The question arose from the audience at the recent Medical Marketing & Media “Skill Sets Live” seminar on Content Marketing, during a panel discussion. “I still love print,” stated Peter Woodrow, creative director of the Multichannel Marketing Creative Strategy Group at Merck & Co., “but our content must be packaged in a way [audiences] want to see it.” He added that consumers increasingly access content via smartphones, websites, and other digital media. When asked specifically about customer preferences, Woodrow responded, “We must be everything to everybody, at least until we reach the tipping point.”

What is that tipping point? Earlier in the session, Woodrow noted that most readers of healthcare content reach “a subconscious breaking point” after about 70 to 90 seconds, beyond which they will either keep reading or stop. A sobering thought for us content generators!

Back to the panel discussion: “Print is a rarity these days,” commented Alec Pollak, VP and director of User Experience and Content Marketing at JUICE Pharma Worldwide, “though it sometimes lends [content] more cachet.” An audience member observed that his colleagues “still overwhelmingly want print,” and still want to digest information in print form, but he was worried that “if we move too fast toward digital, we may miss opportunities to engage healthcare professionals.”

“Try to think of content as independent of a vehicle,” Woodrow counseled. “If it’s good, it should work in multiple media.” He specifically mentioned infographics as an effective way to reach audiences. That resonated with me, as some of my agency clients are increasingly offering infographics to their biopharma clients, and I’m often involved in creating that content.

“It’s not all about digital, but about the proper vehicles to carry [your] content,” added Pollak. Presumably, print is still a viable vehicle for certain types of content and audiences. But the implication is that the power of the message is more important than the vehicle.

“This can be scary,” Pollak continued, “but if you start from a position of familiarity, you can build out a content stream in conjunction with other elements.”

So print is not dead! I’m so relieved. And yet, I must not forget that it’s just one piece of the puzzle. A useful reminder for the next time I feel like getting on my high horse and writing something dense and voluminous!