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Cars and Corona(Virus): Pitching Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Part II)

As the COVID-19 restrictions continue, normalcy remains months (or more) away. Mainstream media continues to cover the pandemic and its effects on world health and economy, but verticals like automotive and tech are mostly back to their typical content streams. With a core competency in automotive communications, Stratacomm remains up to speed with this media group’s storytelling needs.

We previously interviewed Perry Stern for his take on covering automotive during COVID-19 and are continuing our outreach with freelance automotive journalist, Andrew Ganz. Andrew contributes regularly to Autotrader, Motor Authority, Motor1 and more.

Steve Diehlman: Have you found yourself showing more interest and writing about topics or companies that you would have passed on before?

Andrew Ganz: To a certain degree, yes. I rarely wrote about car maintenance and improvements, and now that has been a popular request from editors. I’m sure I’m not alone in using some of this unexpected downtime to get caught up on car projects, and articles helping drivers take care of their vehicles seem to be performing well right now. 

SD: Are video or photo assets of more interest to you right now at a time where you can’t capture your own assets?

AG: Absolutely. I’ve limited my driving to essential activities only—I don’t agree that testing cars is essential at the moment. Additionally, I’ve had to use assets for shots I might normally have snapped on my own—dealerships, service facilities, and even certain products. 

SD: Would you say you have more time/interest in speaking with an SME for better context when writing a story now?

AG: I have taken advantage of the downtime to get caught up on a few stories, though work as a freelancer when it comes to new car topics is tough at the moment.  

SD: What’s the worst/most irrelevant pitch you’ve received since COVID-19 began?

AG: I haven’t received anything cringe-inducing lately, though I did early on. There were a few that clearly made light of what is obviously a serious situation. I think most marketers have backed off of poorly conceived pitches.  

SD: How much has your typical breadth of coverage changed?

AG: I’ve almost backed off of new-car coverage entirely, in part because there are so many other writers aggressively seeking work and I’ve been fortunate to carve out a niche for myself in vintage and collectible cars. Like many writers, I’ve seen my regular “side” gigs nearly evaporate. I’ve heard stories of writers being asked to contribute for free so that they may continue having a byline, but nobody has asked me to do that. 

SD: Do you prefer to cover the hard news, or more “escapist” type content right now?

AG: There’s so little hard news to report at the moment. I’ve shifted largely toward collector car content as well as maintenance. 

SD: What are your personal reading habits like lately? More breaking news or enthusiast-type articles?

AG: For one, I try not to catch mainstream news after about noon. This is a huge shift for me as just a month ago I was a voracious news consumer. When it comes to car content, I haven’t changed my reading habits much. I’m favoring long-form articles more, which may be a byproduct of having a little more downtime on my hands. At the same time, I’m also trying to be better about cutting my day off before dinner to reduce my screen time. With so little to do outside the house aside from cycling and dog walks, I’m finding myself nearly glued to my desk chair from about 7 am until 5 pm, and that’s far from healthy!