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Why news matters more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic

Why news matters more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic
April 20, 2020 Beckie Chaddock

Regardless of how long we have been in the business of media relations, PR, marketing and communications, we still get a buzz from all the great online and offline media coverage we achieve for our clients. Reliable news sources and up to the minute information have become even more important as the situation with Coronavirus continues to evolve and unfold.

Diane Wood, PR Director at V Formation, provides an overview of recent research into current news consumption and takes a closer look at what content people want in the present climate.

Diane Wood PR Director at V Formation explains news consumption trends during Covid 19Reinforcing just how important journalists and the media are to us all, new research into the news consumption habits of British people proves just how much we are relying on journalism, now more than ever before.

Current statistics for media engagement

According to the April 2020 research, engagement across the board has risen, with more and more people are turning to the media for updates, in particular the younger generation, though this increase is consistent throughout the whole of the population.

Over half (46%) of British people say they are reading national news, 45% are reading local news and over a third (34%) are reading international news at least once a week. There is also an increase as time goes by – in just a week these increased quite substantially:

  • National news: 46% to 52%
  • Local news: 45% to 49%
  • International news: 34% to 38%

56% of people say they are reading publications more than usual – an increase from 48% the previous week.

It is the younger generation (16-24-year olds) who are consuming more national news at least once a week and more than they usually do – almost three quarters (73%) in fact – and 2 in 5 (40%) of people aged over 55.

What is driving the rising appetite for news?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top reason people are keeping a closer eye on what the papers have to say is to keep up to date with the ongoing coronavirus situation (77%).  21% admit it’s also because they have more spare time.

Why are some people reading the news less?

Some people are actually shying away from reading the news. The top three reasons most often cited are:

  • The news is so negative: 30%
  • The news makes them anxious: 32%
  • They find the news scary: 22%

What content do people want?

news consumptionAppetites are shifting, with a larger percentage of the population wanting light-hearted news stories, albeit the desire for COVID-19 related information is also steadily on the rise. While most news outlets are balancing positive stories with those that reminds us of the gravity of the situation, the top three types of content most often cited by respondents as what they would read more of are:

  • Heart-warming stories about human kindness (45%)
  • More information about the coronavirus (41%)
  • Stories backed up with data (36%)

Additional research has also revealed the type of content consumers wish to see from brands during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

Agile working

What is important for us as professional communicators is to remain agile and informed about what people want to read, which sources they rate and turn to for reliable information, and to deliver stories and content that are exactly what journalists – who are more time pressed than ever before – want and need for their readers.

To discuss how V Formation can raise your company’s profile and make sure your voice is being heard by the right people at the right time, please call us on 0115 787 0206 or contact us here.

The research was conducted by Censuswide. Click here to see the full report.