COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to dominate all media coverage and all our social media feeds and will likely do so for weeks to come. The nature of the coverage is, however, changing. Using our advanced topic modelling approaches, we demonstrated in our last analysis of media coverage three distinct phases as the virus moved from being an East Asian concern to a global pandemic with wide-reaching social, political and economic implications.
Looking at data from the last week’s coverage, while many more countries have gone into increased forms of lockdown, the overall themes being discussed have remained relatively stable. Our bird’s eye view shows articles still broadly falling into the following areas but the depth and nuance of coverage within these themes is increasing:
Political and policy dynamics
So, what’s changed?
Public health issues
The impact of the virus on hospitals and medical staff, and the shortages that they are facing, has grown as a substantial topic in the last week, with some highly personal social content penetrating traditional media coverage.
However, the media has also been keen to report on companies that are shifting their production capabilities to items in need (such as hand sanitizer, masks and ventilators) or donating items that they had in stock.
The economic impacts of increased prevalence and severity of ‘lockdown’ – in which only essential workplaces are remaining open – has become a major part of media coverage. Industries that weren’t previously affected, such as the automotive and film industry, are being discussed more as the full depth and range of the economic impact starts to hit home.
Although the cancellation of the Olympics was a big story this week, a lot of cancellations had already been announced. Increased restrictions on social movement – such as school closures and closures of other facilities such as parks and shopping malls – featured prominently in this week’s coverage.
As lockdown has set in, there’s also been a rise in ‘celebrity impact’ articles – including celebrities that have or are suspected to have contracted the virus, offering tips and tricks through entertainment or exercise videos, or those just looking to get attention.
Political and policy decisions
As the economic impacts look to stretch on into the coming months, political leaders are looking at ways to support individuals and businesses affected in order to stave off or mitigate the potential impacts of recession. Coverage of longer term financial impacts and how these packages will be paid for currently appears to be on the back burner.
While there is also currently critiques of political responses to the virus, we are also seeing a more supportive and less polemic form of journalism temporarily taking hold. It is not clear how long this will hold, and out analysis in the coming weeks will look to identify more partisan reporting.
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Find out our 10 top tips for virtual presenting below. With more of us now interacting virtually, it’s critical we can present, pitch, facilitate and deliver business-critical communications online.
1. Check and rehearse the technology – much more is dependent on the technology. Check all systems thoroughly before use – leave plenty of time for set up on the day.
2. Be methodical and deliberate – everyone is digesting information virtually so they cannot rely on in-person visual, body language and voice cues. Slowing down and being more precise than usual about instructions, process and timing is a pre-requisite for audience understanding.
3. Keep them attentive by varying the way you present frequently – in face-to-face presenting, best practice suggests varying the way you are presenting every five minutes or so. Virtually everyone’s attention span is even shorter. Consider changing the way you are presenting even more frequently and ask them to interact more often than you normally would. Remember people respond best to a variety of presentation modes including stories, videos, flipcharts and white-boarding and demonstrations.
4. Voice is disproportionately important – in virtual land, voice becomes your primary asset and the thing that commands the most attention. It is more important than ever to modulate your voice, slowing down and pausing for emphasis and clarity.
5. Do not overload them with information – face-to-face, most people can remember only 3-7 items of information in under 40 minutes. It’s even less virtually. Do not cram too much information into a presentation. Think about creating meaning and memories for them rather than swamping them with detail. Get them to do even more than you would face-to-face.
6. If you’re using breakout ‘rooms’ – make sure everyone is back before moving on – you need to frequently check that everyone is literally ‘with the programme.’ There is nothing that guarantees an attendee checking out more than them being left behind.
7. Consider having ‘location ambassadors’ to ensure local participation – having senior executives take responsibility in each location helps everything run more smoothly and greatly facilitates any breakouts or chat rooms you may want to use. Physical guidance in location is a crowd pleaser.
8. Ask people by name if you want them to participate – building some personal touches into virtual presenting should be a key aim. People will respond much more quickly and more actively if they are called by name.
9. Check-in frequently with your audience to ensure things are working for them – in virtual land, process takes precedence over content. People need to be clear on what you want to happen next, how much time you are allotting and when you want them to move on.
10. Use high speed WIFI – nothing defeats a session more than power drop-outs and buffering. Invest in high speed WIFI.
Madano supports clients design and deliver communications virtually to their stakeholders, whether it’s customers or staff, as well as offering advice and support in making clients’ own virtual pitches and presentations far more effective. For more information, contact Mark Dailey.
Madano together with partners Ecuity have designed and successfully launched this month the Hydrogen Taskforce at a set-piece event in Parliament. The Hydrogen Taskforce and its member companies including Arup, Baxi, BOC-Linde, BNP Paribas and Arval, BP, Cadent, DBD, ITM Power, Northern Gas Networks, Shell and Storengy, aims to work with government to secure the role of hydrogen in the future energy mix.
Why is this important?
Hydrogen has the potential to support the vital decarbonisation of heat, energy, transport and industry and help achieve Net Zero. The application of hydrogen on a grand scale has been a long time coming, but this has often been uncoordinated. The Hydrogen Taskforce represents a coalition of organisations in the sector engaging with a unified voice.
