The Jobs Outlook for Mid-Sized Media and Communications Industry in D.C. before, during, and after COVID
Mid-sized media and communication companies—those with between 50 and 500 employees—have taken some hits and experienced some growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. D.C. has always been a media and communications hub, and that will probably never change. However, journalists, marketers, PR firms, and online content providers were not immune to the business fluctuations the coronavirus created. Looking at mid-size businesses in this sector before, during, and after the pandemic helps provide essential insights into what employers and employees have faced (and will continue to face) as the recovery process continues.
Before the pandemic
Mid-sized media and communications organizations were looking forward to a profitable upcoming year in 2019. According to Media Executive, Tom Wolzien “Advertising in 2019 was up 5.1 percent, about a point ahead of the economy. And for an off year that should have been a good sign for 2020 with politics and the Olympics.” However, no one could have predicted the dynamic disruption that was about to occur.
In terms of journalism, there was most certainly a downturn in offline news prior to COVID-19. Print-based newspapers and magazines were already struggling due to the plethora of online outlets which cater to specific wants and needs. However, journalists were at least able to cover a variety of topics. Once the pandemic hit, virtually all news, no matter what the source, became COVID-focused.
During the pandemic
Communications is all about connecting people. When social distancing became the norm, media and communications companies had to rethink that link. How were they going to keep the connection going when in-person meetings and social gatherings became taboo? Any organization that was not already relying on digital media and internet forums for their primary communications had to quickly get on board. While many companies had already replaced business trips with video streaming and live PR events with virtual ones, those who were still clinging to the “face-to-face is best” mantra could no longer support that choice. The same was true for journalists who prefer to track the story on the street and conduct their interviews in person. Old school ways had to be overhauled.
The biggest changes, however, came in the form of telework. Getting up in the morning, putting on a suit, and heading to the office was largely replaced by rolling out of bed, booting up the laptop, and scrolling emails in pajamas. The Pew Research Center reports that before the pandemic, around 20 percent of people who believed their jobs could be performed at home actually worked from home. During the pandemic, that figure rose to 71 percent. With many media and communications employees choosing to continue working from home even after the pandemic, the future of the industry may be permanently altered.
After the pandemic
What does the future hold for the mid-sized media and communications industry in D.C.? Although no one can say with certainty, it appears the coming months and years will be on an upward swing. With more employees working virtually, organizations can save a lot of money on office space and all of its accoutrements. This opens up their budgets to a host of novel ventures, and most of those new ventures will involve new forms of digital communications and internet broadcasting. Innovation is expected to be the hallmark of media and communications in the near future.
The post-pandemic outlook also includes the development of new positions, as employers continue to push the envelope. Jobs that did not exist before are going to emerge in this industry, which is good news for both employers and employees. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports public relations jobs, along with advertising and marketing jobs, are expected to grow at a faster than average rate in the next 10 years. Although journalist opportunities are expected to dip by 11 percent nationwide, the political hotspot of D.C. may circumvent that trend.
Overall, medium-sized firms in the media and communications industry are well on their way to a full recovery. Some of the paths may have changed direction, but they are all heading toward a bright future.