Coronavirus: Media update 24/04/20

As we’re all finding new ways to adapt to the challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 crisis and the lockdown, brands and the media are finding new ways of working. Below you’ll find a roundup of news, updates and insights from the past week based on our conversations with journalists, as well as insights we’ve gleaned by keeping our ear to the ground.

Changing media landscape

The pressure on the media continues to take its toll, with titles furloughing staff, closing desks, postponing issues or, in a few cases, closing completely. Journalists who are able to keep working are seeing short-term restrictions on what and how they report, as access to most places is severely restricted and they could even be removed from public areas by the police. It’s worth thinking about what the long-term changes to the media are going to be.

If you’re finding that outlets you’ve worked with for a long time are no longer operating, look for titles in the same space that are likely to attract the news, advertisers and readers of the other publication. A recent example in the social housing sector is 24 Housing which closed this month, however Inside Housing is still functioning and providing news.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for new titles as sectors that are doing well out of the crisis could see new publications emerge, such as Innovision which launched this week for the data centre market.

Brands becoming key influencers during COVID-19

Media outlets with a strong appeal among young males are leveraging their audience to broadcast public awareness messages that would normally be outside of their remit in order to reach a demographic the government is struggling to connect with. An example of this among the media is LADbible, which now attends the daily COVID-19 press briefings. The website is using its ability to engage the group which is most likely to ignore social distancing rules and which is less likely to consume traditional media. As a brand, Paddy Power is doing something similar by creating campaigns designed to encourage its audience to conform with government guidelines - something which the company feels it has a ‘responsibility to do’. This has included campaigns such as ‘give the NHS better odds this week, stay at home’ and playing off the fact that company ambassador Peter Crouch is the all-important two metres tall.

Low tech becoming the new norm

As a lot of people are away from their editing suites, many news outlets are happier to accept lower quality content that doesn’t have all the polish they would normally expect. In addition, broadcasters are becoming increasingly tolerant of Skype or Zoom to conduct interviews, and in fact many are seeing the benefits of using video calls to easily access a broader range of interviewees. These experiences might mean that homemade content and video calls become more acceptable after the crisis is over. It’s also worth mentioning that everyone is going through the same issues with video calls right now, so if you’re doing an interview or hosting a webinar and the audio pauses or your connection freezes, don’t panic! We’ve all been there, we’re all only human and the audience will understand.

Even though it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s important to bear in mind that there is an increased emphasis on the speed and agility of supplying content due to the fact that the news agenda is rapidly changing and therefore brands need to keep pace.

This week’s popular angles

With COVID-19 angles, there’s been an increase in appeals for heart-warming tales about how people are coping with the crisis (with Captain Tom Moore’s epic walk for the NHS epitomising this). In addition, insights into what the world might look like post-lockdown are common. In general, trade titles are eager to explore what their specific industries are going to look like, regionals are interested in the effect on their local area and nationals are looking at bigger picture answers.

For brands, engaging in relatable conversations and talking around the issues that people are finding themselves in is proving very popular. This doesn’t have to directly refer to the virus but could pick up on the issues that everyone is currently facing, such as keeping active and working from home.

In contrast to the above, there is an appetite for news that has nothing to do with the virus and some papers are even advertising COVID-19 free news sources, such as the Telegraph’s “In other news” newsletter which is dedicated to stories with no mention of the pandemic.

Summary

In this week’s round up we can see that some of the trends and pressures from previous weeks remain and are mostly growing as time goes on. The media and the conversations in general are turning increasingly to what the world will be like - what will survive, what will change and what will disappear, a conversation which is also likely to grow in intensity. 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.

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