Mass media refers to communication devices, which can be used to communicate and interact with a large number of audiences in different languages. Be it the pictorial messages of the early ages, or the high-technology media that are available today, one thing that we all agree upon, is that mass media are an inseparable part of our lives. Entertainment and media always go hand in hand, but in addition to the entertainment, mass media are an effective medium for communication, dissemination of information, advertising, marketing, and in general, for expressing and sharing views, opinions, and ideas. Mass media is a double-edged sword – there are positive as well as negative influences of media.
Print media encompasses mass communication through printed material. It includes newspapers, magazines, booklets and brochures, house magazines, periodicals or newsletters, direct mailers, handbills or flyers, billboards, press releases, and books.
Newspapers enjoyed the position of the most preferred medium to reach a wider audience until electronic communication emerged on the media scene. In the early days, newspapers were the only medium that masses at large depended on, for daily news. A newspaper carries all kinds of communication related to a variety of topics like politics, socialism, current affairs, entertainment, finance, stocks, etc.
Apart from this, it also includes topics, which are in lighter vein like cartoons, crosswords, Sudoku, movie reviews, book reviews, puzzles, crosswords, etc. This captivates the imagination and interests of readers from all age groups. Newspapers are an important platform of mass communication, as they reach every nook and corner of the world where electronic media fails to reach. It plays a pivotal role in providing authentic firsthand information, building opinions, updating the knowledge of the reader, and serves as a good platform for advertisers to promote their products. However, with the emergence of Internet, which updates information every second, and is just a click away, the popularity of newspapers has reduced.
Magazines are another type of popular culture print media. They usually cater to a specific type of audience who are looking for information based on a particular subject. Magazines cover a plethora of topics, like current affairs, business, finance, consumers, gadgets, self-help, luxury, lifestyle, beauty, fashion, entertainment, travel, etc. Magazines like TIME and Reader’s Digest include information, which is all-pervasive.
The frequency of magazines can be weekly, fortnightly, bi-monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or yearly. These magazines are the best forum for advertisers, as they have a niche readership. The readers look for a specific type of information, say for example, a camera ad in a Gadget magazine will definitely have a direct brand impact on the reader who wants to buy a camera. Also, the shelf life and brand recall of magazines is far better than newspapers, which have a short life span.
Booklets and Brochures
Booklets and brochures are a part of the promotional literature of a product, or an organization. There are two types of booklets and brochures.
Usually in malls and stores, promotional literature is distributed free to all (with discount offers, or other schemes which seem profitable). For example, a free booklet about cosmetics will include information about the products, latest trends, contents, the benefits of using them, the available range, or colors, discount coupons, etc. This, will most likely, have a positive impact on your decision-making.
These booklets and brochures are usually given with a product for better customer experience and easy usage, post purchasing. You must have observed when you buy any new item, it is usually accompanied with a small booklet giving details about the benefits of using the product, usage directions, cleaning and storage instructions. The guidelines are usually followed by a series of ‘how to’ images which facilitate easy information about the product.
These booklets may also include the ‘Other offerings’ section. Organizations also have their own profiles in the form of brochures, which they give to their stakeholders to create a favorable image. It highlights the information about the company, its capacity and capability, services and solutions offered, milestone achievements, sustainability, innovation, awards, etc. In this case, people “do judge the book by its cover”, and hence, these booklets and brochures are designed in an attractive format.
House Magazines, Periodicals, or Newsletters
Many organizations today invent various platforms, like house magazines, periodicals, or newsletters to keep the stakeholders posted about the news related to the company. Usually, the house magazines include data about a company’s achievements, employee engagement activities, and information about the offerings. A periodical or newsletter, is more or less, designed on similar lines but its size is restricted to a few pages only. Mostly, it includes similar information, but in a very short format.
Their frequency ranges from weekly to yearly. It has an encouraging impact on the stakeholders because of the ‘feel-good factor’. They believe that the company cares to communicate with them, and this also increases their confidence about the prospects of the company.
Direct mailers are small pamphlets, which are devices for direct advertising and marketing. Usually, they arrive at our doorstep through the postal mails. Direct mails are a relatively cheaper option of marketing as bulk advertising is cost-effective through post. Most of them include colorful advertisements, discount and gift coupons, pre-approved credit card offers, automobile, realtor, and political promotion.
Direct mailing system is best suited for B2B business. People have a tendency to remember what they see in the advertisement, and recall it while making a purchase, or a voting decision. Also, the attractive offers on a commercial direct mailer prompt many to make a positive buying decision.
Handbills or Flyers
Handbills or flyers is a form of communication, which is printed on a small paper. It is easy to carry, colorful, attractive, and legible to read. They are handed out to all the passers-by. These are useful mainly for restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, political campaigns, delis, concerts, rallies, political campaigns, etc. People are more prompted to throw it away without reading. Hence, many a time this fails to be an effective medium of mass communication.
Billboards or hoardings are huge advertisements that are put up at a height in strategic locations to fetch more attention. They usually attract the targeted audience by their bold colors, attention-grabbing headlines, creativity, designs, special effects, etc. Initially, billboards started by hand painting huge boards, and eventually graduated to putting up printed sheets. Later came a trend for incorporating neon signs, videos, and graphic cut-outs, etc.
Such billboards are called bulletins. They command the best customer exposure. Communication in these types of billboards should be in minimum words. The images should speak louder than the words. They are a successful medium of communication as they are good at captivating and retaining customer attention.
A press release is an important device of communication because it takes the relevant communication directly to the press. Whenever government, organizations, NGOs, retail outlets, design houses, celebrities, etc., have a newsworthy announcement to make, they draft a press note which is then sent to the members of the press in the form of a hard copy, fax, mail, or CD. A press release is also distributed in a press conference.
