newspaper advertising

Healthcare Marketing: Death of Newspapers – Implications for Marketers

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  • News provided to newspapers may not be published in a timely manner unless they offer a strong digital alternative.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.

Hospital Advertising: Americans Still Reading Newspapers

Newspapers provide strong reach as large numbers of adults access news either in print or online.

Many have written newspapers off.  It’s not considered to be a viable advertising medium by some. Newspaper advertising revenues, down 45% in the last four years, seem to support this.

However, Scarborough’s latest Integrated Newspaper Audience study revealed that 74% of American adults either read a newspaper or visit a newspaper Web site at least once a week.  Even though the Audit Bureau of Circulations  shows a 14% decline in audience of the 125 largest newspapers since 2004, newspapers still reach 171 million Americans.

Erik Sass reported in the November 17th issue of MediaPost that newspapers deliver even higher readership among the well-heeled and well-educated.   He cites that the Scarborough study indicates that 79% of white-collar workers, 82% of adults with household incomes over $100,000 and 84% of college graduates have read a newspaper in the past week.

It must be noted that a growing number of adults access the print medium online.  A Nielson Online study for the Newspaper Association of America indicates that unique monthly visits to newspaper websites have increased from 41.1 million in 2004 to 71.8 million in 2009.

So even though there is much written about the death of American newspapers, they still provide a great reach opportunity.  With the combination of space advertising and online advertising, newspapers can still be effective at reaching a large audience, especially among the more affluent and well-educated.  And in smaller markets, community newspapers can even provide stronger audiences.  Newspapers still have a place in the media plans of local hospitals.

Americans receive their news in new and various ways.  Certainly this affects media strategies.  But newspapers can’t be written off.  Either in print or on the web, it’s still “read all over”.


Newspapers May Be Dying But Can Still Be Effective for Hospital Advertising

roll of newspaperWhile newspapers are rapidly losing readers, a strong community-based newspaper can still deliver strong results. 

The news for newspapers these days is not very rosy. It seems to be dying a slow, or maybe rapid, death. But locally oriented daily or weekly newspapers can still provide an effective vehicle for hospital advertising. And their future may be brighter than it seems.

In the past two years, The Tuscan Citizen, Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Examiner, Cincinnati Post, Albuquerque Tribune among others have halted their presses. Others, such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Detroit News/Detroit Free Press and Ann Arbor News joined a list of newspapers that have gone to online/print or online-only editions. And that does not take into account the many who have filed bankruptcy or who are desperately trying to avoid it.

There are several reasons for the demise of newspapers.

  1. The down economy is certainly a heavy blow to the industry.
  2. The high cost of newspaper advertising has always been an obstacle.
  3. But more than anything else, the rise of the Internet, and especially the adoption of the Internet by younger generations, is the largest factor.

Even though newspapers are having huge struggles, some newspapers are doing quite well and provide an effective medium for hospital advertising. Those newspapers, in medium to small markets that are focused on a heavy dose of local news where there is no other viable source of local news are still very viable. In some markets, there is no local television station for local news reporting and local radio stations have long ago forsaken local newsgathering and reporting. So where does one get the local news? You might say the Internet. But in these medium to small markets, the only source that is posting local news on the Internet are the local newspapers themselves. So in those markets, newspapers still survive and even thrive.

It is argued that younger generations just don’t read newspapers but depend on  the Internet for their news. This is true, but at some point in the years to come, those young people will have families and be more concerned with happenings in their community. Then they will become interested in what happened at the city council meeting or who’s running for the local school board or what’s going on that affects them. Then where will they find that information? Unless Internet news postings somehow become very local, there are nowhere but local newspapers to obtain news and valuable information. Then even non-newspaper readers might become newspaper advocates.

So, it’s not wise to dismiss local newspaper advertising out of hand because of what’s happening nationally and in large markets. For those hospitals interested in reaching the local audience in medium to small markets, newspaper advertising can still be a very good option.