Coronavirus: Media update 06/05/20

Seven weeks of lockdown have passed and people either seem to be getting comfortable with lockdown life, or climbing the walls. In our team, it’s certainly a case of a bit of both! As usual, we’ve been keeping in close contact with our media contacts and below you’ll find a roundup of news, updates and insights from the past week based on these conversations, as well as insights we’ve collected by keeping our ear to the ground of the PR and marketing world. 


Changing media landscape

Last week, we were really pleased to see some key journalists being pulled off furlough and back into work after just three weeks off. Our largest regional paper, the Manchester Evening News, started bringing some of its specialist reporters back last week, after running on a more reduced function for the weeks prior. This is good news for businesses with specialist angles that don’t want to risk their story getting stuck with the news desk. The MEN’s ‘CityLife’ entertainment writers were some of those returning to work, so if you’ve got a story that might be relevant to them, send it over - no surprise that editorial is currently focused on ‘staying in’!


We’ve also found that many trade magazines in our key industry sectors are going digital only for the next couple of months. While that means there are still ample opportunities to get your brand seen online, it might make some think twice about booking print adverts for at least the next month or so, as it can more difficult to get the desired impact online. So, if you’re still buying advertising, be sure to ask the publication if they’re still planning on running print editions.


In addition, journalists are becoming more receptive to email pitches. Whilst it’s a PR’s prerogative to just pick up the phone, it’s been difficult to do this in many cases, with offices being empty. Luckily, we’ve found that journalists are replying quickly on email, if you have a good pitch. A few really simple tips here are: take the time to find the right journalist at the title and address them by name; never use a template email; ensure that you offer journalists something bespoke; package the story so they know exactly what they’re getting; show them you read their work by citing a relevant story / angle they’ve written previously and how that links in with what you’re pitching. A good pitch really does go a long way, so make sure you invest some time in it.


This week’s popular angles

With Government releasing draft papers this week on what getting back to the office might look like, we’ve seen a real influx in stories around ‘the new office’, ‘what back to work will look like’ and ‘preparing your business for increased social distancing’. If you have something to say around this theme now’s the time, but be quick about it, as it’ll be old news soon!


National media are looking to profile firms that are pivoting or finding new ways of doing business. The Telegraph is currently running an ‘Open for business’ feature which looks at case studies of businesses have adapted their strategies accordingly, as well as their plans for coming out of lockdown thriving. If you think your organisation might be a good fit for this, send your pitch to one of the publication’s business editors. 


We’re also still seeing offers of free services and help coming in thick and fast from organisations across the country. Here in Manchester, our clients Manchester Digital and the Greater Manchester Cyber Resilience Centre are offering free three-month memberships to those in need. These stories are still being covered by journalists, so if you are doing something to benefit other businesses or your sector, the media will be happy to hear about it.



In general, we’re starting to see a levelling out when it comes to the type of stories the media are looking. Yes, COVID-19 updates are still high up the list, but there's now an increasing number of journalists requesting stories that have nothing to do with it – it’s certainly been more noticeable this week. So, don’t presume that the only thing journos want to hear about is something related to the virus. It’ll probably be a welcome change for them to receive a pitch containing something else! Business desks in general are keen to profile strong businesses and those that will keep the economy going over the next few months, so why not try pitching a profile feature, or an update on your business’ plans over the next few months?


Agility remains key

Things are changing fast and with Government due to release more information on its lockdown exit strategy this week, the media landscape will likely have all changed again by the time we’re back in work on Monday after the bank holiday. So, the most important thing for businesses and brands to do when it comes to their PR and marketing, is simply to stay agile. Before you go out with any content, assess the market and ensure it’s appropriate for that moment in time, be ready to change what you were due to do at the drop of the hat, and before you pitch any story to the media, ensure you’ve read up on the latest updates to ensure everything you say is still relevant. Those PR and comms teams that have an eye for detail and can react quickly will be the ones that succeed. 


Other useful sources

We wanted to finish this week’s roundup with a couple of sources our team has been referring to a lot over the past few weeks. The Press Gazette has been a very useful source of information on all things relating to journalism throughout the crisis. This list of articles and advice is extensive and we’ve been referring back to it a lot. You can also check out PR Week’s live Coronavirus blog, for ongoing reporting of the virus’ impact on PR and comms. 


We hope you’ve found this email useful. If you have any questions or would like any specific tips on how to communicate through this period, don’t hesitate to get in touch - info In the meantime, we hope you have a brilliant bank holiday weekend!

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