The media is still open for business

Kieran Kent, managing director of Propeller Group

Covid-19 has disrupted the day-to-day ways of working for both the media and the PR industry.

In the midst of this global pandemic, everyone is working frantically to meet deadlines, check the facts in a fast-moving environment and master the new technologies that keep us all connected with each other from our homes. Is Zoom a verb yet?

But the core principles of PR remain the same. To secure coverage in online, print and broadcast channels, businesses need to understand what topics journalists are interested in right now and build the bridge between the stories they are looking for and the narratives that help your company in terms of positive business profile.

As journalists are ultimately serving their audiences it’s the readers who are the arbiters of what makes ‘good content’ for a media outlet. Online metrics will quickly show to editors and writers what topics are getting most interest.

Right now, people are hungrily poring over everything pandemic-related. But what the media needs to fill its news slots, airtime and columns is a little more nuanced than it might seem.

At Propeller we’re in close contact with editors and journalists every day and so have a good sense of what they are looking for.

Accepting Covid-19 is the main story, the media are also looking to move beyond a litany of doom and gloom. Covid-19 is a crucible for a variety of stories that can inspire and give people some comfort, keeping audiences informed, entertained and enlightened. Feedback from several journalists has highlighted areas they’d be receptive to hearing about at the moment:

  • Company culture – whatever your company is doing to keep staff and customers cheerful and upbeat could be a story – either in the relevant trade or vertical press or at a local media level – and don’t underestimate local press. When the world moves back to normal, people will want to work for companies that helped them and their local community in some meaningful way. Titles like Digiday are actively on the hunt for such stories.
  • Company news and new business wins – the media are looking for evidence that companies and the sectors they operate in remain open for business. So, let them know about any recent new hires or client wins you’ve secured in this new virtual business world as these types of stories can boost overall market confidence right now.
  • Remote working – Most of us are now learning how to work in a new way. Despite the remote working trend of recent years, working from home on an occasional basis is very different from working at home full-time and sharing your workspace with housemates or family members. There’s a big appetite for hints and tips on organising remote working for your teams from the media, on how to stay creative and how to manage time.
  • Data insights – stories that are based on solid data and can illuminate consumer trends and behaviours are also welcome. Our travel data co-op client ADARA has been working to help a sector that has been hit hard and has set up the ADARA Travel Trends Tracker which was covered this week in Travolution. Think about carrying out a study amongst your customer base or wider industry to benchmark consumer and business sentiment in the wake of Covid-19.
  • Sport – The absence of live sport has left a huge gap for commentary and analysis and cast sports fans adrift. For those companies who can develop a story around sport – or the lack of it – there is an opportunity. Esports is one possible trend to explore if you can bring some insight to the phenomenon.

In the current climate, companies do need to carefully consider the best comms strategy and how to engage effectively with journalists, but the media remains open for business. Those companies and agencies that can contribute the right ideas and insights, combined with the right tone, can continue to keep brand awareness high whilst navigating their way through the Covid-19 business landscape.