We’re in lockdown 3.0, so people must stay at home.  PRs are facing the challenges this poses journalists and readers yet again.  The fear of the unknown is not as high this time round, thanks to the fact that we’re better prepared.

The media landscape shifted

We know the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the news media industry with platforms such as City AM, London Live and The Nudge suspending operations.  We’ve also seen many titles shut down or cut back on pages.   With the diminishing number of publications, or staff being furloughed, quality over quantity has never been so important.

The content given to journalists needs to be extra relevant and particularly helpful for readers stuck at home.

Over the last few months, readers have been spending more time in the kitchen, cooking from scratch and experimenting with different cuisines.  This has meant that the appetite for recipes, meal kits and more has exploded.  Journalists were writing about topics such as scaled-down recipes (with easily accessible ingredients), product roundups and services relevant for the booming market of budding at-home cooks.

With changing consumer behaviour patterns, editors were also keen to hear if the British public were buying more of particular products.

We also found journalists were more open to using branded content if it could replace pieces which needed to be cut because of lockdown, such as restaurant reviews or new openings.  Hearing what chefs were creating in lockdown helped inspire readers who wanted to recreate restaurant-quality food at home.  Strong imagery plus any content that could be maximised, living in print and the online space, was also preferable.

Amongst all the doom and gloom, journalists (and consumers) were looking for some positive content, so  stories of homegrown brands that were doing especially well in lockdown were sought after.

 The trends we’re seeing for 2021

No one has a crystal ball so planning too far ahead is a gamble.  The continued uncertainty of COVID-19, a deep recession as well as political turbulence will all impact the mood of the nation, but there are pockets of opportunity that are ripe for exploration in 2021.

With news of the vaccine (THANK YOU SCIENCE), we can see light at the end of the tunnel.  The new restrictions will take time to feed through so it’s likely we’ll be living with safeguards for the next couple of months.

With this in mind, we’re adapting our PR plans with practical advice paired with escapism.  This means that the very seasonal themes in Q1 such as Valentine’s Day are less relevant now than more wide-ranging, evergreen ideas.  Examples include content on learning new skills virtually, being frugal with food, and trying to improve everyday health.

The travel industry is likely to get a must-needed boost from pent-up demand when restrictions ease.  Journalists are looking for inspirational features for when we can travel – from bucket-list roundups to group hikes.   As the restrictions are likely to ease gradually rather than with a bang, it’s likely staycations will be back on the agenda so things we can do in the UK are also something we’re considering.

With 2021 here, journalists will also be looking at new habits that have formed over the past months, and the positive impact that’s had on physical and mental health – an important topic that is making waves as more and more people speak out about the harms of a 24-hour fast-paced world, the benefits of reducing screen time and managing work/life balance well.

Come the spring/summer, restrictions may ease but large mass gatherings are still unlikely. For any events, we’re looking into keeping them media-worthy but with a socially distanced back-up, or ones we can convert to virtual – at pace – if and when necessary.