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5 ways “fake news” impacts healthcare media

The proliferation of the term “fake news” over the last year has catapulted the entire journalism profession into the spotlight…and into defense mode.

According to a new report, A Real Plague: Fake News, 82 percent of Americans are concerned about the impact “fake news” might have on the credibility of information they get from the media. While people may think “fake news” accusations, and its effects, are limited to political reporting, it’s not. Trade journalists are feeling the heat too.

Thanks to a combination of an unstable healthcare political environment and a heightened sensitivity to journalist credibility, our team has witnessed five key changes in the dynamic of some B2B healthcare editorial interactions.

1) More thorough vetting of contributed content

Be prepared for editors to find a shiny new red pen and use it. A lot. Contributed content may go through a more rigorous review as editors are more attuned to quality criticism or perceived bias. Manuscripts previously accepted “as-is” are now subject to more thorough editor mark-ups, fact-checking and resource confirmation. Except for this journal, which apparently hasn’t received the memo yet – to a cringeworthy, yet hilarious effect.

2) Increase in author agreements

Prep your legal teams for reviewing more author agreement forms that hand over rights of contributed content to the publication. More and more healthcare trades are implementing this process to leave no question about ownership of submitted content, to secure exclusivity of the content for a duration of time and to safeguard from companies reusing material they’ve offered up as original content. For some companies, agreeing on permission rights can be a difficult process and could result in delayed coverage or needing to find a new home for their content.

3) Interest in more third-party endorsements over company interviews

Editors are always looking to speak with healthcare facilities about their successes, but it’s becoming more of a necessity than a nice-to-have for B2B healthcare communicators. It will be increasingly important to bring the voice of your customers to the table to provide authentic, fresh and engaging story angles.

4) Shrinking coverage opportunities

Even though many trade publications are strapped for resources, we’ve witnessed a slow recoil from editors publishing thought leadership content from manufacturers. We’re also seeing space for industry news in daily newsletters getting more competitive. This suggests marketers and their agency partners need to stay current with editorial coverage trends and get more aggressive with unique, proactive outreach that tells a more complete story.

5) Growing interest in covering more policy-related stories

For some healthcare trade publications, policy-related content is updated 24/7 while others barely cover it. With sweeping changes to the Affordable Care Act being proposed – along with other global business proposals that impact the healthcare sector – editorial focus is once again on timely policy issues. Where it makes sense for your business, be prepared to comment on reform topics, and even if it feels off-topic, prep spokespeople on how to answer policy-related interview questions.

The emphasis on credible reporting has been a bit of a wake-up call for some, helping to raise the content quality bar for all of us to benefit from. As PR and marketing pros, we have to hold up our end of the bargain.


Do you have questions about how to navigate the evolving healthcare trade landscape? If so, reach out to us at – we’d love to chat.

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