Media relations in a period of multi-crisis

The weather is turning colder, we are fully immersed in autumn, and many of our minds are turning towards the end of the year and what lies ahead for 2023.  

While we’re not always of the mindset that the turning of the year requires ‘a whole new PR plan’ (we don’t all turn into pumpkins at midnight on New Year’s Eve, right?), we did think it would be useful to share some thoughts on how the European media landscape has changed in the last 12 months, and what we need to bear in mind going into 2023. 

In short, we’re operating in a period of multi-crisis. After two or more years of Covid dominating the world’s (and therefore the media’s) agenda, earlier this year the world’s focus was catapulted overnight towards Ukraine. Against that backdrop, we now find ourselves across Europe facing huge economic, political and social challenges. From cost of living and energy crises, to huge political and even recent monarchical change in the UK, this really is an unprecedented time. And we have tried to make sense of it and support PR and marketing professionals with the recent launch of the Tyto Relevance Index, a data-powered insights service that provides our clients and subscribers a monthly view of the most hotly debated global themes and trends at both a pan-European and country level. It’s no surprise that geopolitical conflict and instability was the most prominent macro topic of social posts across the countries we analysed. Through analysing both social-economic topics and technology topics in parallel, the Tyto Relevance Index provides a multidimensional view of how the European technology community is engaging with and responding to the greatest challenges facing the world.  

Going back to the media side of things. What is important to bear in mind with regards to the media landscape in Europe as we go into 2023? I am going to point out three things that have changed and what that means for our clients. 

 

‘Quick wins’ are no longer a thing – quality is on demand 

The world is increasingly turbulent, headline stories are everywhere, and there are far fewer journalists to tell them. Media houses generally have less time and human resources to cover non-urgent stories. Longer-form analysis or features are increasingly rare, especially in trade publications. 

Stretched for time and often unable to dive deeply into subjects, journalists are on the hunt for oven-ready real world tangible stories and the actions/customer examples that support them. Because of this PRs used to spend 20% of their time researching and 80% of their time pitching and following up; now it’s the opposite. 

What does this mean for our clients? Focus on quality over quantity  

Our media efforts should be increasingly moving to a more qualitative rather than quantitative approach. 

To achieve coverage which drives true business value we need to be spending 80% of our time researching, planning and sourcing (the right story, customer example, tailored approach for each journalist) and 20% of the time pitching.  

Stories should be provided to journalists fully formed, with supporting data and, ideally, primary research. Numbers still drive headlines and so an investment in research as part of a feature pitch can pay dividends.

A thematically driven media landscape 

Being relevant and timely is more vital than ever before, and companies are having to demonstrate a clear relevance to a wider news agenda in order to cut through. 

Globally relevant news (like the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and more recently Queen Elizabeth’s death), or mega-trends (climate change, economic uncertainty, demographic shifts) continue to dominate the media agenda. Being able to join the conversation and be part of the media narrative around those key themes is a major challenge. 

Media has shifted its focus to covering two main things – massive global news and micro local stories that tie directly to the day-to-day topics that people and businesses care about the most – such as inflation, energy crisis, geo-political issues. 

As a result, journalists are ever more critical of businesses that play buzz word bingo or attempt to jump on topics they can’t credibly comment on. 

What does this mean for our clients? We must ensure relevance and agility 

Messaging should take a thematic approach – what trends can we offer genuinely new thoughts and insights on (whether the topic is as macro as ‘the global economic crisis’ or as micro as a small update to some local regulation/legislation).

Whether it is data stories, human stories, or genuinely news-worthy news, it is more important than before to have locally relevant content and use cases and to be agile enough to update/adapt as the news agenda evolves.  

We need to be able to jump on topical issues your audience cares about at that specific moment. And we need to understand your stance or perspective on globally relevant issues and events. 

Again, our Tyto Relevance Index data and insights may help you craft that locally relevant content. Have a look here! 

There is no scope for average 

The media has zero tolerance for generic company messaging around “disruptive technology” or “innovation”. The technology media has been burned before (e.g. Theranos, WeWork) and grandiose company claims or corporate messaging is rightly subject to increasing scrutiny. 

‘Product innovation’ in and of itself is no longer a story – the focus is now on the end impact it is having on businesses and society. It’s about showing, not telling how technology can help solve today’s biggest challenges. 

What does this mean for our clients? Shifting our focus from ‘What’ to ‘Why’ 

To help you take your organisation’s narrative to the next level and engage with relevant media in Europe, we must unlock the ‘WHY’ behind anything we are pitching. Over the next few months, you’ll find us more and more often asking you the following questions: 

  • Why is this important to you (what impact will this have on your business?)? 
  • What impact will it have on readers and your target audience? 
  • Why should the world care? 
  • Why should a journalist write about this now? 
Featured image credits: Pexels