JAMA shows a knack for multi-channel outreach

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Television ratings generally come in three broad categories: small, medium and large. And then there is the Super Bowl category, which is massive. Recent viewer data shows that the gridiron slugfest has some unexpected competition: the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jann Ingmire, director of media relations for the journal, told MM&M that a recent video piece it had done about an increased risk of alcohol abuse after bariatric surgery drew 126 million viewers. Last year's Super Bowl: about 111 million.

As a whole, JAMAs' TV audience climbed to 273 million viewers in the second quarter of this year, she said. Print counted 20 million readers and web had 623 million unique visitors. The hook is JAMA's weekly Digital News Release, which can be mined for video, audio and web stories. The overall tally: a 115% increase in users compared to the second quarter of 2011.

“We don't have any strings attached, so [the content] is there because part of our mission is the betterment of public health,” Ingmire said. She also noted the packages are a branding tool that allows JAMA to fill “the ever increasing and prevalent need for more information about healthcare, and JAMA is obviously a trusted source.”

JAMA has been creating multi-platform content for years, including 25 years' worth of television news reports and the printed version, around since 1883. What's changed is that all of the platforms have been accessible from one resource—the Digital News Release—since the end of 2010.

“It increases our outreach so that we're not only getting television viewers, we're also getting online viewers," Ingmire said. "And as things change from where people are getting their information, we have to keep up with that, too...and have as many channels of information as possible."

She also attributed the rising popularity to a stepped-up publication schedule, to 48 this year compared to 24 last year, and the inherent flexibility of the format. The packages are malleable enough so news channels can run stories as-is or can swap in their own audio or splice in their own footage.

It takes about two to three weeks to put each release together. Ingmire said she sits down with JAMA's editors to look at the slate of upcoming stories its contracted production company, VNR1, should cover. VNR1 then packages and compiles the information and uploads approved content online. She said the upload component is significant because it bypasses any potential transmission problems with satellites. She said it also makes it easier for sites to tap into what the journal has on offer.

“This is a great way for us to expand our reach, so if the story didn't get a lot of pickup on TV it might get more pickup on the web and...the way things are now with blogs being very specialized, this kind of thing is perfect for it,” she said.

Consistently popular topics are “diet and exercise stories, and anything that has an immediate impact on someone's health.”
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