The Shifting Media and Communications Landscape Post-Pandemic
The pandemic’s impact on global culture will undoubtedly be the focus of studies for years to come as we attempt to quantify the ways it has forever changed healthcare, education, economies, workplaces and communications.
In my professional field of marketing within the US, AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry, I too have observed significant changes brought forth by the pandemic. Not only have we grappled with marketplace volatility but also evolution in the tools we use to communicate about our projects, people, and practice. Now over two years since the pandemic was officially declared, there are clear, identifiable shifts, which have accelerated the transformation of the media and communications landscape.
Growth of Digital Content and Paywalls
The overall consensus is that print media circulation and readership have been on the decline for quite some time now. While some print outlets saw growth during the pandemic (for instance, an increase in local newspaper subscriptions as people sourced locally-focused daily updates on Covid-19), many magazines began to publish less frequently and with lower page counts. In contrast, it was digital media outlets that saw the most dramatic growth during Covid.
In the architecture and design realm, media outlets were already investing in digital tools; but that went into hyper drive during Covid as readers sought people looking for content focused on homes, renovations, and simply aspirational escapism. Some outlets expanded their Communications tools to include videos, podcasts, and social media with some outlets shifting to a digital-first content strategy for content. Other media outlets were looking to recoup losses in sales from print subscriptions and newsstand purchases by adding paywall subscriptions to their websites. To entice subscribers, to these digital subscriptions much of the paywall-protected content consisted of exclusive features, videos, and interviews.
Similar to the overall growth of social media, many media outlets experienced dramatic growth in followers and engagement similar to the overall growth of social media. They have made subsequent investments in talent to meet the daily demand for regular and fresh content across a multitude of platforms including formats, for example, Instagram Reels, TikTok, and audio social.
Authenticity and Transparency
Much dissimilar to the transparency that impacted all of our lives as we conducted business and school from our homes (and all the “realities” that came along with it), media outlets also responded to this major cultural shift away from “overproduction” and towards authenticity.
In my field, we experienced an increase in people looking to go “behind the scenes” of the design process. We responded with podcast conversations that revealed the collaborative design dialogue between paired clients, architects, general contractors, and interior designers. In some instances, we were able to partner with media outlets to also conduct some of these conversations and dialogues in live formats with audience Q&As. The engagement and positive feedback from these conversations exceeded all expectations.
More recently for our New York City office launch, we partnered with our timber fabricator (Spearhead) in British Columbia to share a photo and video footage of the centrepiece table design at their facility as it was assembled before installation in NYC. This allowed the opportunity for our followers and media outlets to not only see the final photography of a project but also have transparency into how we got there is an increasingly sought-after design process.
Adaptability and Fluidity
Having worked in various roles in marketing, public relations, and communications and since graduating from DCU, one thing I’ve observed over time and time again amongst my peers working in the field is that we tend to be individuals who thrive in ever-evolving environments that is ever-evolving, and marketing is certainly that!
Pre-pandemic, we honed skills of observation and analysis to stay ahead of trends and be responsive to the market. Due to the fluidity of the marketplace, the post-pandemic has pushed us into completely uncharted waters. We had to rely on mindsets becoming even more adaptable and solutions-focused.
As unsettling as the past two years have been professionally in the field of marketing, these shifts have also acted as a catalyst. Today for us to finesse these skills expeditiously to trust our instincts, develop nimble and responsive strategies and emerge with teams even more closely attuned and connected to the collective mission we support.
Author: Ciara Cronin is Director of Public Relations & Communications at Olson Kundig, an architecture and design firm with offices in Seattle and New York City. She graduated in 2000 from DCU with a B.A. in International Business and Languages.