India’s dynamic news media industry — among the few thriving in the world — with its crores of readers and viewers has been hit hard by the unprecedented economic standstill brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Dwindling advertisements and disruption in circulation of newspapers and magazines have forced media houses to resort to pay cuts and layoffs, reduce number of pages, and shut down some of their print editions and go fully digital.
According to thevarious reports, the COVID-19 pandemic is also changing the way we consume media and entertainment (M&E). With people confined to their homes, our social lives have moved online and entertainment consumption has risen notably on television and over-the-top (OTT) channels. The media landscape has drastically changed since the Covid-19 outbreak. In these tough times, journalists are also hard pressed to perform their duties under challenging circumstances and may have limited time to discuss stories in detail with Public Relations and Corporate Communications professionals. Some of the inputs received from journalists across newswires and newspapers have indicated tighter deadlines for filing their stories.
The newspaper industry is the worst hit as it is reeling under the impact of circulation and advertising – both dropping severely during the lockdown. The only silver lining for the media industry has been the viewership figures for news TV — even so, not entirely. For although viewership has seen an exponential rise, according to a BARC-Nielsen report, it has not resulted in a rise in advertisements.
KPMG prepared a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various segments of the M&E sector in India, while identifying emerging business imperatives in the post crisis era. According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we consume media and entertainment (M&E). With people confined to their homes, our social lives have moved online and entertainment consumption has risen notably on television and over-the-top (OTT) channels. On the other hand, movie theatres, theme parks, museums, and other external consumption models are suffering.
The pandemic has triggered layoffs in certain M&E segments such as print and television media as advertisers scale back spending. As monetisation, particularly ad-spend, comes under pressure, cash management and profit protection with greater technology integration are likely to gain strategic significance for M&E companies.
Rating firm ICRA has a negative credit outlook for the film production and exhibition, print media and TV broadcasting segments of the Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry. Besides the direct impact by way of lost sales due to the shutdown of cinemas given the adverse impact on the overall economy, sharp reduction in advertisement spends has been observed in April and May, and this downturn is expected to continue over for a short while. This will dampen revenues and profit margins of the different segments of the Indian M&E industry in FY2021.
For the print media segment, circulation revenues were adversely impacted by 40% on YoY basis in April 2020, amid distribution challenges due to the ongoing lockdown restrictions. Furthermore, advertisement revenues, which were already under pressure during FY2020 amid subdued economic conditions, declined by 60-70% YoY in April 2020. Advertisement revenues have also been adversely impacted for the TV broadcasting segment in April 2020. While news and movies genre are on the lower end of the spectrum, with an average decline of 25-30% in advertisement revenues (vis-a-vis average monthly revenues), general entertainment channels (GECs) and sports channels have witnessed a sharp 55-60% reduction in advertisement revenues in April 2020. This is in turn explained by the absence of fresh content (given the shutdown and travelling restrictions) and deferment of high viewership driving sports events
At a time when advertising revenues for media houses have taken a beating because of the Covid-19 pandemic, most media houses – print, electronic, and online – have announced drastic measures to optimize cost such reduction of staff strength and closure of some editions /publications. Almost all the departments in the media industry have experienced staff- and operations-related changes (Source: News Laundry https://bit.ly/3hFHLNe)
NATIONAL MEDIA UPDATE DURING COVID-19
Business & English media has begun covering news beyond COVID-19 – Post Covid recovery, corporate announcement, new launches, etc.Regional media has started covering key business announcementsMumbai editions of Loksatta, Punya Nagari, Navshakti and Navbharat Times restarted the business news sections. Door-to-door newspaper delivery is still an issue in Maharashtra, but the print copies are available on stands. After the e-Conclave Corona series that featured epidemiologists, virologists, doctors, economists, industrialists & thought leaders, India Today Group has started the e- Conclave Inspiration series with sporting legends and film personalities
Lifestyle Media and Influencer insights
With increased consumption of digital content, magazines are strengthening their websites and social media platforms (primarily IG) more than ever before. The titles are running digital campaigns and engagements on social media platforms. Most publications will do stories on sustainability and responsible lifestyle.
Branded/sponsored content has begun to make a comeback and FOC content is being ruled out by many as businesses are opening up.Instagram Live and Zoom sessions are being increasingly considered.Many influencers are also helping small brands, start-ups, new designers as part of the ‘Made in India’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative.Influencers & media have started accepting seeding/products at home with a focus on eco-friendly packaging with necessary measures.
American websites , , and have together furloughed and fired more than 400 employees in the last 30 days. Ninety employees at the London-based were handed pink slips last week. , the group that publishes magazines like Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, laid off about 100 staffers and furloughed another 100. Dozens of newspapers in the US have also pay cuts and layoffs.
ADVISORY FOR MEDIA ENGAGEMENT
- Time is important. Like most professionals, journalists are working with limited resources and we need to respect their time now more. Brief, crisp and to the point is the norm and this should be adhered to or else you may miss the plot.
- Connect with a journalist only if you have a relevant and critical information to share. Respect the journalists time, and the lead time. Inform and update in case of delays and avoid “buying” time if you not sure.
- When pitching a story, Covid-19 pandemic is the most relevant topic, but if there is no direct association with the crisis, do not try to make one – maintain social distancing – even in the stories. Share knowledge but in a positive way and not be seen trying to take advantage of this unfortunate situation. Please don’t force fit your story. Be sensitive towards the reality of the situation and also about the client’s reputation
PRCAI advises the following 10 principles for all PR professionals to follow:
- To work ethically and in accordance with applicable laws;
- To observe the highest professional standards in the practice of public relations and communications;
- To respect the truth, dealing honestly and transparently with employees, colleagues, clients, the media, government and the public;
- To protect the privacy rights of clients, organizations, and individuals by safeguarding confidential information;
- To be mindful of their duty to uphold the reputation of the industry;
- To be forthcoming about sponsors of causes and interests and never engage in misleading practices such as “astroturfing”;
- To be aware of the power of social media, and use it responsibly;
- To never engage in the creation of or knowingly circulate fake news;
- To adhere to their Association’s Code of Conduct, be mindful of the Codes of Conduct of other countries, and show professional respect at all times;
- To take care that their professional duties are conducted without causing offence on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, origin, religion, disability or any other form of discrimination