2020 has been quite the year for news: COVID-19, mass unemployment, social justice protests in the streets, a wildly fluctuating stock market – and then we have the upcoming elections. All this has forced an increasingly stretched media to become even more selective about what it covers.
In my last blog post, I spoke with a number of reporters working in online and print about what it has been like to cover COVID-19 and what they expect in the coming months. For this post, I sat down with CNBC Power Lunch producer, Gino Siniscalchi, and Cheddar producer, Francesca Conti to get the broadcast media perspective.
When it came to COVID, both continue to expect it will be a driving force in their coverage for the foreseeable future, but they also still saw room for other stories. Conti said, “I primarily work across our branded content series so any needs specific to those shows I am always looking out for. I also champion successful start-ups and highlight their fundraising efforts and VC kingpins.” While Siniscalchi and Power Lunch are more market-driven, he, too, is open to other stories, noting “there are lots of stock and culture related stories catching attention…TikTok being the latest example.”
One big takeaway for any PR folks still trying to place stories or executives, remember this above all: broadcast depends on a visual, compelling and relatable story. You need to understand who the target audience is – and what they care about. Then, make sure your spokesperson has the matching expertise or background to speak with the outlet. As Conti cautioned, unless the individual is particularly niche and paired perfectly with an outlet, PR specialists need to devise creative or strategic hooks for their respective clients and stories. Conti receives hundreds of pitches, “so any way the information can be presented clearer, the better.”
Here are some additional observations they shared:
How much of your coverage has been dedicated to COVID vs the election and the market? Do you expect that to change in the coming weeks/months?
- Conti: COVID initially dominated the headlines (rightfully so). It still continues to be a major theme in terms of our coverage however, the election and markets are certainly a focal point as the S&P and DOW enter positive territory for the year. Cheddar has a weekly show dedicated to politics and regularly features political news of day items throughout daily programming.
- Siniscalchi: Obviously this will be a significant part of our coverage, but we are always focused most on bringing the audience any breaking news. Especially anything actionable or tradable.
What has been the biggest surprise to you as a result of the pandemic?
- Conti: The duration and magnitude of uncertainty / misinformation.
- Siniscalchi: How much we had to adapt from a production standpoint. No longer having access to studios, etc. We had to quickly switch over to booking guests on Zoom and Skype after never doing that.
What do you anticipate will change in the broadcast industry as a result of the pandemic?
- Conti: I predict there will be further availability to work from home and like many organizations, work as a hybrid model.
- Siniscalchi: Just how and where we book guests.