Thought Leadership

Viral News, One Year On

3 Monkeys Zeno introduce a new report, Viral News, exploring the pressure that journalists have been under over the past year and why the smart way forward is for brands to work with them.


As the endurance test of 2020 was drawing to a close, a pattern was beginning to emerge in the media. The unwritten rules of engagement between brands and the media had fluctuated at dizzying speed during the pandemic. But at last, we had reached the point of ‘peak change’. Or so it appeared.

Then January exploded the news agenda only to fizzle out, sending previously buoyant ratings nosediving. It seemed Heraclitus had it right when he said that “change is the only constant”.

Zeno, another ancient Greek philosopher with whom our agency shares a name, disagreed. And so do we. In fact, for all its vacillations, there are several lessons we can learn about the state of the media today.

The news has always been red dyed throughout our business. Fifteen years ago, we saw it transformed by the near-simultaneous emergence of social media, smart phones and the global financial crisis. The pandemic served to supercharge that metamorphosis.

Now, as the vaccine rolls out and Freedom Day draws tantalisingly closer, we have taken a step back to analyse the field of play. To assess the new rules of engagement in a world where broadcast newsrooms have been hollowed out and newspaper pagination is at record lows.

In the world’s current febrile state journalists are fewer, more stretched and, here’s the rub, more needed than ever. Meanwhile brands are struggling to make their voices heard amid the cacophony of pandemic-era bad news.

This is the setting for our report, Viral News, based on a combination of industry insights, data analysis, conversations with journalists and a year’s learnings. Its conclusion? That journalists’ already difficult jobs have become harder than ever, and the smart way forward is to work with them for a mutually beneficial outcome.

Jo Patterson, Managing Director, 3 Monkeys Zeno

Richard Price, Editorial Director, 3 Monkeys Zeno

Visit 3 Monkeys Zeno’s profile to read and download the full report