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The quarterly newsletter of AMWA-DVC 

Developing Your Brand Promise
Contracts and Agreements
AMWA Webinars
AMWA-DVC Webinars
Recognizing AMWA-DVC Volunteers

Quick Links

Fall 2014   

Shake, Rattle, and Roll, er...'Write'?

By Priyanka Naik, MD


Memphis, Tennessee will host the 74th AMWA Annual Conference from October 8-11, 2014. This year's "Shake, Rattle, and Write" theme promises a great opportunity to learn from peers, enhance your medical writing and editing skills, and network with other professionals through more than 47 sessions, 75 roundtable discussions, 60 workshops, and 6 networking events.


For those planning to attend, AMWA's Social Media pages will highlight conference events. Follow @ AmMedWriters on Twitter and use #AMWA14 for conference updates. The Track Facts tool details the sessions (divided into 12 areas of concentration from ethics to professional relationships to writing for a lay audience to technology/social media).


Award Winners:

McGovern Award: Gary Schwitzer

Mr. Schwitzer is the publisher of HealthNewsReview.org and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. His talk, "Too Much of the Wrong Kind of Health News" will take place on Thursday, October 9th.


Alvarez Award: Rosemary Gibson

Ms. Gibson is the senior advisor to The Hastings Center and section editor for the "Less is More" series in JAMA Internal Medicine. Ms. Gibson will close out the meeting on Saturday, October 11th, with her address, "Becoming a Medical Writer: the Journey and the Destination."


Harold Swanberg Distinguished Service Award: J. Patrick Barron

This award is presented to an active member of AMWA who has made distinguished contributions to medical communication or the medical profession. Professor Emeritus Barron will discuss "Memories, Observations, and Predictions: the Past, Present, and Future of Medical Writing in Japan and Asia" during his luncheon speech on Friday, October 10th. 

Personalized Schedules and More

This year AMWA will have a conference app that will let you make your own personalized schedule by creating a list of your favorite sessions and speakers. You can also search speakers by first or last name and see all the sessions in which they will be participating. Check AMWA's Annual Conference web page for the conference mobile app. The Annual Conference webpage (under Committing to the AMWA Annual Conference heading) has a template for full-time employees to submit to supervisors for approval to attend. For freelancers, the AMWA highlights the practical skills to be gained in hands-on demonstrations and the opportunity to effectively network. For students, the annual meeting provides an outlet to meet people from all areas of medical writing and editing and from all levels of expertise.


Download the full conference brochure and register at Annual Conference webpage.


Priyanka Naik, MD, is a full-time medical writer currently based in Decatur, Illinois.

Developing Your Brand Promise

By Christine Durst, PhD


The art of branding your business is not in touting your own interests, but in understanding what your customer values about you, according to Tracy Bunting-Early, PhD, who offered strategies for successful branding at AMWA-DVC's 12th Annual Freelance Conference held on March 22nd, 2014 in Philadelphia.


Learn from the Experts

Bunting-Early observed that freelancers often enjoy inventing their own company name and logo, but may not follow a clear, strategic branding process. Perhaps incorporating tips from the experts--the big ad agencies hired to brand high-profile products--might help freelances improve their own branding process.


She highlighted three components that advertisers use when building a brand:

  1. Positioning: How the product or service will be used, from the customer's point of view
  2. Brand Elements: Ways to build the brand toward that positioning goal
  3. Tactics: Specific vehicles for communicating the brand to your audience.
Positioning: What Does Your Client Value About You?
Listing your skills and attributes is easy, but what's more important is your positioning--ie, how your attributes fit with the client's priorities. "How are you going to 'hook' your audience? How are you going to appeal to them?" Bunting-Early asked.


Personal branding books advise developing your promise statement. "The promise is what your customers value about you--what you uniquely bring. It's the value that you promise them, but from their perspective," she said.


Imagine that clients see us (freelance writers) as overlapping circles, Bunting-Early suggested. "We overlap in our skill sets, but we also have unique qualities. The clients can see very clearly where they're going to use you, and where they're going to use someone else," she said. We, however, may have trouble differentiating ourselves from each other. If we are only identifying our own attributes, it's harder to see how we fit into the whole landscape, she added. 


For example, you may be able to write beautiful prose with impeccable grammar, but your customer may value your ability to meet the deadline more than the quality of your writing. If timing is what the client values, it is counter-productive to submit a perfectly written draft if you miss the deadline by doing so. Branding is about figuring out what your client thinks of you and how you can brand yourself to meet its needs.


Learn what your client is struggling with -- "go around to the other side of the desk" and look at it through their eyes. Who is bugging them to turn in the assignment on time or keep it within budget? Then think about what you can do to make their job easier and position yourself to meet their needs. That is what they will value most about you.


Brand Elements: How Will You Build Your Brand?

Once you understand your positioning, you can begin to build your brand elements:

  • Name: Your own or a company name (unique but not too cryptic)
  • Photo: Helps your clients recognize and remember you
  • Logo: Image that resonates with your audience and relates to your brand promise
  • Tagline: Phrase that captures the essence of your brand promise
  • Elevator pitch: Describes your brand promise to your audience(s)
  • Personal passion: Memorable and unique motivations.

