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To help Syneos Health public relations agencies and clients navigate the media relations landscape during the pandemic, we conducted a survey in which we asked journalists from top-tier and trade media outlets, ranging from The Wall Street Journal to the Associated Press and Endpoints News, to share insights on their coverage of health, medical and pharma/biotech industry topics during the time of the biggest global pandemic in recent history. 

We continue to engage with media and the financial and healthcare communities, and will provide an update on the media environment as the scenario unfolds. Here is our take on engaging the media based on our findings:

Media are covering COVID-19 news at volume—yet are increasingly selective

Survey respondents described the need to cover COVID-19 as “overwhelming” (Lisa Henderson, editor in chief, Pharmaceutical Executive), adding that they feel “swamped” (Marilynn Marchionne, chief medical writer, Associated Press) by the “all-encompassing” need to keep up with coronavirus-related developments (Natalie Grover, reporter, Endpoints News). Editors from The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic recently said they view COVID-19 coverage as a “marathon.”

At the same time, journalists are becoming selective about COVID-19 coverage. To quote Natalie Grover, “We’re not going to cover every COVID-19 announcement—the first few announcements were obviously important. Now there must be close to 100 odd companies looking at doing something to help with the crisis.”

Insight

Companies should be aware that not every story, even if linked to COVID-19, will be deemed relevant. Given the glut of rumors, conspiracy theories and false promises, journalists are wary of COVID-19 pitches. One way to stand apart is to provide credible resources and third-party validators for your COVID-19 approach. Natalie Grover cited the importance of credible resources such as “independent academics (virologists, epidemiologists, etc.), policy experts and doctors to make sense of advancements being announced.

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