarded Grand Rounds. With all the craziness of GR week, I don't think there'll be a way for you to figure out a theme and read all the posts that week. The only other thing I would say is that it's possible to be TOO cute with the theme and not be able to convey to the reader what the link is about. Be careful of that.

Step Two: Promote, promote, promote!
Your first item of promotion will be asking people for submissions. Usually, the GR host before you will announce your site and get the ball rolling. Now, the ball is in your court. Figure out when your deadline is, because this will be the first question that you'll get as host. For me, I was really paranoid that I would not be done on time, so I made the deadline on Sunday night. Usually, the deadline is sometime on Monday.

Usually, the top section of the GR post is called "Editor's Picks." The next question people want to know after the deadline is how to get into that top section. For me, I know I wanted to highlight well written stories. Also, I knew that I wanted to keep some kind of order to the submissions as they came in. So, in my submissions guidlines, I put the deadline date/time, my vision for the editor's picks and directions on how I wanted the submissions (blogger name, blog name, blog URL, post name, post URL, one line description of post). I also preferred that submissions be sent to my e-mail, so I included that also.

As the posts came in, I put them in one of three sections: top 1/3, bottom 1/3, and the rest. You'll have your own instincts on what's good. Trust those instincts. There will be at least a couple of posts which won't feel right. Again, trust those instincts. The people that know you will send you their submissions first. But, like everyone says, the bulk of the posts come in on the weekend.

I kind of overdid the GR promotions on my blog during my week, but I was really trying to hype things up. In addition to posting your GR submission post a week prior, I would suggest at least one more GR post during that week to help your own promotion. Also, look to your own friends for postings, even if they have never posted to GR before. This can potentially grow the GR audience.

Step Three: Follow up, follow up, follow up!
With each submission, I would send an e-mail thank you back to the blogger. I knew I would be moving posts around on the priority list right up until the last minute. So, I would send a generic thank you to the person, not "promising" where I would put the post, only that I would "consider" their post - which was true.

Also, with each submission that would come in, if I had time, I would take a quick read of other posts on that person's blog. There was a couple of occasions where I thought another post would fit better with my vision of GR. Topher asked people for revisions, and I didn't feel comfortable with that (just my personal decision).

Be firm with your submission deadline. People will try to push you and give you every excuse in the book to try to get into GR. And, some people just ignore your deadline and then will expect to be included in GR. It's your choice how to deal with this. But, always remember, don't try to make everyone happy, because it's not going to happen.

Everyone has said this, but I think it's important. Double and triple check every link before you go live. Don't be too bent out of shape if one or two slip by. And, don't be too bent out of shape if one or two authors e-mail you to clarify their URL - this happens every week.

After you publish your GR post, there will be many people who will announce GR on their site. Make sure you place a comment of "Thank You." This will definitely go a long way. I added a bunch of links the past week also, because I had no idea how wide the reach was.

Oh no! This is running a lot longer than I thought. Re-reading it, it may not be as helpful as I intended it to be. I'm happy to answer any questions. I'll have to work on a part two post....


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of hard work. Do you enjoy the experience? (Silly question I suppose, as I'm sure that you wouldn't do it if you didn't, but as always I remain curious about peoples motives)What proportion of your 'non-white coat wearing time' did it take up? Thanks again for doing it.

NINANINA said...

doctor doctor!
my daughter will be applying to med school soon. any suggestions? she's very smart. I'm an artist :)

Anonymous said...

I'm hosting next week, so it's great to have all this practical and well-thought-through guidance. Thank you!

Dr. A said...

Hi Nina, Thanks for stopping by my blog. The friends I have on admissions committees have told me that the more of a committment to medicine they see, the better chance of acceptance. For example, any experience volunteering in any aspect of medicine - whether at a hospital, or for a charity, or other?

The other thing I hear, which is going to sound silly, but be as honest and genuine as you can. Admissions committees don't like when people try to fake their way through an application or interview.

I would also encourage you to maybe ask "Prescriptions from the Bad Doctor" and "The Rumors Were True." They're med students right now and may be more helpful. They're in my blogroll. Tell them I sent you and I know they'll be happy to help.