How The Importance Of Media Relations Has Shifted Due to the Pandemic

Jul 05, 2022

PR pros are masters at being flexible and adapting to handle whatever life throws at us…but we’ve had a lot to navigate as the pandemic has altered the media landscape! There’s a ton that goes into landing top-tier coverage for your clients, like storytelling, a creative angle, and great timing. But your connections play a major role, too. And to stay successful, you need to understand the importance of media relations—and how to navigate all the changes we’re experiencing now.

How Has the Importance of Media Relations in PR Changed During the Pandemic? 

PR is ever-evolving. It’s built around what is relevant NOW! 

PR pros are constantly learning from their peers and are switching up their strategies based on the latest trends. And when the pandemic turned the world upside down, that adaptability became more important than ever.

Since then, PR has just become more and more valuable to brands. Companies are prioritizing their investment in PR, both throughout the pandemic and into the future. And as people leave the traditional 9-5 grind in droves (thanks, Great Resignation), they’ll realize the transformative power of PR as they start their own businesses.

The importance of media relations has seriously increased, too. With more brands getting involved in PR and competing for media placements, you’ll need to really rely on your connections with editors to land killer coverage for your clients.

4 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed PR and Reinforced the Importance of Media Relations

Now, it’s up to YOU to navigate the impacts of the pandemic and stay up to date with the ever-changing media landscape. It’s the key to continued success, both for yourself and your clients. Here are four major ways PR has changed and the pandemic has pushed the importance of media relations to the forefront. 

Media Often Requires Longer Lead-Times 

In the past, two weeks of pitching lead time for a big announcement under embargo was the rule to follow. This gave you lots of time to pitch, field media interest, set up interviews, and handle any last-minute requests or follow-up questions. 

But the pandemic has actually doubled the media pitching timeline. A minimum of 3-4 weeks is the best lead-time now, depending on the outlet or reporter you’re working with on a story. There are, of course, some situations where timing is out of your control and outside factors are at play, but this is the new short-lead pitching window to follow. 

Now, handling short-lead and long-lead pitching every month is challenging, no matter how long you’ve been in PR. But inside our signature monthly membership program The Pitch Lab, you’ll get comprehensive monthly execution plans that go over exactly what you should be pitching each month (that’s right—with editorial calendars, famous birthdays, big and small holidays, and long-lead and short-lead opportunities all included). 

Unless you’re representing a HUGE client (like…Tesla huge), media pros will not drop everything to cover your news. Their days are already hectic, and they have limited availability. Part of understanding the importance of media relations is respecting an editor’s time and schedule — the more leeway you can give before an announcement goes live, the better for all parties involved. 

Related: 3 Steps to Create an Effective Press Plan for 2022

Exclusives Are More Important Than Ever

Pre-pandemic, dozens of publications would cover the same launch simultaneously. Now, the exclusive reigns supreme. It’s become a very valuable asset for outlets and reporters alike, which is why exclusives are more prevalent than ever before. 

With exclusives, brands and PR pros have a unique opportunity to tell a richer, more in-depth story for a launch. And since the reporter knows they’ll be the first to report, they can spend more time and resources fleshing out a strong narrative for their piece. 

Plus, exclusives are great relationship builders, both with key outlets and prominent reporters. You can use them to jumpstart a strong connection that, with the continued importance of media relations in PR, could land your clients some critical press in the future. 

The Value of Trade Media Has Increased a Lot 

Publications like The New York Times and Forbes are WOW-factor placements for clients — they’re exciting and impressive features that they always love to see. But with the pandemic, the bar for entry into those outlets has never been higher or more competitive. 

Depending on your pitch angle, high-level coverage like this isn’t always realistic or even the best move strategy-wise. There’s an entire media world outside of those traditional, mainstream publications that’s waiting for your pitches. 

In addition to those massive publications, your client’s desired audience is likely reading a bunch of other outlets with a more narrow focus. This is where you should concentrate your energy. Trade media can be a fantastic way to hone in on an important demographic that’s fragmented or really hard to reach in the mainstream. 

More detailed, complex topics have a home at trade outlets, since traditional media usually doesn’t have the time or space to dive into such nuanced subjects. Reporters there may be experts on the topic already, so they can bring a lot of depth and care to a story. As the pandemic continues, the importance of media relations with editors at trade outlets will take a front seat. 

Related: What is the Best Media Contacts Database for a PR Pro?

Virtual Events Are Here to Stay 

The importance of media relations isn’t just limited to in-person connections. Virtual events, whether they’re product launches, networking conferences, or influencer events, are here to stay. 

Our world is getting back to in-person events, but virtual meetings are still super important. They offer a ton of advantages, like being able to connect with journalists around the world and increased accessibility. Virtual presentations can require a lot more thought to make them exciting and engaging, which can lead to better results overall. 

One way to grow your connections with journalists is through virtual desksides. In The Pitch Lab, we have a whole resource AND masterclass on hosting these meetings that will help you build stronger relationships with editors at any publication. 

The importance of media relations cannot be understated. They’re absolutely crucial to landing major placements in the shifting media landscape, and you need to navigate these changing dynamics with expert ease. Following these strategies will help you strengthen your current connections and build new ones in the future.