PR Training

Coronavirus Has Changed the Media — and Those Changes Are Here to Stay

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the national conversation every day, proving that it’s not going anywhere and that the world will simply have to adapt.

However, those adaptations aren’t just coming from health-care workers, elected officials and business owners.

With work-from-home setups and adjustments along the way, many communicators have likely found a way to continue working through the pandemic. But our media colleagues who we rely on to share our stories, haven’t had such an easy time adjusting.

From layoffs to slumping ad sales, and even different ways segments are produced, the media landscape is constantly changing — and some of those changes are here to stay.

At MediaSource, we’ve been using our deep connections in media to stay in touch with our journalist colleagues and find out what’s changing, what they need and how our profession will evolve because of it.

Here are just some of the ways the pandemic has shifted how the media works, both in the short- and long-term, and how your team can respond:

Layoffs change the dynamic.

Across the country, businesses in all industries are being forced to furlough workers and make layoffs. And despite Americans’ need for news on the pandemic, media organizations have not been spared from these difficult times.

News organizations are laying off more workers every day, which makes an ever-changing media landscape even more difficult to navigate.

Remember to be kind and compassionate to those journalists now looking for work. It’s also important to be thoughtful and cognizant of the difficulties faced by their colleagues working with fewer people in the newsroom. How can you make their job easier? Do you have content to provide?

You can’t just swap one contact for another and ask, “Did you get the release I sent to your former colleague?” That strategy won’t do much to advance your cause and make new friends.

Attitudes shift about virtual interviews.

There was once a time when a journalist would scoff at the idea of an interview over Skype or Google Hangouts. Now, these are tools that they need to use to do their jobs.

The combination of TV-worthy tech and the lack of close-quarters contact required to create a segment means that virtual interviews and filmed components of news packages are likely here to stay.

For your PR team, this should be seen as a positive. Not only do you have a way to get your content to its target audience during the pandemic, but news stations also have another way of interviewing your sources if they can’t meet in person or travel to a studio.

Nimble coverage is crucial.

Updates on the pandemic are coming fast, and that makes things difficult for both PR teams and the media.

More than ever, news organizations are prioritizing content that is relevant to the current moment. They know their readers and viewers are demanding the newest information, and they don’t have time to devote to more evergreen topics.

These rapid changes make timely content crucial for PR pros. If your story isn’t relevant now, then it may not be worth pitching. Even if something may become outdated quickly, news sources are doing their best to capitalize on each new piece of information.

The advertising landscape may never be the same.

As brands suffer across the globe, many companies are postponing or canceling their ad campaigns. That’s bad news for publications that rely on advertising to make up large portions of their budgets.

When the pandemic has subsided, things may stay different. Advertisers are flocking to bigger names like Google and Facebook, which may permanently change the news landscape.

Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, an award-winning communications agency that specializes in video production, public relations, social media and strategic insights, constantly securing national exposure for major brands. Connect with Lisa on Twitter: @LisaArledge

Photo credit: fgc

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Lisa Arledge Powell

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