The State of the Media in 2021 – and What it Means to Your Utility
- Jan 4, 2021 9:06 pm GMT
Other than maybe Zoom, Netflix and Clorox, few businesses are going to look back fondly on 2020.
And while restaurants, the airlines and leisure facilities, among others, were getting especially slammed by the pandemic, 2020 was terrible for an already reeling media.
The media’s been financially besieged for years and the pandemic hastened the demise of some outlets, ended print publication (retaining an online presence) for others and prompted staffing cuts at many of the rest.
At my own weekly paper, the number of reporters was trimmed from four to two. By year’s end, 10 people were putting together the paper. Twenty years earlier, there were 15 people in the news department alone.
Well, all of that is my problem, not yours, but your utility should know the media landscape has changed significantly and how to best work with it.
In some regards, a weaker media is beneficial to businesses. Inexperienced reporters don’t know the right questions to ask, are more willing to accept information at face value and, because they’re overworked, are less likely to vet facts.
That doesn’t mean you should lie to the media, but it does mean you might have an easier time getting your message across unfiltered
Given the heavier workloads on reporters and editors, be sure to make things easy on them. Provide all the information they need, whether it’s a press release, photos, videos, statements, press kits and so on. When asked to provide other material or answer questions, don’t delay. If you snooze, you may well lose.
In addition, offer to provide ready-made copy – in essence, write the story yourself. Many outlets will still either refuse it (or write their own version), but it’s a good starting point. And more and more outlets will take it.
You’ll also have to more frequently update your media lists. If you’re sending press materials to people who no long work at an outlet or don’t cover you any more, that doesn’t help anyone.
Finally, remember that you have an ever-increasing ability to promote yourself, whether it’s through social media, your website, podcasts and whatever new crops up in the coming decade.
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