Aligning industry and Government
The Taskforce’s objective is to align a wide range of stakeholders including Government, industry and an informed public, with the aim of driving investment in hydrogen to promote its large-scale deployment. The Taskforce gives industry an opportunity to demonstrate to the UK Government that it is united and ready to engage with Government to unlock developments in the sector. The cooperation between the Hydrogen Taskforce and Government is a clear opportunity for the UK to follow in the footsteps of Japan, South Korea, Germany and China in cross-governmental collaboration. The aim of this is to form a hydrogen roadmap on which to base clear commitments in the next spending review for projects in hydrogen production, storage and distribution projects.
The launch of the Taskforce this month was a clear manifestation of that shared vision of the role for hydrogen in the transition to Net Zero, with Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP sharing his views on hydrogen in reducing carbon emissions. Jacob Young MP for Redcar also spoke, noting the opportunities and importance of hydrogen as an economic game changer in levelling up the regions. They were joined in Parliament by more than 90 Members of Parliament, Civil Servants and industry leaders.
A unique opportunity for the UK
The UK has clear commercial and experiential advantage in hydrogen compatible sectors including North Sea oil and gas, suitable areas for CCUS, and available capacity for large scale wind energy. We need to harness this advantage. The hydrogen clusters in the North East of the UK already offer an excellent opportunity to make the UK a world leader in the application of hydrogen technology. This can support not only the decarbonisation of the UK to achieve Net Zero by 2050, but also to export to a global hydrogen market, estimated by The Hydrogen Council to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050.
There is a great challenge around how we decarbonise heat. However, there are touchpoints with communities and individuals where hydrogen can make a real impact. Domestic boilers can receive a gas blended with hydrogen. Building public acceptability for hydrogen will be very important in a similar way to the feed in tariffs that helped educate communities around the potential role of solar. With trials underway, the Taskforce is engaged in working with Government to amend regulations to enable the blending of hydrogen to make this a reality and paving the way for mandating hydrogen-ready boilers by 2025.
The future of mobility – can hydrogen challenge electric vehicles?
Our hunger for travel in the UK is not diminishing, as is evidenced by the rapid adoption, acceptance and utilisation of electric vehicles. However, it is important that alternative fuels are fully explored, and indeed where hydrogen can be deployed into our transport network. From hydrogen fuel cell cars such as Toyota’s Mirai to hydrogen trains and boats and even hydrogen for aviation, the Taskforce seeks to support investment into developing hydrogen as a fuel source for the future of mobility. To reflect this, we feel that asking Government to support with establishing 100 hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) by 2025 will greatly support the roll-out of hydrogen transport and nudge investment decisions.
The Hydrogen Taskforce is committed to working with Government to secure tangible support to enable hydrogen solutions to scale in the UK, helping the government meet its net zero commitment and deliver on its promise to level up the regions.
Madano and economic analysis consultant Ecuity form the Secretariat for the Taskforce. If you would like further information or would like to consider joining the Taskforce, please contact me on [email protected] or a member of the Madano team on [email protected].
Strategic communications consultancy Madano has launched an online map monitoring and analysing media coverage of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) since its initial outbreak emerged late last year and how that is evolving as the crisis develops. The map, which tracks media coverage using Madano’s ‘topic mapping’ methodology to identify and visualise key themes.
The approach uses a machine learning model to read headlines and places articles within the map, each article is placed closest to those it is most like. Each dot on the map represents a media article about COVID-19 and the articles naturally form into key topic areas. The data covers media reporting from December 2019 up until March 2020 in the UK, US and Canada and is updated on a weekly basis.
The analysis shows three key phases of coverage identified below:
Phase 1: The virus is just emerging and concentrated on China and East Asia, initial conversations focus on a ‘mystery’ virus causing pneumonia in China and some speculation as to whether the virus is more like Flu or SARS in its severity.
Phase 2: The virus begins to spread outside of East Asia and there is a big focus on financial markets, discussions around consumer confidence, travel restrictions, personal safety of citizens and more emphasis on hygiene practices such as washing hands more frequently.
Phase 3: The virus becomes established Europe and North America, reporting on social distancing picks up momentum as well as self-isolation and possible financial repercussions of the outbreak on global economies.
This first analysis shows rapid changes in coverage over the previous weeks as the virus progresses towards Europe and North America. It illustrates the challenges for government and organisations in communicating proactively around an issue that is rapidly changing and impacts society in so many different ways.
Gareth Morrell, Head of Insights at Madano, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak is a crisis impacting all of our lives in ways we probably never imagined and we’re reliant of the right information at the right time to overcome the challenge we face. Therefore, understanding what’s being said in the media and the public domain is crucial as the outbreak situation unfolds. In the coming weeks we will be updating the analysis and looking in more detail at media and social media discussions around the crisis.”
Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has delivered the new Government’s first Budget, since the December 2019 election. Despite only being in post since February 2020 and having to tackle the emerging Coronavirus crisis, Sunak set out what a 5-year Conservative Government means for the technology, energy and environment sectors.
Take a look at our analysis of what the Budget means for the Energy & Environment and Technology sector in our mailer by clicking here (also pictured below):
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