5 breaking news tactics for COVID-19 coverage

By Jesse Moeinifar

Viafoura

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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The quick spread of the coronavirus is triggering panic all around the world. But by battling related misinformation and keeping the public informed, digital media is currently the one thing that can help ease this widespread fear.

Although most news media companies are covering the COVID-19 outbreak in some way or form, not all companies are positioning themselves as trustworthy sources for consumers.

In fact, the World Health Organization recently labeled the coronavirus as an “infodemic,” which it defines as “an overabundance of information — some accurate and some not — that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”

To help you become a trusted resource during this crisis, we’ve laid out some of the most effective ways to relay breaking news on the virus to the public.

Concern over the coronavirus presents news organisations with unique ways to reach their audience.
Concern over the coronavirus presents news organisations with unique ways to reach their audience.

1. Try live blogging

 Through live blogs, media companies can offer consumers a single place to gather accurate information on COVID-19.

Take the National Post, for example, which ran a live blog when the coronavirus first began taking root in North America. Minute-to-minute updates related to the virus were posted on one page so readers could access the latest details effortlessly.

Implementing live blogs for your breaking news is a powerful way to build trust with your audience, and stop them from going elsewhere for information. This can help prevent consumers from believing misinformation on social media or through news aggregators.

2. Utilise push notifications

With government policies appearing more fragile now than ever before, people want to know what’s happening around the world as new information comes out. 

Push notifications allow media companies to ease this hunger for instant updates. Plus, they can eliminate your dependency on third-party platforms to deliver your content to readers.

And, with push notifications generating click-through rates of up to nearly 28%, consumers can rest easy knowing they’re getting the latest and most reliable updates as they’re available.

3. Expand news coverage on streaming platforms

The pandemic is changing the world as we know it, including the way people want to consume news. 

According to Christy Tanner, executive vice president and general manager of digital news at CBS: “What we have seen people want is the most up-to- date information about whether the virus is impacting their community and what they can do to protect themselves and prevent transmission.” 

To meet this demand for more information, news organisations like CBS and ABC have been using their video-streaming platforms to offer additional in-depth coverage, both live and on demand.

“Not only is there a regular outpouring of information, but people have struggled to ascertain what information is accurate,” writes Senior Reporter Tim Peterson at Digiday. “And that is why news media companies’ streaming services have become vital outlets.”

4. Host ask me anythings

With uncertainty spreading like wildfire across the globe, hosting Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) can be an effective way to deliver trustworthy information to consumers. 

Consider inviting health professionals and political representatives to address audience concerns in real time on your owned and operated properties. This can engage consumers, provide accurate answers to their concerns, and solidify your reputation as a reliable news media company. 

Even ABC News recently hosted a live stream where audience members could ask their questions to the company’s health correspondent.

Involve your audience

One of the easiest ways to prioritise the needs and interests of your audience is by involving them directly in the content you produce. 

At ProPublica, a non-profit news company that relies on crowdsourced information to fuel its journalism, “the investigative newsroom has been using … online callouts and surveys to solicit tips, find sources, and identify affected communities since it launched in 2008.”

It’s worth following suit by creating content based on health tips and personal stories submitted by the public. As you engage consumers through questionnaires and idea callouts — which can be used to produce content that other audience members may find relatable and interesting — you can build up their loyalty to your brand. 

During this crisis, look beyond your normal breaking news strategies to connect with audience members and provide them with relief. What could be more satisfying to your business than that?

About Jesse Moeinifar

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