"Everything should tie back to your promise--to the value you bring to your customer," Bunting-Early said.


Tactics: How Will You Communicate Your Message?

When you are ready to disseminate your brand, there are many tactics you can choose from:

  • Online profile: Helps people connect your name, face, and attributes (eg, LinkedIn)
  • Business cards: An important tool for networking; consider adding your photo to the card
  • Email: Put your brand elements in the signature area of every message
  • Newsletter/blog/book: Establish your thought leadership in the field
  • Website: Another helpful tool to promote your brand promise
  • AMWA Freelance Directory: Reaches clients looking specifically for medical writers
  • Face-to-face networking: A very effective strategy for making personal connections.
Bunting-Early recommended prioritizing tactics to reach the correct target audience, rather than broadcasting your message randomly. Think about where your ideal clients will be looking--that's where you will get the most "bang for your buck." Experiment with a few tactics and then analyze what worked and what did not. Where can you make improvements? What can you let go of? How can you refocus your efforts?


Build a Board of Advisors

Finally, as a way to continue building and improving your brand promise, Bunting-Early recommends developing a group of peer advisors (writers and/or freelancers in another field). "Fill those needs that help you build your brand and stay on track", she advised. You could even ask one or two trusted clients about what motivates them to call on you or what they like about working with you. This may seem risky, but the information can really help you deliver more value to your customers.


Christine Durst, PhD (Durst Writing Solutions) is a freelance medical writer specializing in promotional and educational writing. She lives in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. 


Ask the Experts: Contracts and Agreements

By Lori De Milto


Two lawyers and a contract advisor from the National Writers Union's tackled contract and agreement issues faced by freelance medical writers during a panel discussion at AMWA-DVC's 12th Annual Freelance Conference held on March 22, 2014 in Philadelphia. Freelance writer Sara Ewing, BSN, RN, moderated the panel, consisting of lawyers Scott I. Fegley, Esq. and Timothy M. Holly, Esq., and author and contract advisor Susan E. Davis.


QUESTION: Should a contract always use the writer's business entity name rather than his/her personal name?

ANSWER: Yes, advised both Fegley and Holly.


QUESTION: Not all contracts are written for "independent contractors." How is a writer's work defined? Independent contractor, work for hire, other?

ANSWER:  "In most cases you will be independent contractors in contracts," Fegley said. "You're paid to produce work for the client. Once you do that, they own it." Holly noted that the varying definition of independent contractor can cause issues. For example, independence is part of the definition, but this may clash with the level of control a client requires. The National Writers Union Guide to Work for Hire Contracts covers seven points on work-for-hire and provides acceptable language for work-for-hire, Davis said.


QUESTION: What should freelance writers look for in confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements?

ANSWER: Both Fegley and Holly advised protecting the knowledge the freelance writer brings to the project. "Confidentiality should be related to the project and your work on it, not the knowledge on the topic you bring," Fegley said.

Three things a freelance writer needs to know about any contract, Holly says, are:

  1. How to get out of it
  2. How to get paid
  3. How the contract can hurt the writer (eg, with an indemnification clause that makes the writer responsible for the client's mistakes).

QUESTION: Who owns the intellectual property rights?

ANSWER: Davis noted that writers do not own the rights to work-for-hire. Intellectual property rights are really important, said Holly. "When in doubt about who owns something, spell it out in the contract," he advised.


QUESTION: Why should a freelance writer care about indemnification?

ANSWER: Indemnification clauses in contracts must be restricted to the writer's work, Fegley said. He also advised ensuring that the contract has a mutual indemnification clause "so you're not responsible for the client's mistakes." Holly added that the term "indemnification" may not be used in the contract and could be disguised under "attorney fees." He advised being cautious about indemnification provisions.



Writers must understand every contract they sign. "You must know the terms and the ramifications," Davis said. "Consulting a lawyer and preventive care is far better than paying for litigation," Fegley added.


Brief Panelist Bios

Scott I. Fegley, Esq. started his own law practice in Yardley, PA and Hamilton Square, NJ in 2002 (www.fegleylaw.com). He focuses on business, employment law, and personal injury.


Timothy M. Holly, Esq. is a partner with Connolly Gallagher LLP. He focuses on labor and employment law practice.


Author Susan E. Davis has been the National Writers Union's National Contract Advisor since 2007. She has published a novel, four nonfiction books, and many newspaper and magazine articles.


Lori De Milto is a freelance medical writer specializing in targeted medical marketing communications for patients, consumers, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.


