Long Story Short

For organizations looking to tell complex stories, two encouraging developments in long-form journalism: 

  • Axios reported online readers have been scrolling farther down article pages on their desktop computers during the pandemic, and 
  • Twitter announced the acquisition of Scroll, which will enable the platform to integrate easy access to longform content. 

Neither of these developments fundamentally changes the media landscape, but they point to an appetite for long-form journalism that’s good news for coverage of important but complicated issues organizations may be tackling.

If you’re interested in pitching a long form story, it’s important to ask a few key questions before reaching out to the reporter:

  • Is this “new” news and how does it contribute to the larger narrative?
  • Can you offer the story as exclusive or a “first inside look”?
  • How much access can you provide? Access is the most important ingredient to a successful longform story.

And if you don’t land a headline, there is still a reputational benefit to being quoted or referenced in broader stories, even if your individual contribution isn’t the main focus or takeaway.

If you believe there’s a complex story to be told and you have one piece of the puzzle, consider reaching out to a number of reporters who do that type of reporting well, including: 

Pro Choice, Antitrust?

Antitrust is an abstract topic. But it becomes much more real when Americans start thinking about specific industries or where they see a lack of choice in their neighborhoods.

In wake of recent antitrust proposals from Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), we asked our insight community TrendSpotters for their take on the ideas and issues at stake. 

We heard:

  • Republicans are frustrated by a perceived lack of diversity in the media landscape –not just social media companies they see censoring conservative voices, but TV networks they view as pushing a liberal agenda. 
  • Democrats’ starting point is frustration toward the pharma and health care industries.
  • Anxieties around “utilities” – covering electricity and gas as well as internet service and cable providers – are raised unaided by Republicans and Democrats, who often see only one choice in their community. In the wake of the pandemic, an ISP is now seen as an essential utility.
  • Alongside concerns about consolidation in retail and the power of Amazon and Walmart, a few participants raise worries about consolidation in food, farming and restaurants – with fewer choices and bigger players.

The battle lines of antitrust fall on partisan lines. But some Republicans express hostility toward Big Business as well as Big Government. And views are more mixed when it comes to the proposal for companies needing to prove their deal won’t hurt competition – as opposed to the onus being on regulators to make the case.

TrendSpotters is FGH’s proprietary research tool comprising over 300 engaged voters nationwide who follow the news and politics and are civically engaged. Dig deeper here.

100 Days: A New START?

One hundred days into President Biden’s administration, a focus on working with partners and allies has been on display for the world to seebut global challenges persist.

  • A new dynamic of competition has emerged in U.S.-China relations, where both sides freely admit to tensions in the wake of escalating rhetoric over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong, Taiwan, trade and technology issues. Space exists for cooperation, but watch how both sides manage this increased level of competition across all fronts moving forward. 
    • Congress and the Biden Administration have been working in lockstep to enact a more robust set of policies toward China, including significant new domestic investments in technologies of the future. 
  • Following the extension of the New START Treaty with Russia through February 2026, things became increasingly complicated. The detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Russian responsibility for the SolarWinds cyber hack and a large troop buildup on the border with Ukraine have all strained the relationship. And the White House recently announced a new raft of sanctions. Nevertheless, Biden has stated his intention to meet President Putin during his planned June trip to Europe. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reaffirmed U.S. support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • Motion on nonproliferation, but little movement— yet. The Biden Administration has reportedly reached out through multiple channels to restart nuclear talks with North Korea— so far to no avail. Talks with Iran in Vienna have progressed, although the April 12 incident at the Nantanz nuclear facility in Iran, along with the Iranian Foreign Minister’s leaked recordings, has complicated these negotiations.

Read our full analysis here.

Speak for Yourself

With corporate leaders facing increasing pressure to speak out on social issues, FGH research finds engaged Republican voters and many Independents are strongly turned off. 

So how should organizations walk the line?

The first rule of thumb is for leaders to live and speak their values. But for other insights on corporate engagement, FGH’s research team queried our TrendSpotters community of over 300 engaged voters nationwide who follow the news and politics and are civically engaged.

This engaged audience says business leaders have an obligation to speak out on social and political issues – but this desire is driven almost entirely by Democrats. “I love it and feel it’s appropriate for business leaders particularly because they have to stand for more than profits. Making the country better is good for business,” one Democrat said.

