pandemic changed journalism

It isn’t a secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything — from the way we interact with our colleagues to the way we operate our businesses.

But one of the most important things for communicators to analyze right now is the way the pandemic has affected journalists, who are our most important relationships in the PR profession.

Five months into the pandemic, I sat down to talk to New York Times staff reporter Anahad O’Connor. We chatted about his ever-changing life with an 18-month-old son, the way his industry has responded to the pandemic and what has changed for better and for worse.

Here are five major lessons I took from our conversation, along with tips to implement them:

1. Journalists have lives, too.

This should be easy to understand, but it’s important to remember: The people on the other side of those emails are going through just as many complicated times in 2020 as you are.

“It’s been a whirlwind for me, as it has for a lot of people,” O’Connor said. “Life today is very different than it was a year ago, whether that’s work or everyday life. I’m based in San Francisco, and it’s a very different world. So we’re just adapting.”

Amid the hustle and bustle of being a communicator in the middle of a pandemic, it can be easy to gloss over building relationships with the journalists you’re working with. If you neglect that portion of the job, then you will make doing your job even harder.

A combination of understanding, relationship-building and sensitivity to the challenges of a journalist’s life can go a long way, especially in 2020. Remember that before you get angry about the length of time it takes to receive a response from a reporter.

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by Lisa Arledge Powell, Public Relations Society of America

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