A press release answers all the “W type” questions like what, who, where, how, and when, in its content. A quote of the spokesperson is also added to give it credibility. This is issued on the letterhead of the organization. It begins with a headline and dateline, and closes with the media contact for the organization. Most of the matter in a press release gets picked up by journalists, hence it should be worded wisely and strategically.
Last but not the least, books are a significant medium of mass communication as they have a large reader base. The expressions and opinions of the writer are taken to the readers in the form of a compiled book.
The printed form of communication was popular earlier. However, with the advent of electronic media, print media has taken a backseat. Although, it is said that the electronic, or new age media have replaced the print media, there exists a majority of audience who prefer the print media for various communication purposes. However, it is true that, print media harms the environmental balance with its requirement for paper and chemical ink. Also, disposing off redundant print material is a problem. Most of the people today have television sets, radios, and Internet access which are sustainable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective forms of communication. Moreover, print is a one way communication, while electronic media allows interaction.
Electronic media is the kind of media which requires the user to utilize an electric connection to access it. It is also known as ‘Broadcast Media’. It includes television, radio, and new-age media, like Internet, computers, telephones, etc.
Television appeals both the auditory and visual senses, and hence is an important communication device as it beholds the attention of the audience. For many people, it is impossible to imagine a life without their television sets, be it the daily news, or even the soap operas. Television has become an advertising hub where advertisers are ready to spend huge amounts for an ad of few seconds, especially for programs with high viewership.
An apt example would be, Super Bowl Season. It offers various programs to appeal the masses of different age groups. It is a popular means of communication which provides both information and entertainment. This category also includes electronic media like movies, CDs and DVDs as well as the electronic gadgets.
It has a significant reach. A considerable number of Americans tune into radio every week while on their way to work. Advertising on the radio with catchy jingles and phrases is a tried and tested means of communication. The radio lost its popularity with the boom of television. But till day, it remains one of the favorite means of electronic communication. Moreover,it is an interactive means of communication with all dial-in programs which give the listeners an opportunity to feature on radio.
New Age Media
With the advent of Internet, we are now enjoying the benefits of high technology mass media, which is not only faster than the old school mass media, but also has a widespread range. Mobile phones, computers, and Internet are often referred to as the new-age media. Internet has opened up several new opportunities for mass communication which include email, websites, podcasts, e-forums, e-books, blogging, Internet TV, and many others, which are booming today. Internet has also started social networking sites, which have redefined mass communication all together. Sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have made communication to the masses all the more entertaining, interesting, and easier!
Mobile phones have become a boon to mankind. It has made communication possible at anytime, and from anywhere. Nowadays, mobile phones are not only used for interaction, but also for other technical utilities, like operating pumps from remote locations, etc. You can also get alerts of your monetary transactions on a mobile phone. Today, we can stay in touch with the whole world via Internet on our mobile phones.
With the invention of computers the impossible has become possible. We virtually get information about everything from pin to piano with the help of computers. It has added speed and multimedia to the information, which was earlier available only in the print format. Also, anyone can voice their opinions through computers. Computers have added a new breakthrough in the mass media by combining human intelligence with the cutting edge technology.
It’s the most important device of the new age media. The discovery of Internet can be called the biggest invention in mass media. In the earlier days, news used to reach people only with the morning newspaper. But today, live updates reach us simultaneously as the events unfold. For example, the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William was watched live on the Internet by millions of people around the world. It’s inspired interaction and connectivity through its social networking medium.
Emails or electronic mails have drastically reduced the time for drafting and sending letters or mails. Electronic mails have also facilitated lesser usage of paper.
Internet has a plethora of websites dedicated to various people, companies, brands, causes, activities, etc. The most significant utility of these websites is for providing information, search engines, downloads through libraries, and interaction through the social networking sites. Because of these websites, carrying out e-commerce transactions has also become easy.
Podcasts are mediums of mass communication that include short video or audio files. They can be seen and heard on mobiles, computers, and portable media instruments. They are engaging devices of communication.
eForums are bulletin boards on websites where people start threads on topics. These are usually hosted on a website. These forums are open platforms to discuss a range of topics right from which wall color is appropriate for a baby girl’s room to the research on the God particle. People give their opinions and share their experiences on various topics.
A blog is a space on the Internet where a single person or a group of people record their information, opinions, photos, videos, etc. It is an interesting and free platform to talk about any topic. Interaction happens in the form of comments or feedback.
It is also known as online TV. It usually has an archive of programs. You have to choose the program, you wish to view from the list. You can either view the programs directly from the host server, or download the content on your computer. It is an effective means of communication.
It is the most popular social networking website. Facebook has several applications which people utilize. It is the best platform to meet old friends, or make new ones. Advertisers also like this forum for communicating about their products.
It is also a famous social networking website. Twitter is a microblogging site, which allows interaction and feedback of different people. There was a time when it was very popular among celebrities and individuals. Today, the governments of various nations have understood the importance of “tweeting” information to the public, and regularly share information through Twitter.
It is a website which uploads content in a video format. It houses a range of interesting videos that appeal to people of all generations. From films to educational videos, you will find everything on YouTube.
Visual media like photography is also a crucial medium, since it communicates via visual representations. Public speaking, and event organizing can also be considered as forms of mass media. Though print media is still popular, it is not environmentally viable. More and more people are shifting to e-newspapers, eBooks, e-brochures, etc. Internet has completely transformed the traditional ideas of communication. Mass communication, over a period of years, has depicted an evolving trend, and with the advancements in technology, it will continue to do so in future too. All you have to do is keep yourself abreast with the latest innovation in mass communication!