Meanwhile, Republicans and many Independents are saying corporate activism only exacerbates divisiveness. “I can pretty much guarantee that you are not speaking for each and every employee you are pretending to represent when you speak publicly,” a Republican said.

However, there are a handful of issues where both parties agree speaking out is appropriate. Your company can gain traction across audiences by speaking to how an issue relates to your core business objectives, your workforce and your community.

  • 81% say business leaders should speak out on matters related to getting the country back to work, including 76% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats.
  • 72% say the same for laws that impact the communities where they operate (50% of Republicans, 94% of Democrats) and laws that impact their customers (52% of Republicans, 91% of Democrats).
  • 68% say business leaders should speak out on the topic of infrastructure investment (50% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats).
  • While Democrats support business leaders speaking out on most issues, engaging on immigration and reproductive healthcare are still divisive within the party.

Spotlight on Voting Laws

We specifically probed our TrendSpotters community on the open letter signed by over 100 businesses nationwide opposing any sort of discriminatory legislation.

Most were at least somewhat in favor of business leaders speaking out on this voting rights issue, but a total of 80% hold a “strong” point of view either in support or opposition – indicating just how intense emotions are on both sides of this issue.

In the end, be mindful that engagement on political matters will almost certainly bring intense and emotional reactions from both sides – even if demonstrated as part of a united front.

Because they are politically neutral, business leaders can encourage stability, calm and restraint at critical moments. Forty-five percent of Republicans and 68% of Democrats say this is a valid reason to speak out.

Saying you are fighting for “what’s right,” or invoking the expectations of your customers/employees will be less impactful and may not provide the justification needed as consumers are not likely to agree on one true principle defining these moments.

Should business leaders speak out on each of the following issues or topics?

% who say business leaders should speak out on…

Return to Work: Hot Desk or Cold Shoulder?

Now that vaccines have made it increasingly possible for companies to return to in-person work, many employees are grappling with the fact they don’t actually want to.

An overwhelming majority of employees who have worked from home over the past year want the option to continue remote work rather than return to the office full-time.

Working parents – working moms in particular– have embraced the flexibility working from home has provided and many don’t want to give it up. Without an option to continue remote work, employers may soon find employees quitting to work for another company that offers more flexibility.

Although remote work has bolstered some systemic workplace problems and led to increased burnout, the hybrid-work model is likely to become the new normal. 

To prepare for the future of work, many companies are upgrading spaces to safely welcome employees back and have begun to outline their post-pandemic policies:

  • A growing number of companies are offering new benefits, including lifestyle allowances
  • Six-in-ten executives plan to embrace more pet-friendly policies
  • LinkedIn gave employees a paid week off to recharge and avoid burnout
  • Twitter has given employees an extra day off each month to recharge

However, some employers – especially those in the legal and finance industries – are unlikely to offer a hybrid model and others are implementing a remote work cap. For example, Google employees wishing to work remotely more than 14 days a year will need to submit a formal application.

Dynamic Scoring to the Rescue?

As the White House and congressional Republicans work on trying to find common ground on competing infrastructure proposals – including the critical issue of how to pay for any package – an offset idea is beginning to surface that could be acceptable to both parties.  

Democrats and Republicans agree that the country badly needs infrastructure improvements and that they could help create jobs. Democrats want to make corporations pay for it, arguing they should contribute more for the systems their businesses rely on. Republicans oppose tax increases, instead offering up higher user tolls or gas taxes and clawing back unexpended funds from the American Rescue plan and other measures—  both of which Democrats argue would unfairly disadvantage the lower and middle class.

But there may be an idea that both can agree on.  Rather than completely paying for the proposal with spending cuts or tax increases, at least two parties are suggesting part of the cost of the proposal be offset using dynamic scoring. That means assessing the economic growth and increased revenues generated by the infrastructure spending and using that to partially pay the cost. 

  • Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said this weekend, “I’m not going to raise corporate taxes to 28%. At the end of the day, I’m willing to not pay for some of the infrastructure spending because I think it over time pays for itself.”

With Graham and House moderates saying the same thing— echoed by other members of both parties in recent times— it’s possible dynamic scoring could be thrown into the offset mix for any future infrastructure bill, whether partisan or bipartisan.