As well as dominating the global news agenda since the beginning of the year, coronavirus and its effects on our industry has been a key focus for business events, travel and hospitality media.

The ‘typical day’ for media houses was soon turned on its head; businesses started to cancel advertising, some magazines stopped their print cycle and instead focused on uploading content online, especially given the speed at which news was in-coming, and publishers were using their platforms to promote campaigns to support the industry.

Content plans were rapidly changed and features pulled last minute to incorporate relevant mainstream news as well as reporting on reports, research and news from industry organisations and businesses.

Our Junior Account Manager, Hollie Luxford, has spoken with some key media contacts to see how coronavirus has impacted their day-to-day job role and their industry.

How has the news changed?
As event and hospitality businesses across the UK began to shut their doors, the usual, steady flow of company news and updates dried up almost overnight. Clear, fact-led reporting on the rapidly evolving situation was in demand at a time where so much was uncertain and confusing.

Martin Fullard, Editorial Director at Mash Media said: “The industry fell off a cliff very quickly, and so too did the familiar names popping up in my inbox. So-called regular industry news dried up overnight, but we weren’t short of content as the escalating pandemic and its dire consequences has kept us busy. We found early on that people were coming to us not for venue tips, but for advice on how to survive as a business, and to translate often complex government legislation.”

In Canada, editor of Ignite Magazine, Laura Bickle noted inbound news focusing heavily on health and safety; “The tone is very much on health and safety first; the challenge is ensuring that health and safety claims are properly vetted and sourced.

“It just requires some self-education and using reliable sources for confirmation. There has also been a shift from reporting on the current situation to focusing on giving readers information on how to return to business as restrictions lift and what the new reality will look like.”

A new approach
Here in the UK, the government spent 10 weeks providing daily televised updates to the nation on COVID-19 statistics, new initiatives and setting out its plans for the country’s recovery.

The team at davies tanner religiously tuned into these updates and worked rapidly to collate relevant information and create briefing documents, which were shared with our clients, industry colleagues and of course the media.

Just weeks after lockdown began, we teamed up with the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) to create our industry sentiment survey. The survey, which received more than 550 responses from event professionals across the UK, was created to assist venues, hotels, destinations and other key sector suppliers in planning recovery activity post the COVID-19 pandemic. We also collated this data to provide our clients and journalist contacts with regular briefing documents, detailing relevant updates from government and industry leaders.

As the weeks in lockdown went by, we regularly joined Zoom calls with editorial teams from across the globe to share ideas and updates from our clients. Over the past few months, from these regular calls, we have achieved some fantastic coverage and thought leadership opportunities for our clients and strengthened our relationships with media.

Read all about it
Journalists at MICE and hospitality publications, which usually have a slower news pace compared with national newspapers and their online counterparts, soon found themselves inundated with opinion pieces from industry leaders, guidance and advice for the reopening of venues. However, it wasn’t just industry news on the agenda for trade journalists, there became a growing need for them to report on wider national news.

When asked what the most impactful news stories over the past few months for Ignite Magazine had been, Laura said: “There have been so many and many of them overlap. The pandemic, obviously, and all its repercussions: geopolitical, economic, psychological, education… The George Floyd killing, and The Black Lives Matter movement has moved the conversation to another level in the public consciousness and requires thoughtful, well-researched reporting.”

In Europe, Cecile Koch, Editor of Boardroom Magazine said that she had seen more content focused from an association’s perspective: “We’ve seen a combination of thought leadership pieces, especially focused on congress, hybrid events and how to diversify revenue stream for associations.”

And in the UK, Martin commented: “Anything related to the profile of the events industry as far as government is concerned has been a huge driver. We have more than doubled our online readership, with 60,000 unique users stopping by in June alone. Boris Johnson’s timetable for events announcement was a big hitter.”

A new normal
As the industry continues its recovery and prepares for the proposed ‘go date’ of 1 October 2020, journalists said they have noticed an increase in the number of encouraging news stories coming into their inbox.

Editor of Boutique Hotelier, Zoe Monk, said she has already seen an increase in news releases and statements since hotels began to reopen their doors after a difficult few months: “Slowly but surely stories began to emerge of how hotels were helping their communities and supporting local charity work. The news has been mixed throughout and that hasn’t changed – some hotels are reporting rises in bookings since the reopening announcement and others are still waiting for the spike.”

After months of deciphering government guidance and sharing advice from key industry associations with his readers, Martin said: “The industry is far more united. Before, very few event professionals knew what the BVEP, MIA and HBAA were: they do now. I’d also like to think our exhaustive coverage has given the industry reassurance that there people fighting for them. It is still a tough time and that can’t be downplayed, but I’d like to think the industry’s identity has been galvanised.”

Ahead of 1 October, we hope to read more good news stories of businesses rebuilding and venues reopening their doors and want to see the entire industry thrive once again.