As newspapers close, convert to more digital content or reduce the number of publishing days, the implications for marketers are significant.
Advance Publications has announced that the New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register will all reduce their daily publications to only three times per week. This is a startling announcement in many ways. These newspapers each have long histories, with the Mobile paper having published a daily for over a century. And it’s surprising for it to be happening in major markets like New Orleans and Birmingham. This follows other newspapers that have either closed (Tucson Citizen, Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Examiner, Cincinnati Post) and others that have adopted hybrid online/print or online only models (Seattle Post Intelligencer, Detroit News/Free Press and the Ann Arbor News).
Despite the fact that some larger newspapers like the New York Times are seeing success with paid digital subscriptions and Warren Buffet recently made a $143 million investment in the newspaper business by purchasing the 63 newspapers owned by Media General, change is coming sooner rather than later for the news industry.
Printing on dead trees doesn’t make as much sense anymore. The harsh reality is that printed newspapers are no longer the dominant method of receiving news and information. Twenty-four hour broadcast news networks and the internet make news reporting and the receiving of breaking news instantaneous. It won’t wait till the print presses run. And the media habits of younger generations who depend on the web for almost all of their news will make print news even more obsolete.
For guys like me who look forward to reading the newspaper every morning, this is difficult to comprehend. And as these changes occur, the implications for healthcare marketers are real and substantial. Here are just a few ways marketers will be affected:
- News provided to newspapers may not be published in a timely manner unless they offer a strong digital alternative.
- Digital and broadcast news do not offer the depth of information as newspaper. It will be more difficult to explain complex issues
- With fewer editions, the competition for space will be greater. No more getting a story because it’s a slow day.
- Newspapers will no longer provide the print frequency or timeliness for our advertising.
- Advertising in digital and broadcast formats is much more limiting than print. We will not be able to tell a story or deliver a message as completely as in a print ad.
In many ways, inevitable changes to the newspaper industry will make our jobs more difficult. From the perspective of utilizing both earned and unearned media, we will have to adapt. Adapt more to a digital age of reporting and messaging. It will require a change for us all.