Coronavirus is the biggest story in a generation. For weeks, I’ve had news websites open on my browser, regularly refreshing and scrolling through the latest commentary.

I’m not the only one who has found themselves fixated on the headlines. Research from the Global Web Index revealed that 40% of people in the UK have started consuming more news coverage since the Coronavirus outbreak – while 25% have been checking social media more frequently.

The media has been at the core of this evolving pandemic, providing around-the-clock information from across the world while fuelling public dialogue. The types of articles and angles may change day-to-day, but COVID-19 is still very much at the top of the agenda.

But although the whole world is consumed by one topic, the reality is that our clients still have stories to tell – and this has created new challenges for communications professionals. When it comes to media outreach, our tone and timing must be carefully considered. We need to strike a balance: pitching the right stories to the right media, at the right moment. Data and analytics are key to getting it right.

Using data and analytics to turbocharge media strategies
Leveraging data from our research partners, H+K’s Data + Analytics team have been evaluating coverage from key UK national and specialist titles to better understand the current media environment. In addition, we have been mapping out how conversations around Coronavirus are shifting over time, with a focus on core publications from our individual sectors.

Share of Coverage: All Media (22-29 March)

Graph mapping out how conversations around Coronavirus are shifting over time, with a focus on core publications from our individual sectors
Data Source: Signal AI

While we are only in the early stages of the project, our insights so far have been extremely valuable to PR teams across the business, providing timely indications on which publications and journalists they should prioritise for non-COVID-19 stories.

Here are some observations gleaned so far:

  • 67% of coverage in UK nationals has included references to COVID-19 in the last fortnight. To put that into perspective, this accounted for 31K articles in the last week alone.
  • Sunday editions, however, are featuring fewer Coronavirus articles than their weekday counterparts, giving consumers a breather.
  • Tech and specialist titles are continuing to discuss broader topics, such as product releases, with only 35% of coverage last week referencing the issue.

What can we learn from this? We should be focussing our attention on targeting relevant trade and specialist media. In the current climate, cutting through the noise in mainstream dailies is likely to present a much greater challenge.

Seeds of opportunity
With challenges come new opportunities. As the world pauses, people are also turning to the media more regularly to provide light relief, inspiration, and entertainment. With such a captive audience, now is the time to tell brilliant stories and build connections with people. Now is the time for brands to be creative and courageous.

Given the scale of the Coronavirus coverage and the speed at which it is moving, data is one of the most valuable resources available right now – bringing some certainty, in uncertain times. Whether this is used to inform media strategy, explore creative territories, or to better understand our audiences, it is critical that data-driven insights are at the root of our decision making.