While I was honored to MC this launch event celebrating $51 million from the National Institutes of Health, the real magic here was the collaboration across six top academic medical centers and health systems – dare we say, business competitors – to come together and work on something bigger than all of us. (Check out the full story here!) 

And getting people from Deans to staff in the same room, traveling from all over Illinois for this was no easy feat – and we tapped into the science of what makes things viral and what makes people take action. 

Emotion – we worked hard to honor each of our partners and make them feel part of the magic. From creating individual videos showcasing leaders and researchers from each institution to seeing their local branding on signage and screens, the goal was to evoke a sense of pride. (Here’s an example!) 

Unexpected – most university events follow a recognized pattern. We broke that. Red carpets, a backdrop for photos, live music, and entertainment woven throught the programming gave people something to talk about and look forward to experiencing in return for making the trek to downtown Chicago. 

Concrete – each part of the programming showed concrete examples of the strengths of each site and the vision for the future. Cue the photos, videos, and short spark-talks! 

Triggers – the local branding was a trigger to evoke a feeling of identity and collaboration under the shared institute umbrella. 

Practical value – everyone knew why they would attend and what was in it for them, both that night and sharing what to look forward to with the millions of dollars fueling projects ahead. 

Social currency – we arranged for high-ranking leaders/local influencers from each institution to attend and shared that with everyone during the promotion, as well as fun details like the red carpet entrance, etc. People wanted to be in the know and attend instead of missing out! 

Enjoy using the above sci comm tips to make your next event a success!