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Make Your Coronavirus News Pitch Perfect

By May 6, 2020 July 27th, 2021 No Comments

PR pros should use email, find local news angles and make experts available for video interviews, according to Cision’s “2020 State of the Media Report,” released on April 21.

The PR software company’s 11th-annual report, which surveyed more than 3,200 journalists from 15 countries, includes a follow-up section on how PR professionals can better work with journalists to reflect the new realities of the coronavirus shutdown.

Fifty-one percent of journalists surveyed say accurate content is more important than revenue, exclusivity or being first to publish — especially now, in the age of COVID-19. With all coverage viewed through the lens of coronavirus, journalists say they’re looking for optimistic, human stories.

As always, PR professionals are advised to research news outlets and journalists before pitching story ideas. Smaller staffs and reduced resources continue to challenge reporters. In some cases, entire newsrooms have switched to covering coronavirus, and have put other stories on hold.

Mondays are best for pitching, the research finds. Emails to reporters should be concise and customized, with links that work and value that will not expire. Story ideas should be important for the public, not just for PR clients.

Swamped with work and pitches, reporters might take longer than usual to respond, according to the report. To stay in the media’s good graces, PR pros are advised not to follow up on their pitches more than once.

Other takeaways include:

  1. Distrust in the media is decreasing in the eyes of journalists. For the fourth year in a row, respondents reported a decrease in the public’s distrust of the media; 59 percent of respondents felt the public lost trust this year, which is down from 63 percent in 2019, 71 percent in 2018 and 91 percent in 2017.
  2. Social media algorithms are ranked as the most important new technology impacting journalists today, while the heady promise of AI continues to fade – 41 percent of journalists agreed that social media algorithms will change the way they work the most, up from 38 percent in 2019. Only 15 percent of respondents see AI/machine learning as the most important technology to affect the industry. This is down from 19 percent in 2019.

Make the Most of Your Video Meetings

In our new socially distanced world, video chat reigns supreme as the primary form of communication for work, groups, family and friends seeking to stay in touch.

Whether you Zoom, FaceTime, SkypeGoogle Hangouts, Meet or Duo, you’ve probably noticed that despite being able to see everyone’s face, it’s still not quite the same as a pre-coronavirus pandemic in-person conversation.

In a recent blog postGoogle UX researcher Zachary Yorke explored the virtual video quandary, and suggested ways to make video meetings feel more natural. Here’s his recommendations:

  1. Think twice before muting your mic. Even under the best circumstances when everyone has a strong internet connection, there’s still a very slight delay from the time someone talks to the time their voice reaches the others on the call. This only gets worse when someone has audio lags, or fumbles to hit the unmute button. Even a delay of five-tenths of a second is more than double what we’re used to in in-person conversations. As a solution, for smaller group chats, Yorke recommends staying unmuted to provide bits of verbal feedback (like “mmhmm” and “OK”) to show active listening. In larger meetings, you can try speaking more slowly to avoid unintended interruptions and give people time to interject if needed.
  2. Give some visual cues, too! In face-to-face conversations and meetings, we often pick up on social and visual cues: someone leaning forward who might want to add to the conversation, or a confused expression at a point you’ve made. These cues can be harder to see on video. Visual listening cues makes a difference. For example, when you need to engage, keep your eyes focused on your fellow video chat participants, instead of on your inbox or another browser tab, and show that you’re listening by nodding and smiling.
  3. Make some time for personal talk. Many in-person meetings might start with some informal small talk, with coworkers sharing small pieces of their lives and families. This is a good thing: Research shows that teams that sometimes share personal information perform better than teams that don’t. When leaders model this, it often boosts team performance even more. But the switch to video conferencing can sometimes make it feel like you have to get down to business faster. Carve out time at the start to catch up a little, informal video chatting with coworkers over coffee or lunch breaks to build connections and morale, etc.
  4. Chat about how you want to work. When there’s a workplace problem, remote teams are more likely to blame individuals instead of analyzing the situation, hurting cohesion and performance, one study found. To keep everyone on the same page, even when working styles are different, you should have open conversations with your newly remote teammates about how everyone prefers to work, and how you can complement each other.

Latest Hotel Perks: Lysol With Your Spa Treatment, Gourmet Coffee, Spring Water

Hotels used to pamper guests with spa treatments, gourmet coffee and spring water. Now, in our coronavirus world, they’re rolling out the disinfectant.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. has partnered with the Mayo Clinic and Reckitt Benckiser Group, which makes Lysol and other cleaning products, to introduce a new set of cleaning protocols across the company’s 6,100 hotels.

The program, which is still being finalized, will emphasize disinfection of so-called high-touch areas in rooms, including light switches, television remotes, door handles and thermostats, according to a statement. Hilton is also touting electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet lights to sanitize surfaces.

Cleaning standards are emerging as a competitive front for an industry that has been battered by the coronavirus. In the U.S., roughly four out of five hotel rooms are empty, and 70 percent of lodging workers have been laid off or furloughed, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

With a full recovery still a long way off, lodging companies are betting that sanitary standards will be key to convincing vacationers and business travelers that their properties are safe.

Airbnb Inc. has been working with former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to develop an “enhanced cleaning initiative” for home-sharing hosts, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Marriott International Inc. has formed a “global cleanliness council” of public health and hospitality experts and promised to use hospital-grade disinfectants to sterilize its properties. The company also said it would begin using electrostatic sprayers.

Sanshake Mic: Is it Goodbye Handshake?

It has always been a symbol of peace, a professional greeting, a gesture of hospitality.

It’s an ageless companion passed through generations – and is part of nearly every social, religious, professional, business and sporting exchange.

Then coronavirus happened. It has forced a socially deprived, quarantined-induced, masked faced, six-foot-distanced insanity.

Will it no longer be socially acceptable in our “new” normal? What will replace it? Elbow bump? Fist pump? High five emoji? Japanese bow. Spock’s Star Trek Vulcan salute?

The Spin Cycle hopes not. We are social. We have always done it! But Coronavirus has made us rethink touching gestures due to bacterial considerations in our COVID-19 existence. I know we must be vigilant in our “new” normal. But somewhere, once we are past all of this, and have conquered coronavirus once and for all, I am hopeful we can restore such human graces!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

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