By Briggy Anderson

They keep telling us printed newspapers are dying. But while they’re still with us, they’re fertile ground for health PR campaigns.

Sales have been tumbling since for nearly 20 years – that’s why our media relations campaigns target print and online.

It’s not just a matter of getting mentions in mass market titles such as The Mirror, Sun, Express and Mail, there is huge health PR value in featuring in regional and local newspapers, whose loyal readers scour them cover to cover.

A decade ago, seven newspapers had accredited circulations of more than one million. Now only four can claim that – The Sun, Daily Mail, The Sun on Sunday and The Mail on Sunday.

The Sun, which was selling 3.2 million copies a day in 2008, had a circulation of 1.45 million according to the ABC figures last month (July 2018). The Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The Times no longer make the list, with the Mirror’s titles selling almost a million fewer copies than they did a decade ago.

Don't ignore printed media

There is also attrition in the local press, with sales dropping between four and 25 per cent according to the latest six-monthly ABC figures (March 2018). About 40 titles went to the wall last year.

As many health communications and PR campaigns target older people, you cannot afford to ignore the printed media as many seniors like nothing better than to have a newspaper in their hands.

Newspaper readers are the prototypical engaged audience. It’s rare to find someone who buys The Sun one day and The Mirror the next. They buy either one or both each day.

Brand loyalty in print media is huge. And readers share content. Each newspaper sold is read by more than two people – the news is literally passed on. The value of this to a health PR campaign is huge.

Newspapers, of course, are hungry for content. There are fewer and fewer journalists producing each edition. For a reporter with a slot to fill, a juicy press release is manna from heaven.

Getting real engagement

That’s why our agency has a focus on making news for our clients. A well-written, engaging press release with a real story and an engaging photograph can hit the headlines.

Among the mainstays of our health PR campaigns are surveys, new research and medical breakthroughs. Journalists love facts and figures, the bigger and more emphatic the better.

So it was no surprise to us when our client Frylight’s research showed that we’ll each glug down five-and-a-half bath-fulls of cooking oil in our lifetime made headlines in The Mirror, Mail, Sun and Express.

That volume of oil can have a serious impact on health – it’s the same amount of calories as eating 320 bags of crisps a year – so there was a serious message behind the headline figure that earned that coverage.

The Mirror is read by more than two million people every day – even with its reduced circulation, that’s not to be sniffed at.

Change their lifestyle

Its average reader is at an age when they are starting to think about how they can change their lifestyle to enjoy their later years. According to the Mirror’s own figures, 66 per cent of its readers are aged 45 or older.

We had similar success with Bupa Dental’s shocking statistic that almost two million British people hadn’t been to the dentist in a decade.

Then there is the PR value of expert opinion – another favourite for the much-put-upon reporter.

For example, our syndicated piece with Bupa Dental’s clinical director Dr Eddie Coyle talking about the damage stress does to teeth featured in the Western Mail and South Wales Echo, reaching tens of thousands of dedicated local newspaper readers.

Dr Coyle’s stress-related advice also featured in The Express’s health section – reaching almost 400,000 more engaged readers.

Celebrity endorsements

We can also point to the success of celebrity endorsements for Specsavers. The Telegraph – where 46 per cent of the readers are 65 or older – covered our story on Eamonn Holmes’s hearing loss and how he was helped by Specsavers Audiologists.

The Guardian – its readership mainly in the over-45 bracket – reported on Sir Steve Redgrave’s support for Specsavers’ campaign to prevent diabetic retinopathy, sight-loss brought on by diabetes.

Each of these stories was also featured by huge online news sites, the likes of MailOnline and, with a reach of tens of millions.

And that’s the key to successful health PR and marketing – being able to engage people who will need your clients’ services online or in print. It’s about cutting through the noise to deliver the message your client wants them to hear.

We know a lot about health communications. To speak to the health marketing experts, call us on 0800 612 9890.