The excellent site What’s New in Publishing has put out a new report titled The Publisher’s Guide to Navigating Covid-19
, looking at eight trends that have emerged globally, as well as strategies that publishers have implemented as a result of increased web traffic.
Let’s take a look at four of those trends and see how they affect smaller publishers.
COVID-19 has changed our media habits. We’re spending more time with streaming services, social media and messenger services. Gaming has also seen a major pandemic bump. “Many people say that they expect their new habits to continue after the COVID-19 outbreak passes too,” said Simon Kemp. “One in five internet users say they expect to continue watching more content on streaming services, and one in seven (15%) say they expect to continue spending more time using social media.” Given this, they say, publishers need to find more ways in which they can make their new relationships with audiences as “sticky” as they can—to take advantage of the now-waning COVID bump.
“We need to think how we can make our news and information [continue to be] relevant, but especially how we can make people aware about the width and breadth of coverage we can do…,” Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at The Washington Post, told us in May. "We're thinking very deeply about what are the things, the products, the tools that we can offer our audience and how can we bridge [new subscribers] from caring about the news in the time of the virus to caring about the news when things are going better."
Publishers are producing new products. As I wrote recently, we’re seeing new whitepapers like InsideARM, which addresses the debt industry, promoting a free whitepaper titled Succeeding in Collections Today Requires More Agility. Future plc must have read the WNIP report because independent media analyst Alex DeGroote said this: “Some of its products skew towards gaming—like Techradar—and gaming has gone nuts in lockdown.”
According to members of WAN-IFRA’s Global Media Trends Panel, more than half of the editorial executives they surveyed had launched new products as a result of the pandemic. “Newsletters are the most common product,” they found, “with some 55% saying they have launched them, followed by infographics (49%), and videos and live blogs (30%).” Interestingly, further research found that the decrease in commuters has been offset by consumers listening to more podcasts (ranging from 13-16% globally). There has even been growth in advertising revenue for podcasts.
People, more than ever, need a broad content mix. The Pew Research Center reported that, “about seven-in-ten Americans (71%) say they need to take breaks from news about the coronavirus, and 43% say the news leaves them feeling worse emotionally.” So even if you draw people in with COVID-related content, you can only keep them engaged with more variety. “This may involve telling stories in fresh and innovative ways, exploring new beats and approaches to storytelling (such as solutions journalism),” they write. “To this, I would also recommend looking more at the power of your archive, evergreen content, and highlighting stories from the past 3-4 months which may have been overlooked as a result of the pandemic.”
Focus on starting and building a long-term relationship. “At the risk of sounding too cynical, the increased digital readership is an opportunity for publishers to tout their vital role in providing news and information to their communities—and to form ties that can last after the crisis subsides,” wrote Rob Williams on MediaPost. Although Deloitte’s latest Digital Media trends survey said that U.S. consumers had an average of 12 paid media and entertainment subscriptions pre-COVID-19, their data also shows that consumers are busy adding new subscriptions (often taking advantage of trial pricing and ad-supported services), cancelling old ones, and also trying out new services.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…