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Is the pandemic an opportunity for healthcare communication? These are the channels that communicators should be using now

Despite the increasing importance of social media, the "classic" media are the most important navigators for citizens during the pandemic. This is shown by a representative survey of more than 1,000 participants conducted by Klenk & Hoursch: The mainstream media are highly relevant for information and opinion making on health topics in the B2C sector. Communicators should therefore definitely rely on PR and media relations for their consumer health topics.

The most important findings at a glance

1. The "classics" remain relevant

  • Almost two-thirds of Germans (62 percent) use conventional daily media such as television, news magazines or the local newspaper to navigate their way through the Corona information jungle
  • These mainstream media, analog and online, are the top sources of information for all age groups: both among younger people between 18 and 34 (55 percent), as well as among 35- to 49-year-olds (58 percent) and especially among older target groups over 50 (70 percent)
  • This means that the traditional media - from BILD to Tagesschau - continue to play an important role as a source of orientation.

2. Media reports are increasingly consumed via social media

  • A total of 31 percent of respondents primarily use the social media services of news media (e.g., on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to find out about developments in the pandemic
  • Unsurprisingly, but interestingly, there are notable differences between the younger and older target groups here: Nearly half of 18- to 34-year-olds (46 percent) as opposed to just under a quarter of both 35- to 49-year-olds (27 percent) and 50- to 69-year-olds (23 percent)
  • It is becoming apparent that the relevance of traditional channels (print, online, TV) will decline as a result of demographic developments and that these will increasingly be supplemented or even replaced by social media services

3. Experts are trusted

  • Due to the current uncertain facts, however, Germans do not rely on the media and social media alone: Roughly half of all Germans (48 percent) actively and specifically seek information from organizations they trust, such as the Robert Koch Institute, the German government or the WHO.
  • Around 28 percent follow experts, influencers and public figures directly on their Twitter, YouTube or Telegram channels to get first-hand information.
  • 43 percent distrust media and social media coverage of the COVID 19 pandemic and question information provided by medically trained personnel such as primary care physicians and pharmacists.

4. Younger people are critical of the media and social media

  • More than one-third of Germans (37 percent) even think there is too much disinformation and speculation in the media at the moment, and they are in fact cutting themselves off from the news (32 percent).
  • Interestingly, this is particularly true of the younger target group between 18 and 34 years of age (40 percent), which is significantly more distrustful than the older target group aged 50 and over (26 percent).

Conclusion: Seize opportunities now

The results of our survey show that PR and media relations are still relevant in the communications mix and that experts from organizations or healthcare institutions can contribute the necessary credibility. It is not surprising that after more than a year of reporting on Corona, a certain "pandemic fatigue" is kicking in.

But the situation offers a great opportunity for health communication: health is currently at the top of the public agenda. Communicators from companies and organizations can use this attention for their healthcare topics. Whether the pandemic acts as a brake or a booster depends essentially on five criteria:

  1. a customized communications strategy
  2. a differentiated channel strategy
  3. relevant content
  4. value-added content that explains complex issues in a way that specifically addresses the target group
  5. reliable contacts, e.g. to key media, influencers and KOLs.

About the survey

Klenk & Hoursch, together with the market research institute Innofact AG, surveyed 1,015 people over the age of 18 in a manner that was representative of the population regards to age and gender. The online survey was conducted in March 2021.

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