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Five Ways COVID-19 Has Changed the PR Industry

Covid Tests in Pink Background

As PR professionals we are well accustomed to working with fast news cycles, adhering to tight deadlines and putting creative spins on client news to secure the media attention that they deserve. But since the pandemic, the challenges we face when competing for limited airtime or print space have intensified, and we are faced with a new set of issues to navigate. As the ways we communicate have shifted, we compiled five ways in which media relations have changed since the pandemic started in 2020 and why some of these adjustments have proven permanent.

Assessing the Pandemic’s Impact on the PR Industry

1. Standing Out In Crowded News Cycles

Over the past three years, we have lived not only through a global pandemic but also felt the effects of climate change through multiple natural disasters, have witnessed powerful social justice movements and watched as global tensions rise. During times when all news is breaking news, it is more challenging than ever to garner meaningful media coverage for our clients’ projects and initiatives. To stand out among an onslaught of pitches that reporters receive, tailoring, targeting and timing are key. Be sure to do your research, get to know each reporter’s beat and time your pitch around news cycles

2. Adjusting to Longer Lead Times

With the coverage of various momentous global events taking up a lot of airtime, space for other news has become more limited. While securing media placements for an announcement could be easily accomplished on a two-week timeline pre-pandemic, longer lead times are preferred in the now crowded space. Between coordinating interviews, handling follow-up questions, fact-checking and other logistics that go into each article, journalists are often unable to devote the necessary time on a short turnaround when there are multiple breaking news stories they must prioritize.

3. Shifting to Virtual Interviews

Setting up face-to-face meetings and interviews between clients and reporters to get one-on-one time is crucial for building relationships and is a big part of media relations. However, since the pandemic, the majority of interviews have shifted to being virtual. While this has slightly altered the way we prep for meetings, it can often increase clients’ level of comfort when speaking to reporters. Since virtual meetings not only provide increased flexibility for scheduling but also save commuting time, this has stuck since the pandemic. Continuing to find ways to create a genuine connection between the reporter and client, even through Zoom, will be essential in building relationships with the media. 

4. Adapting to a Changing Media Landscape

The media landscape was evolving long before COVID-19 started to spread, with many print publications shuttering and moving to online-only formats. This shift has only been accelerated by and since the pandemic and, with a smaller number of traditional media outlets and a larger amount of news coming out each day, reporters must be more selective than ever with what they choose to cover. The expectation of having a client’s announcement reported in multiple top-tier publications is no longer realistic, and many PR professionals have adapted by seeking out exclusives or more in-depth coverage in a select target outlet instead.

5. Working Around Sensitive News

Being mindful of what is happening in the world each day has become more important than ever. As PR professionals we have always had to keep our finger on the pulse and yield to significant news but, when the world as a whole is going through challenging times, pitching a non-life-altering story on the wrong day can be perceived as anything from out-of-touch to downright offensive. Monitoring news cycles and tailoring our timelines and strategies around world events is key to maintaining strong relationships and attaining key press coverage for our clients. 

In Closing

The tumultuous events of the past three years have represented challenges in all areas of our lives and, as PR professionals, we’ve had to rethink many tried-and-true strategies we’ve relied on in the past. These times have shown us that, as an industry, we have the capacity to pivot quickly and continue to serve our clients in meaningful ways even during turbulent times. The TASC Group continues to monitor industry-wide PR trends to best serve our clients. To learn more about ways that The TASC Group can work with you, please visit our website and review some of our case studies.

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