Each year, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism releases a report on the state of the news media. It is packed with information and views about how media is rapidly being transformed. For medical product manufacturers such as pharmaceutical and device companies and the agency that regulates their communications – FDA's DDMAC, there are some important messages in the developing numbers seen in the report.
For example, the report states that newspapers saw ad revenue decline during the year, making a total loss for the past three years at 43%. The report also states that 59% of Internet users are now using some form of social media.
Of all media, the only to see increases in audiences were cable news and digital media.
Source: Arbitron, Audit Bureau of Circulations, comScore Media Metrix, Nielsen Media Research
The section of the report that focuses on online media also states that 61% of Americans are getting their news online, which is ahead of newspapers and just behind television. Regarding social media, the report states "social media sites and blogs have helped the news become a social experience in fresh ways for consumers. People use their social networks to filter, assess and react to news." the report also states that the fact that connectivity to the Internet has become so much more mobile that people are provided with a much greater opportunity to achieve a higher level of news awareness any time, anywhere.
In the wake of a weekend where the iPad has gone on sale and where estimates are that the company pre-sold 120,000 units its first day, mobility and access are poised to increase dramatically. News is no longer something people seek out, news is now something that must be sent out to people.
Perhaps one of the more striking statements in the report best sums up the increasing importance of digital media. "…the data continue to suggest a clear pattern in how Americans gravitate for news: people are increasingly "on demand" consumers, seeking platforms where they can get the news they want when they want it from a variety of sources rather than have to come to appointed times and to one news organization."
The clear trend is away from packaged broadcast to thoughtful niche-casting. Niche-casting takes place not in newspapers, or ads on the back of a bus, but on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
In short, the eyeballs are moving. The ad revenues are shifting. The traditional model for news and information is becoming unsustainable. For healthcare communications, whether about products or to educate on matters of public health, to continue to rely on such acommunications model can have negative implications for all stakeholders – manufacturers and patients alike and it is vital that all stakeholders engage in some sound communications planning to avoid irrelevance.