Last Call for 2021 Pitches

Many outlets are beginning to plan their 2021 wrap-up stories while thinking ahead to 2022 coverage. 

The FGH Health Media Insights team took a look back at 2020 end-of-year trade coverage and found a trend that is likely true across sectors—roundups on both predictions for the coming year and the biggest stories from the past year. 

Many of these stories include industry perspectives, so consider pitching spokespeople now who can speak to 2021 learnings and trends they anticipate in 2022 and beyond.

While most of this coverage runs between mid-December and mid-January, some stories are starting now and can run through the end of January. 

We recommend getting in touch with reporters now to see what they have planned and how your organization can be part of the conversation. 

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As Pandemic Wanes, Access to Mental Health Care Does Too

The number of people seeking mental health treatment has spiked during the pandemic, but challenges to receiving care and inequality in accessing it are growing.

Long waiting periods for patients seeking mental health treatment are a nationwide problem. Only six states have laws similar to the one recently passed in California restricting wait times for mental health care.

Meanwhile, some insurers have begun rolling back access to telemedicine that gave patients increased flexibility to see out-of-state mental health service providers virtually. 

Cost is also a major barrier to receiving mental health care, especially for older adults who are challenged to find a provider who accepts Medicare. Otherwise, many pay out of pocket for sessions that can cost hundreds of dollars.

Addressing mental health concerns in children is an increasing priority. The number of children who visited the emergency room for suicide attempts increased by 31% in 2020, indicating that an increased number of adolescents struggled with depression during the pandemic.

However, mental health resources available to students in school and social emotional learning – a teaching philosophy that helps children cope with bullying and manage their feelings – are at risk of being cut due to increased politicization. Schools working to increase resources and dialogue surrounding mental health are being met with growing backlash from conservative parents concerned that their children are being indoctrinated with progressive ideas in the classroom.

Are We There Yet?

Need a podcast this week while you’re waiting in the TSA line, sitting in traffic, basting the turkey or trying to drown out stressful political conversations

I recently went on a roadtrip I’ll never forget – my first return to Broadway and NYC since the start of the pandemic – and asked my Facebook friends to suggest podcasts for the ride. I’ve never had so many replies – people are certainly thankful for their favorites. 

Celebrity-filled Smartless got the most votes. One friend called it “just light and hilarious,” while another warned she almost drove off the road laughing so hard. How could I resist? I found it amusing although maybe a bit of a bro fest, so here are a few additional suggestions: 

  • Under the Influence with Jo Piazza: “Really interesting look at social media, mom influencers and the billions of dollars in business there.”
  • Edith: “Fictionalized look at Edith Wilson taking over the presidency for Woodrow. So fun.”
  • Cocaine and Rhinestones: “If you like country music, it is pretty amazing.”
  • And That’s Why We Drink: “It’s a combination true crime/supernatural podcast. They are very entertaining!”
  • Wind of Change: “A riveting look at the CIA and that old familiar Scorpions song. You’ll love a trip to Gorky Park and down memory lane.”
  • The Dropout: “About Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, is fantastic. Especially relevant now that her trial is underway.”
  • Call Your Grandmother: “Uplifting and so sweet. Two East Coast biddies talking life and love.”

Climate Coup or Cop-Out?

World leaders agreed to a final climate agreement at COP26 on Saturday, but what is the final takeaway? U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry said “we are closer than ever to avoiding climate chaos.” Greta Thunberg, on the other hand, called it more “blah, blah, blah.” Both are true.

The U.S. is back – but is still hamstrung at home. President Biden, 13 Cabinet-level officials, and over 40 Members of Congress travelled to Glasgow to demonstrate “America is back” and ready to lead after four years of inaction. But recognizing the delicate political situation in Washington, the U.S. avoided certain commitments—like ending all fossil fuel subsidies—that could anger Senator Joe Manchin and imperil Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. 

Fossil fuels are on their way out – but some of the biggest polluters are dragging their feet. The final COP agreement was the first one to ever mention fossil fuels. An earlier version of the text was stronger, calling for a “phase-out” of coal. But India and China demanded a re-write to “phase-down.” 