AMWA Webinars

To increase your opportunities for professional development, AMWA national now offers webinars. Upcoming webinars include:

  • Informed Consent Process: FDA Draft Guidance and Resources on September 17, 2014 at 1PM EST
  • Cite Like You Mean It on November 12, 2014 at 1PM EST 

For more information and to register, visit Online Offerings. You can also view past webinars:

  • PubMed for Power Users
  • Leveraging LinkedIn to Get Yourself Noticed
  • Dial 911: Handling Emergency Situations in Medical Writing
  • The Rising Tide of Plagiarism in Medical Writing

Coming Soon: AMWA-DVC Webinars

AMWA-DVC is also working on webinars and expects to offer the first one in the fall. Look for email announcements with details. "This year AMWA-DVC is providing online educational opportunities tailor-made for our members. These user- friendly webinars are a convenient way to learn and a great way to network," said Jennifer A. Minarcik, MS, DVC webinar coordinator. Stay tuned to the AMWA-DVC website for details.


Recognizing DVC's Excellence and Volunteers

By Lori DeMilto  


"DVC is in a state of excellence," reported outgoing AMWA-DVC President Joanne Rosenberg, MS, ELS, during her state-of-the-chapter report at the June 10, 2014 meeting. Forty-seven AMWA members and guests attended the meeting, held at Chimney Hill Estates Inn in Lambertville, New Jersey. Rosenberg characterized the 2013-2014 chapter year as one of modernization and technology. Milestones included:

  • Amending the bylaws to implement an electronic process so all members could vote
  • Creating an electronic job board targeting jobs in the chapter's geographic area and freelance opportunities
  • Planning for webinars.


The success of DVC is due to its many volunteers. Committee chairs described their committees and recognized their volunteers. DVC gave Amazon gift cards to all volunteers (see the list at the end of this article) as a token of appreciation for their service.


President's Award

"This year's recipient has been fondly called Superwoman," said Rosenberg, before presenting the 2014 President's Award to NJ Program Chair Karen Todd-Jenkins, for her efforts to stage chapter programs, including her extensive work on the Freelance Conference.


Election Results

"I'm so fortunate to have all of you in the chapter to work with," said Eileen McCaffrey, MA, DVC's new president. "We are here to learn from and work with each other." McCaffrey announced the election results. Congratulations to:

  • President-Elect - Kent Steinriede
  • Secretary - Ruwaida Vakil

Perspective from AMWA National

AMWA National is also focusing on technology and modernization, according to current AMWA President Brian Bass. AMWA has a new association management system to coordinate everything the association does and is working on a learning management system to offer more educational opportunities. The executive committee is now working more strategically, and its departments are coordinating their work and ideas to accomplish more. Chapters are also working together more. AMWA participated in the first Medical Communications Inter organizational Summit, during which the
Drug Information Association, International Society for Medical Publication Professionals, Society for Technical Communication, and AMWA explored ways to work together.


Bass also highlighted the volunteer opportunities available at the national level. "There's a place for everyone to add value to AMWA and your careers," he said. "Think of volunteering as an opportunity."


AMWA-DVC Volunteers

Brian Bass

Kira Belkin

Mark R. Bowlby

Tracy Bunting-Early

Kate Casano

Michelle Dalton

Susan Dalton

Lori DeMilto

Christine Durst

Michelle Elliot

Sara Ewing

Don Fallon

Linda Felcone

Yi Feng

Elisha Gillette

Jessica Goldman



Kavita Gumbir-Shah

Robert Hand

Don Harting

Scott Kober

Cyndy Kryder

Caroline Leopold

Darryl Z. L'Heureux

Lawrence Liberti

Christina Litman

Janet Manfre

Jennifer Maybin

Eileen McCaffrey

Kathy Molnar-Kimber

Deepa Mothey

Laura Ninger

Beth Pulaski


Meredith Rogers

Joanne Rosenberg

Shannah Roth

Amy Rovi

Kim Rowe

Rachana Sainger

Dawn Salamon

Nick Sidorovich

Kent Steinreide

Alan Struthers

Karen Todd-Jenkins

Ruwaida Vakil

Stephanie Vargas

Jason Vian

Ann Volk

Sarah Zimov 

Volunteer Opportunities

Learn more about DVC volunteer opportunities:

Lori De Milto is a freelance medical writer specializing in targeted medical marketing communications for patients, consumers, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.



Network on the River Deck!

AMWA-DVC will host its next networking event on September 28th, 2014 from 1 - 4 PM at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. Football fans fear not - we'll have a television available to watch the Eagles game! Click here to register online and pay with a credit card


Network on the River Deck!

AMWA-DVC will host its next networking event on September 28th, 2014 from 1 - 4 PM at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. Football fans fear not - we'll have a television available to watch the Eagles game! Click here to register online and pay with a credit card.


Executive Editor: Eileen McCaffrey

Editor: Michelle Dalton

Assistant Editor: Lori De Milto

Editorial Consultants: Elisha Darville, Robert Hand, Alan Struthers, PhD, and Jason Vian

E-Communications: Mark Bowlby, PhD and Darryl L'Heureux, PhD 


Please direct change of address/information to AMWA Headquarters Staff:


American Medical Writers Association
30 West Gude Drive, Suite 525
Rockville, MD 20850-1161
(240) 238-0940 (tel)
(301) 294-9006 (fax)
e-mail: amwa@amwa.org 



Copyright ©American Medical Writers Association-Delaware Valley Chapter 2014. You may not copy or reuse the content of this newsletter without our written permission.