What we’re watching this week: 5/3/21

As we inch (or race) closer to the second half of the year, companies are plotting the content strategies and calendars that will take them into 2022. Things are changing quickly, and flexibility is still one of the keys to success. While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, there’s a sense of hopefulness in the air; at the same time, a devastating second wave in India is putting pressure on that optimism. We see a handful of other trends influencing strategy—from how 2021 Oscar winners are shaping the conversation on diversity in entertainment to where people actually get news and perspectives.

India’s COVID-19 explosion

India is experiencing an overwhelming rise in COVID cases and deaths, straining hospitals and crematoriums across the nation. After posting promising numbers post-lockdown months ago, the populous, densely packed country is facing a mounting challenge, and eyes around the globe are watching to see how this crisis will unfold.

This BBC article lays out the scope of the problem and what other countries are doing to help, including revving up the oxygen supply chain.

• The crisis in India isn’t just about COVID-19. This Wall Street Journal article discusses the humanitarian angle, the geopolitical conversation, and the strategic nature of foreign aid and action.

• Airports have begun filling up, but India’s new wave of the coronavirus could give travelers second thoughts. In fact, experts have been calling for travel restrictions for India.

Combating #OscarsSoWhite

The OscarsSoWhite hashtag emerged in 2015 and then picked up steam in 2016 after all of the Academy Awards nominees were white for the second year in a row. A handful of years later, things are finally starting to look different, with big wins for movies such as Moonlight in 2017 and, as of last week, directors and actors of color, including Chloé Zhao and Daniel Kaluuya. Even if you don’t care about the Oscars at all, this matters. It’s about who gets recognition for their contributions, what it allows them to do and create, and how entertainment should reflect the real world. As companies create more diversity, equity, and inclusion content, it’s worth looking at the media and entertainment space. Some already have:

McKinsey’s article on Black representation in film and TV provides data and research on the scale of the problem and what needs to happen to fix it.

The Hollywood Diversity Report series from the University of California at Los Angeles also provides a fact base for the problem and tracks progress over time—including how diverse representation affects the bottom line in entertainment.

• There’s still some back-and-forth on how hard the Academy should be patting themselves on the back, but the 2021 ceremony does mark a change, says The Economist.

Substack and your inbox

Email newsletters abound—on any given day, your inbox is likely full of them. So why is everybody freaking out about Substack? A handful of reasons. There’s the conversation on how a tech platform is challenging traditional media and publishing outlets; whether serving up content to a niche paid subscriber audience diminishes debate and engagement; and generally how content consumption is changing and what to do about it. As a content-marketing company, we’re watching this closely and determining what strategic moves we need to make.

• First, a primer—what is Substack? The New Republic breaks it down.

This take in Slate lays out how news outlets are already changing their strategies in response to Substack’s rise and what else we might see happen.

• The Financial Times has also weighed in on what readers are looking for and whether Substack is headed for a boom or bust.

Alia Samhat

Alia is a partner at Leff. Her expertise is in creative strategy and content development. She spends her time working with writers, marketers, designers, video producers, analysts, and subject matter experts to produce meaningful work.

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