PR View by Mark Senak

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If you're living under a rock, you may have missed the explosion in new media dramatically impacting mass communications. We're talking about blogs, video downloading, vlogs, podcasts and the like. Rather than relying on institutions for news and entertainment, people are turning to others. 

For corporations, this presents both opportunities and risks. New media is self-generated media to which millions are turning. To opt out of that conversation means giving up on a growing portion of the population. But participating means losing control over messaging. 

In a highly regulated industry, there are special risks involved. Participation must be creative. But consider: a video downloaded from YouTube can have a quicker and more targeted effect than mass advertising; a blogger's discussion of a company appears almost instantaneously on that company's Google Finance profile; mention of a blog on a company chat board on Yahoo Finance can drive traffic to the blog.

So what are the opportunities?  Here are a few:
Clinical trial recruitment: Consider how much more potent than advertising a video on a trial site explaining the nature of a clinical trial could be. Connect them to profiles of individual trials. 

Think about the impact of video components on risk management programs, where a label not only has the written portion, but a link to a Web site where video can be used to demonstrate patient use of Rx and OTC drugs.

PSAs produced at great cost, then dumped on cable channels at 3am? Why not put them on YouTube?

These are a few of the ways that the industry can be participating in the new media revolution.  But one thing is for sure: There is a mass communications migration into new media under way, and no one should be left out.
Mark Senak is a senior vice president at Fleishman-Hillard and author of the blog Eye on FDA

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