Coronavirus coverage impacts the university sector

One of the main challenges facing PR teams at the moment is whether the coronavirus pandemic should be addressed in key messages.  

On the one hand the pandemic is affecting pretty much everyone and should always be covered, but on the other there is a danger of pandemic-fatigue, in which case avoiding it in messaging would make a refreshing change.

One way to consider this is to look at how strongly different types of media are addressing the covid crisis and use this as a guide. However, trawling through media to do this would take a lot of time and effort.

PR and communication big data specialist, Metricomm, provides some answers in the following charts, which reveal the proportion of audience reached by online media coverage about UK universities that is devoted to the pandemic.

What the trends shown in the charts reveal is that audience reach from media coverage about the pandemic in business, finance and trade media is not only lower than for other types of media but also that it is going down. At the same time the trends for national and regional media are both higher overall and moving in an upward direction.

  • The below charts reveal the massive impact coronavirus is having on media coverage, in this case for the UK university sector although it’s a similar picture across the board.
  • The yellow line shows the percentage of all the audience reached by online media coverage about UK universities that is devoted to the pandemic.
  • In April and May this was almost 90% before falling to around 44% in June.  For the next few months this plateaued at around 40% to 45% but, as with the virus itself, it’s starting to rise again and is likely to be 50% or more for the foreseeable future.
  • Of course this provides opportunities for some, such as Oxford, which is heavily involved with the vaccine but for the vast majority it just means there isn’t enough editorial available for them to get their individual messages across; and it’s pretty much the same for brands and organisations across all sectors

Impact of Coronavirus on university sector media coverage~Oct 2020

These types of insight are very useful for decision-making. They provide firm evidence that messaging for business, finance and trade media could be focused away from the pandemic while messaging for regional and trade media should most probably address it, with consumer media somewhere in the middle.

Of course this is for UK universities and the detail for other sectors will differ, although the overall picture is pretty much the same with the pandemic taking up huge amounts of editorial coverage across the board.