Changes to media during the pandemic aren't going away any time soon
COVID-19 has undeniably changed our world in almost every way. How the media functions now is no exception. The way journalists receive information, conduct interviews and construct stories has shifted as they respond to the persisting pandemic and shifted interpersonal interaction norms. COVID-19 – whether it be new outbreaks, reinfections, ongoing clinical trials, health disparities, etc. – make national and international headlines on a daily basis despite competing stories like enduring presidential election vote counts. Aside from obvious changes to the way journalism is done nowadays, here are a few major shifts in the industry and how you can use this information to make your pitches more successful.
JOURNALISTS LOST JOBS TOO
Millions of people lost their jobs after businesses lost big-time money amid months-long shutdowns including journalists. While small, independent local outlets are more likely to feel the pinch of understaffed newsrooms, even the big stations and outlets have been impacted. Less reporters means less time to cover everything. Perhaps they no longer have a person dedicated to sports or finance, which may significantly impact you if your client is in one of those industries. Remember to be kind and understanding if you're working with a reporter from an organization that has let staff go. They're under a great deal of pressure to pick up slack and produce a large amount of content in little time. Offer to help in any way you can and you may find yourself finding opportunities to control the narrative more than you otherwise would with a full staff.
ZOOM IS THE NEW IN-PERSON INTERVIEW
There was a time when TV stations would laugh at the thought of airing a virtual interview. Now, while reporters may begin to voice their Zoom fatigue, most are willing to accept a virtual interview in lieu of an in-person one to respect social distancing guidelines. The opportunity to continue using Zoom and Skype interviews opens a door for PR professionals to coordinate interviews more conveniently with little effort on the interviewees part. While reporters may begin requesting in-person interviews soon, it's valuable to know that virtual interviews are now standard and possible. Virtual interviews may require a bit of media training to make sure people know how to dress, proper lighting and camera positioning to look their best. Here are a few tips to help look as polished as possible.
YOU'RE THE NEW CAMERA PERSON
Typically, videographers and photographers are sent onsite to capture images or footage on behalf of their organization. They still do this when possible, but those opportunities have dwindled in number. Now, reporters may rely more on their media or public relations contacts to secure visuals for their stories, particularly broadcast journalists. They still need b-roll and still images to fill in segments and will always take more than less. Having visuals on hand or the ability to get the visuals may increase your chances of getting a placement.