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Who’s Leading the COVID 19 Coverage & Conversation?


COVID-19 is dominating headlines globally and for good reason. It is a pandemic affecting everyone on the planet and the more we educate ourselves, the easier it will be for us to get through it personally and professionally. But what are the best channels for doing that?

As communications professionals, we must be smarter than ever in how we frame stories, create content and pitch journalists. Data can help contextualize media coverage and inform certain angles that will be relevant to specific media outlets and journalists. In some cases, having this understanding will result in NOT pitching a story, which is equally important in this emotionally charged time.

Measuring the impact of media

We looked at two key aspects of the global COVID-19 crisis: which media outlets are leading the narrative and whichtopics are being covered most by business, tech, health and political media.

We found that:

  • Outlets like CNBC, Reuters and the New York Times have published thousands of articles about COVID19. Note that many of these articles are republished and distributed to and from other media sites.
  • Conversely, Harvard Business Review, Rolling Stone, TMZ and The Atlantic have published very little about the pandemic, but those have generated high much higher engagement from their readership.

At the same time, we found that the top journalists covering COVID-19 and driving the most engagement are Brittany Wong from the Huffington Post and Peter Wade from Rolling Stone. Reporters from CNN and New York Times are, predictably, publishing a large volume of COVID content, but reporters from MSN, USA Today, Bloomberg and the New Yorker are driving higher engagement from their readership, despite publishing less.

Audience & conversation analysis

We pulled a sample of 58,000 people globally who have been talking about COVID-19 and related terms since January 1, 2020, and identified four segments that we’re calling: Resistance, Tech | Founders, Bernie Supporters and Conservatives. We then analyzed their conversations and several common themes – Wuhan, Health, Economy, Testing, Italy and Symptoms -- reflective of what the media has been covering.

We also wanted to understand the topics that were important to the audience as a whole. . We found five consistent themes that were affecting the audience regardless of their segment, political affiliation or media affinity – all of which are also key themes in media coverage:

  1. Birth & Pregnancy: Discussion and fear of people finding out that they are pregnant or about to give birth during this crisis.
  2. Family & Friends: Concerns for family and friends who have been diagnosed with COVID 19 or who are vulnerable because of other pre-existing health conditions.
  3. Job Loss: Anger and fear of losing their job or being laid off due to the global economic shut down.
  4. Cancelling Plans: People expressing sadness or frustration about having to cancel vacation plans or business trips.
  5. Cancelling Weddings: Brides or close family members expressing sadness or frustration about having to change their plans for an upcoming wedding or ceremony.

What does this mean for us – and why is this data important?

Having a strong pulse on how society is being affected by the crisis can help brands understand, empathize and take strategic and informed steps to aid in ways that are both relevant and authentic to their purpose. This may come to define how consumers perceive specific brands in the aftermath and recovery from this unprecedented global event. At the very least, it presents an opportunity for companies to understand how they can be a part of the united global effort to persevere.