Three PR Trends to Invest in During the Pandemic and Beyond

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Against the backdrop of the pandemic, social awakening and journalist furloughs and layoffs, here are three developments PR pros may want to consider.

Get Ready to Handle an Increasing Number of Bylined Article Requests

With the growth of layoffs, furloughs and closures in journalism, an increasing number of media outlets are responding to PR pitches with requests for bylined articles and Q&As. In response, consider the following:

  • Include Bylined Article Offers In Pitches: At the bottom of pitches offer to provide a bylined article on the topic. Add it in the closing sentence alongside the traditional offer to provide an interview, images or additional information.
  • Get Great Writers: If you lack excellent content creators on staff or in your freelance network with the capacity to write quick-turn bylined articles, hire them. Contributed content, including written Q&As and responses, is becoming the norm, so you need plenty of people with writing skills to handle these requests.
  • Consider Hiring Former Journalists: Given the increase in requests for bylined articles and written responses—as well as the growing number of opportunities to write and submit contributed articles—consider hiring laid off journalists.

Consider Pitching—and Producing—Podcasts

Podcast listening is up 42 percent since the pandemic, with the top 10 publishers seeing unique live streams and downloads increase 52 percent in May 2020, compared with May 2019.

The number of podcasts produced also is rising, as people seek new ways to stay productive during the quarantine and publishers look channels and revenue.

CNN launched “Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction” in late February. The daily show had 1 million downloads just one week after launching. Within days, it ranked third on Apple’s podcast list and first in Apple’s News category.

How should PR pros approach podcasts?

  • Pitching and Loyalty: The good news about podcasts is they have very specific and devoted listeners. So they can move the needle for brands that want to reach niche audiences. The bad news: They are much harder to research, and therefore pitch effectively. Getting a feel for a podcast requires listening to several episodes in their entirety. That way you become familiar with its segments, recurring themes, typical guests and style. Start this research now to get ahead of the curve.
  • Production Capabilities: Considering the above, this is the moment to jump into podcast production. While podcasts are the new blogs, unlike blogs on a company website, podcasts can tap into the social media networks of their guests. In other words, if executives have podcasts that invite guests on each week, those guests share the podcast with their social networks. This is a phenomenal way to increase brand recognition.

Get Familiar with Indie and Alternative Media Outlets

While major news outlets continue to struggle and lay off reporters, some indie media units are gaining. For example, “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast gets an estimated 200 million listens and views each month. This is more than four times the reach of the NY Times online, which has 43 million unique viewers per month (UVPM).

Now is the time to look at the growing indie and alternative media scene—and educate executives accordingly. Here are some tips:

  • Research and Lists: Consider including independent media outlets, including podcasts, that reach target audiences when devising media lists. Look at online outlets out of the mainstream media, but which have impressive UVPMs.
  • Are Indie Outlets On-Brand? Ensure you research indie outlets before pitching them. For example, "Zero Hedge" is a libertarian financial blog. If the brand you represent is a mainstream financial institution, this would not be a good fit. "The Intercept" does a lot of investigative stories, so you should probably steer clear of that outlet if your brand seeks vanilla coverage.

This is a stressful time for journalists and PR pros. Still, it is critical to keep on top of how the pandemic and social justice movements are influencing the media landscape. Staying ahead of trends, communicators will have a better chance to remain in control of messages they want to share. They will also be in prime position to explore avenues that are opening even as others are becoming more restrictive or shutting down completely.

April White is president & founder of Trust Relations