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Straight up: The stories the media wants now – and how to tell them

COVID-19 rightly continues to dominate media and peoples’ newsfeeds as people attempt to make sense of the latest developments. But beyond the headlines, what do journalists want to hear about now?

Another in our Straight Up comms advice series, Story’s Sophie Drake crunched the numbers to find the common threads among the near 300 media requests our team received in a two-week period last month.

Back in April, I analysed 100 media enquiries we received in one week. Our research found that while COVID-19 was leading the news agenda, journalists were also on the hunt for positive and uplifting tales as well as ‘business as usual’ news. At that time, there was a strong appetite for a light at the end of the tunnel and flashes of normality in daily news.

Three months on and unsurprisingly, pandemic news still dominates. Interestingly though, the hunger for positive news stories has shifted, with more calls for insight and expert analysis as people dig for trusted guidance and clarity on what happens next.

Finding the experts

Over the course of two weeks in July, we analysed 284 requests from national media outlets.

The number of requests for expert insight, specialist advice and real world case studies jumped from two thirds to 90 per cent. Over half sought guidance on business issues (53 per cent), with many wanting to talk directly to leaders about their challenges, how they were coping and increasingly, how they were adapting their businesses to survive. Almost one in five requests wanted clarity on political announcements and debate and a further 15 per cent wanted help to address tech and digital subjects. 

As Story MD Amanda Lowe put it, COVID-19 means “journalists need experts now, more than ever, to show us what it all really means”

What does this mean for your business?

Be brave and share. 

In a time like no other, people want to know what everyone else is doing, how they are feeling and what can be learnt. It’s human nature. If you can be brave enough to talk about the challenges alongside the successes, you can cut through and build your business’ reputation dramatically. Trust can be won now, and kept for the long term – with the right approach.

The fast-paced nature of business currently – developing as the situation changes and responds to new information – means most have a tale to tell. Whether it is a carefully considered Twitter thread or direct-to-camera home video, honest discussion of the lessons learned, as our own Tom Bradshaw-Smith discusses here, can help others identify with you and inspire the genuine connections businesses are going to need to survive. 

To find out more about how to tell your story and connect with your audience in the current climate, contact me on sophie@wearestorycomms.com.

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