News and PR Insights from 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian

CBS News Becomes Part of the News Cycle

Round the clock news coverage of the COVID-19 virus became to ramp up as the first cases were diagnosed in the United States. Not long after, one of the news networks became part of the story. CBS News shut down its NYC headquarters for “cleaning and disinfecting” this past week after two employees at that office tested positive for coronavirus. For two days, most employees worked from home and the network tried to keep up business as usual.

Eagle-eyed fans could tell CBS This Morning was broadcast from Washington, though most viewers barely noticed a blip. The network managed to continue operations without missing a beat, much to the relief of management, staff, and the loyal fans who depend on the network for their news coverage.

And CBS was not the only news agency to announce precautions being taken relative to COVID-19. The Associated Press announced that employees would be allowed to work from home if their job permitted doing so and their managers approved. Because the agency is global, this policy change was announced as an incrementally implemented change, so operations were not disrupted and leadership teams could make sure everything kept working on schedule.

According to a statement, the AP said the first employees granted this opportunity would be staffers in offices where “employees have had direct or indirect exposure” to a person who tested positive, or if their local government was requiring them to telecommute. The statement also said no employee of the Associated Press has yet tested positive for the virus.

Soon after, other news agencies followed this policy, allowing employees to work from home. This included CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Employees who work in television production were expected to come to work as usual.

While no news agency likes to be included in the headlines of a news cycle, unless it’s a positive story, this one may provide a framework for some businesses struggling to find ways to deal with this pandemic without hurting business or their workforce. Given the 24-7 news cycle, if these multimedia production companies can make it work, other companies may find some ideas there worth emulating.

The key metric, though, for these media brands is to keep publishing, keep broadcasting, to keep informing the public of the news that’s important to their lives. Given the spotlight these businesses have in reporting the news, they have an opportunity to lead by example and show what it means to have a competent, proactive, and dedicated group of professionals respond to a difficult, uncertain situation. 

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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