The pivot playbook – where and how to pitch in a changed media landscape

Newsroom know-how
May 14, 2020
Re-imagining communications in a COVID world 
May 28, 2020

As PR professionals, pivoting is par for the course. Ducking, weaving and finding new approaches as we negotiate with media to achieve results for clients is a perennial part of our playbook.  

But the pandemic pivot is shaking up business and industry sectors like never before. We are being called to reshape and reinvigorate as we address current changes and challenges, and plan for more uncertainty ahead. Even more so with the ever-evolving media landscape. 

With so many businesses and brands having to re-group, reframe, pause, and reset, we are all becoming more adept at adapting. We are stretching ourselves and trying to do things in new and different ways.  

To support our clients, we are focussing on how to better connect with audiences, looking at new ways to engage with the media and how they want to engage with us. This urgency is driving us to diversify and delve into new strategies to adapt to both client and media needs. 

A changed media landscape  

Movement and change across the media is not new to us in PR. Always on the lookout for editorial opportunities and monitoring media consumption trends, we have already seen plot twists to traditional media which predates the pandemic.  

Fairfax and News Corp job cuts over recent years have seen reduced resources across newsrooms and more recently we’ve witnessed the imminent closure of longstanding news agency Australian Associated Press 

In May alone we learned that leading independent digital site BuzzFeed and online news site 10 Daily were shutting down. News Corp announced we’ll say goodbye to over 100 regional and community print editions (digital content will remain), while 14 titles will close altogether.   

Closing digital doors aren’t the only change in the media landscape, print giant Bauer Media have paused seven fashion, lifestyle and celebrity titles with plans to restructure part of its business. 

Yet with this seemingly fractured landscape, readers and viewers are flocking to news, with the top 10 news websites up by 54 per cent on the previous four weeks at the end of March due to coronavirus news.  

University of Canberra study reports that news consumption had increased during the pandemic with 70 per cent of respondents saying they were accessing news at least once a day, compared to 56 per cent in 2019. Increased emphasis on streaming services and social media were also noted. 

Navigating the COVID media landscape and beyond 

With the COVID economy in flux and impacting the life of media outlets, organisations’ need to get creative with their content to reach target audiences and optimise digital communications.  

For us, it’s also about extending our offering as part of our unique symbiotic relationship with the media.  

This means helping to deliver relevant, accurate, timely and compelling content. It means changing up our approaches with more podcast and video content opportunities; offering CEO interviews from home and guest webinars.  

It means seeding content across Facebook community groups and zoom panels. It also means finding thought leadership opportunities which offer opinion pieces and expert analysis on wider trends with commentary on customer and industry implications.  

Digital platforms are also stepping up. House of Instagram has just launched to support Australian businesses citing a place where communities, creators and brands can connect to take steps out of the COVID-19 crisis. 

With media under pressure in terms of job security and deadlines to deliver quality content, they are increasingly relying on PR input. It’s a chance to take brave, bold steps, try new strategies and unshackle ourselves from old habits. 

Long may this continue as we all navigate more interesting times ahead.