It’s a well-known fact that a constant diet of gloom and doom, even on the business pages, fails to sell newspapers or their internet equivalents. One of the most extraordinary aspects of this strange time is that middle-aged, educated people in significant numbers are admitting that they have stopped reading the papers, and stopped watching the news on TV. This is a personal coping strategy for many. We’re carrying as much anxiety as we can bear and we don’t want it stoked up further by stories of personal tragedy and economic gloom being beamed into our locked-down lives 24-7.
This is serious news for the press. Readers and eyeballs generate subscriptions and advertising revenues - and editors are looking with increasing desperation at how to entice them back. The media generally were struggling with declining revenues before Covid hit and this has made things much, much worse for them – readership declines are now so significant that publishers are choosing not to release their circulation figures.
From a professional communications perspective, there is a positive side to this. News outlets are crying out for positive stories at the moment. But here’s the rub. They can’t be unconnected to Covid because Covid is dominating our lives whether we like it or not and it looks crass to write something that doesn’t at least reference the most significant event of the last century. So the key is to find positive stories that are pitched through the lens of Covid.
My sense is that some companies in some sectors are finding themselves doing rather well at the moment, but they are diffident about blowing their own trumpets. Somehow it feels wrong to be being successful while others are clearly struggling and will probably go to the wall. But the success stories, those businesses that will generate jobs and keep the fiscal purse filled in a post-Covid and post-Brexit future, should be standing up to be counted in the media now. It’s not indelicate to point out that your business model is able to withstand this terrible time and that you are looking to the future with an air of confidence. There are plenty of companies, in the online world, in professional services and in financial services especially who are doing just fine at the moment. And we want to hear the good news stories that they have to tell.