RSNA meeting flash dance

November 26, 2003

By Greg Freiherr, Editor, gfreiherr@cmp.comA lot of hype always surrounds the RSNA meeting. That carries the risk that attendees may get overly excited and then be

By Greg Freiherr, Editor, gfreiherr@cmp.com

A lot of hype always surrounds the RSNA meeting. That carries the risk that attendees may get overly excited and then be disappointed. But I'm not worried. I've learned to deal with it.

In the past, I've found, most of my problems occurred when well-meaning vendors started telling me how great their new releases would be and then stopped short, saying they just couldn't be too specific before the show. My downfall was my overly active imagination. I tended to fill in the gaps the way I hoped they would actually be filled. I'd hear "platform" and think "new scanner." Now I've come to realize that a platform can be just about anything.

Breakthroughs and revolutions seemed to happen frequently, too. I have come to understand that those words were being used too loosely, so I have stopped using them. When a digital x-ray system named "Revolution" came along, I had to adjust my thinking. This year, I'm going to have to make another adjustment to handle the "Breakthrough" product line. No problem.

I like branding. Naming MR scanners Sonata, Symphony, and Harmony, for example, gives the products pizzazz. These may not be the first words that come to mind when lying in a closed cylinder during an MR exam, but they lead to nice thoughts.

Perception is half the battle. Marketers have to associate their products with positive ideas. I accept that. But lately, I've been having problems getting those ideas into writing. Product and company names often begin with a lower-case letter, followed by a capital; for example, iCAD and iPACS. I was taught that you shouldn't start a sentence with a lower-case letter. I have trouble breaking rules, so I get around it by inserting "the."

We don't see many really innovative names, like Cemax, anymore. I think that's a shame. Those names kind of sneak up on you. They give you a chance to make a discovery. I remember doing an interview at the Cemax booth 10 years ago (when Cemax was still a company), and suddenly blurting out that this 3D visualization company should build its name into a slogan like "See the max with Cemax!" The person I was interviewing just looked at me, trying to find a diplomatic way to tell me that the name is supposed to create that impression without saying it. Well, I was young.

My job requires me to know the difference between flash and substance. This year, I'm hoping for the best.