How do you feel about reading or watching the news at the moment?
Want to see enough about the spread of coronavirus and its implications to understand what’s happening – but, for your own sanity, balance the often hard-to-hear reports with news of how people are battling it with kindness, courage and humour – those stories that restore your faith in humanity?
Also want a break to know about what’s happening locally and globally that has absolutely nothing to do with Covid-19?
If that’s the case, your thinking pretty much mirrors the areas that journalists are interested in during this unprecedented pandemic.
Covering the impact
It’s not letting any cats out of the bag to say that journalists want individuals, businesses and other organisations to come forward if they have a story to tell about coronavirus and how it’s changed things for them.
News outlets top the poll on where the UK is getting its coronavirus information – and throughout January 2020 alone, more than 41,000 English-language print news articles mentioned the word ‘coronavirus’, and almost 19,000 included it in their headlines, according to data from LexisNexis.
Reporters want to put the spotlight on everything from those providing testing to the postponement of events.
With many working from their home desks, they’re putting out appeals for information and case studies in all sorts of ways, including through PR agencies like ours, community groups, social media and their own websites, like this invite from the Guardian for young people to share their experiences: www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/06/young-people-how-has-your-life-changed-under-the-coronavirus-lockdown.
The media is also looking for reactions to specific developments as the weeks go by. The team at J&PR regularly receives calls from journalists asking if any clients can comment on the latest updates from the Government and other sources.
We’re in this together spirit
At the same time, journalists want people to share how communities are supporting each other as we negotiate new ways of living. Reporters like Jennifer Meierhans at the BBC are writing pieces dedicated to people making a difference during these tough times, asking people to send in their uplifting stories: https://twitter.com/JenMeierhans/status/1244521721232863232.
These stories are about local heroes, selfless acts, the kindness of strangers, people thinking of others, going that extra mile to put others first and community efforts to boost resilience during and post-lockdown, such as:
- Volunteers making sure neighbours and strangers get food and supplies.
- Teachers making Personal Protective Equipment for hospitals and hospices.
- Nursery children writing letters and drawing pictures for care home residents to help raise spirits.
- A Business Improvement District encouraging and helping people to buy gift cards, experiences or products from their favourite businesses while they are closed.
But they don’t want their papers, magazines, websites and programmes just filled with coronavirus-connected news. Everyone needs a break – some light relief or just a distraction.
Businesses and other organisations need to remind people they are operating and people should not be shy in sharing news that has no reference to Covid-19.
There’s no need to fade into the background – it’s okay to get your brand or idea out there – keep shouting about what you do as people want to hear from you.
And let’s face it people are still working, businesses are still running so don’t be afraid to tell people what you are doing and release any good news stories.
Clear and connected
The usual rules apply – be clear, don’t use jargon, and explain the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ – plus a good photo, of a decent resolution, is always appreciated by the media.
Oprah Winfrey said: “Everybody has a story. And there’s something to be shared from every experience”.
We agree wholeheartedly – it’s more important than ever to keep connected. So don’t be afraid to build those media relationships – the journalists will remember you and come back to you when this is all over – and by sharing your stories you’ll help to leave a legacy of how we got through this together.