Coronavirus: Media update 10/06/20

After twelve weeks of lockdown, we’re now approaching what journalists traditionally like to call ‘the silly season’. However, as COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines it’s unlikely that this summer is going to see much silliness on the news.

To help you understand what’s going on in the media landscape, we’ve been keeping in touch with our contacts and below you’ll find a roundup of news, updates and information 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
  • While this is a bad time for the events that the media world generally loves to hold, it has led to the increasing popularity of webinars in their place. Much like with podcasts, which we talked about in our last update, webinars are a great way to reach a mass audience thanks to the fact that they’re online, easy to access and can often be watched at the viewer’s convenience. In fact, as there are no geographical or travel restrictions, event organisers are finding that webinars usually attract a larger audience than their face-to-face alternatives ever did. The volume of webinars now being produced has raised a separate issue, as businesses need to make sure that their webinar is able to cut through the noise, such as by securing high-profile speakers or covering engaging, topical issues.
  • In this video Alex Turner, Joint MD at TheBusinessDesk.com, remarks that there’s an interesting split between the regional and national media, with greater anxiety in the North and Midlands about returning to offices compared to London. On a practical level this could affect how likely you are to get in touch with a reporter if you only have the main news desk phone number and not their individual mobile.  
  • Publications that have a mix of print and digital content continue to see online consumption grow as demand for news increases while conversely print struggles due to lockdown pressures. The rise in online readers was highlighted by a surge in sign-ups to subscription services, a surge which in fact saw the Telegraph make enough to pay back its furlough money. Oliver Shah, Business Editor at The Sunday Times, has acknowledged this catch-22 of growing demand but falling print circulation, although he states that print figures have not been as badly affected as many would think. 
  • It’s important to note that there’s still a lot of continuity in how journalists are operating, especially in the standards they work to and the outcomes they’re looking to achieve. While the cosmetics of how newsrooms function has changed, many are committed to fulfilling the same roles and providing the same news, analysis, commentary and information services as before. 
This week’s popular angles
  • In general, it’s still the big stories that are predominantly getting the cut-through. Oliver Shah, Business Editor at The Sunday Times admits that quirky stories which might have done well this time last year are likely to be shelved right now. He also advises that generic comments are unlikely to get picked up at his title along with surveys, which given the predominance of surveys across the news in general right now is an interesting example of The Sunday Times’ content priorities.
  • Many news outlets are very interested in looking forward to what life will be like in the future, especially around some of the key turning points we know are coming, such as the end of the lockdown, the end of the furlough scheme and the reopening of schools. Looking further ahead, they’ll also be wanting to know about the knock-on impact of the virus on other key points in the calendar like Christmas.

 

  • The news agenda may start shifting away from health and towards the economy, with several big questions dominating, including:
    • Jobs and the employment market
    • Working culture and the rise of automation
    • The government’s debt hangover
    • The credit rating of companies, their levels of debt and exposure to future crises
    • Ongoing state support for specific industries and individual companies
    • Whether tax and interest rates will change
  • Business titles have been talking a lot about the leadership qualities that various businesses have shown, with those that have been happy to display vulnerability really raising their profiles and awareness as leaders that are willing to speak out on critical issues. This ties into the fact that journalists are eager for stories that are more human or community focused rather than about number and stats. Therefore, businesses that have spoken openly about supporting communities and of working together with other companies to overcome challenges have also been gaining traction.
  • As the world is changing so quickly, there’s a lot of opportunity for thought leadership pieces from people who are able to reasonably analyse what’s happening, how it’s affecting their speciality/industry/region and what the long-term impact is likely to be. This ties into the general desire to know who are the leaders are that will be able to steer a course through what’s happening. 
Other useful sources

We wanted to finish this week’s roundup with a few articles that have caught our eye recently:

  • Above we mentioned that reporters are interested in what the future holds and what the long-term effect of COVID-19 will be. Recently Marketing Week looked at how brands need to adapt their marketing strategies during the recovery phase: https://bit.ly/2Y8cPwk
  • Like us, if you love being creative and miss the buzz of bouncing ideas off other people in the office, then check out this article on creative exercises for remote working: https://bit.ly/2XNMGEg
  • The daily schedule of journalists is important for PR and marketing professionals who need to know how to reach them, and it’s often been a topic of these emails. In this article Press Gazette went behind the scenes at the Daily Mail to find out how it has been operating: https://bit.ly/37evivn

We hope you have found this blog useful. If you have any questions or would like any specific tips on how to communicate through this period please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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