Situation critical: Drug companies failing to meet journalists' needs

Healthcare communications is "on life support", with almost nine in 10 journalists unhappy with the information they receive.

New research out today reveals a huge gulf between the information provided by drug companies and what journalists actually need to create their content.

The survey, conducted by digital communications platform ISEBOX, reveals that 85 per cent of health journalists view healthcare communications as either "out of shape" or "on life support".

Half (50 per cent) admit they never visit the newsrooms of drug companies, with almost a quarter (22 per cent) calling them "unsatisfactory" and two thirds (64 per cent) saying there is "room for improvement" when it comes to the information provided.

The survey questioned 166 health journalists across the UK and US to assess what information provided by pharmaceutical and healthcare companies is of most value to them and their audiences.

It reveals that when it comes to providing relevant content for journalists, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies are off the mark.

In fact, just 15 per cent of journalists rated healthcare communications as "healthy and fit" with almost three quarters of those questioned (71 per cent) declaring the relationship "out of shape" and 14 per cent feeling that it is "on life support".

Part of the problem is about trust - with the survey revealing that only 2 per cent of journalists find the information and press releases provided by pharmaceutical and healthcare companies "trustworthy".

While 16 per cent say they do not trust this information at all, almost half (48 per cent) only somewhat trust it.

However, 36 per cent of journalists said that the FDA/EMA restrictions on communicating industry news are in the best interests of the consumer, with almost half (44 per cent) saying they are sometimes in their best interests.

Health journalist and media communications consultant Jo Willey, director of Jo Willey Media, said: "This research shows that there is still a long way to go when it comes to breathing new life into healthcare communications.

"Regulations are welcome and necessary. However, care must be taken that these regulations - or the fear of breaching them - do not prevent pharmaceutical companies from effectively communicating accurate, creative content.

"Journalists still need newsworthy, simple, clear content relevant to their outlet whether that is traditional print media, web, radio, TV or social media. Over-complication or irrelevant content opens up the possibility of miscommunication, something which could be far more damaging."

The survey also found that when it comes to the most useful video content, journalists overwhelmingly want independent medical expert testimonial (48 per cent) as well as patient testimonials (14 per cent) and B-roll (11 per cent).

Only 22 per cent of those questioned said pharma and healthcare news and launches provide enough relevant visual content.

Marc de Leuw, chief executive officer of ISEBOX, said: “Healthcare communications is clearly a balancing act between the governance placed on drug companies and a press eager for transparency and meaningful content. It’s in the interest of both parties to enter a more open dialogue to raise the bar on effective information exchange.’’

Supporting webinar June 29th 2017:
Join Jo Willey, Director of Jo Willey Media and Barbara Grogan, Senior Health Communications Consultant in discussing these important findings

Contact: For further details contact: 

UK: Marc de Leuw, +44 7774 234950
US: Shannon Kramer, +1 (888) 473-7275 x.21

About ISEBOX: ISEBOX is a Cloud digital Media Center solution supporting Health marketing and communications professionals. The company, founded in 2012, is based in London with offices in New York and Philadelphia.