1.5° degrees is alive – barely. Countries made a number of new commitments, including ending deforestation and cutting methane emissions, and updated their plans to reach net zero. The good news? If all those pledges were implemented, global temperatures would increase by 1.8°C, very close to the 1.5 °C goal. The bad news? An enormous gap remains between promises and action, and current policies would lead to a disastrous 2.7°C warming.

Inflation Implications

With the U.S. recording the fastest increase in inflation since 1990, FGH’s Research and Insights team asked our insight community of 300 news-attentive Americans who they hold responsible and what it means for how businesses act and communicate.

They found community members are largely sympathetic toward business— with a common perception that companies are struggling to stay profitable in the face of rising costs and are, in the words of one participant, “just keeping up with the bills.”

Seventy-eight percent believe prices are going up because businesses are dealing with increasing costs versus only 21% who say prices are going up because businesses are trying to increase their profit.

Democrats and Millennials/Gen Z are more inclined to express skepticism about whether businesses are using this as an opportunity to lift up profits or maximize shareholder return.

So what should business do to stay ahead of the issue?

  • Monitor for any disquiet on product quality. Comments were made by our community that they’re noticing a decline in the quality of products they usually buy. They are looking for peace of mind that product quality will not decrease despite higher costs.
  • Keep in mind rising support for labor. For others, the current situation puts an additional spotlight on the need for fair pay for workers and the rights of labor to be looked after.
  • Tread carefully on green policies. With many businesses understandably focused on ESG and net zero commitments, be mindful that a segment of conservative voters are likely to blame green policies for contributing to rising prices.
  • Meet consumers’ need to plan ahead. Looking ahead toward the holiday season, community members stress the need for more communication – not less – on supply chain issues so consumers can plan ahead.

A Bumpy Road for Build Back Better

It’s safe to stay the nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better social spending bill still has a way to go before becoming law. 

The ball is currently in the House, which is expected to pass the legislation this week once they receive the Congressional Budget Office score. What’s unknown is what will be in and what will be out. Tax provisions aren’t entirely ironed out, immigrations provisions likely violate Senate rules and paid family leave is on the bubble.

And then things get more complicated in the Senate. The Senate Parliamentarian determines what provisions violate the Senate rules and must come out of the legislation – known cheekily as “Byrd droppings.” That process likely means Senate action could come the last week of December. 

At the same time, Democrats will be working with moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to win their support, negotiations that could drag out the process. And once the Byrd bath and negotiations are complete, you guessed it: The Senate must have another vote-a-rama, which likely could take a week. 

AND THEN! The bill will have to go back to the House to be passed again before it can go to the president’s desk. This is all to say, there is still quite a lot of work to be done before the BBB passes into law. 

In an ideal world, it would all be done before the end of the year, but any number of things could cause a delay. 

10 Tips for Writing and Landing Op-eds

So you have something to say and want to publish an op-ed? Here are some tips to help you get there.

  1. Make sure it’s an op-ed. Are you offering a newsworthy or timely opinion? Do you have authority on the subject or a unique perspective? If not, consider self-publishing.
  1. Grab readers’ attention at the top. From the first line, your writing must compel today’s distracted reader to keep reading.
  1. Write fast, edit deliberately. Refine, read your draft out loud, ask others to edit, cut 100 words and refine again. 
  1. Keep it simple. Write in your normal voice. Short, simple words and sentences are best. Use adverbs only when no verb fits.
  1. Connect emotionally. Your reader won’t remember what you said, but how you made them feel. 
  1. Use vivid details. Small observations can say something big, like sights, sounds, smells and emotions. 
  1. Use examples. Readers often won’t remember facts or statistics, but they will remember people. Anecdotes are great for localized pitches. Examples can help de-mystify a complex topic.
  1. Maximize your chances. Landing a placement requires a well-written piece, a tightly written pitch note, an outlet that matches your audience (with backup plans) and getting your piece to the right people. 
  1. Build relationships with editors. Your piece stands a much better chance if you have a direct line to an op-ed editor. As you do outreach and land placements, work to maintain relationships with those editors to prime future pitches and learn more about what catches their eye. 
  1. Consider alternatives. If all else fails, would the piece fit your organization’s blog? Medium? LinkedIn?