The evolution of news dumps
In a 24/7 news cycle, the Friday evening news dump — a tactic historically embraced by strategic communicators in government, politics and tech as a means to bury less than stellar news — needs an upgrade.
Why it matters: There is no magic formula for releasing bad news, but identifying readership trends can provide perspective and inform timing.
Zoom in: The media monitoring platform Memo analyzed nearly 6,300 articles about Meta over the past six months to better understand how readers engage with negative news.
- The data reveals a pivot away from dumping news, in favor of burying it.
- The most recent negative news about Meta came out during major global news moments — and the attention Meta received paled in comparison.
Yes, but: Meta was not in control of when or how this information was announced or leaked, says a company spokesperson.
Between the lines: Coincidence or not, this data exposes a great strategy for communicators who want their news to fizzle against the backdrop of cultural touch points.
By the numbers: According to Memo's analysis, Sheryl Sandberg's departure announcement landed the same day as the pre-scheduled Depp v. Heard verdict, which received 25 times the readership of Sandberg's news.
- The Friday of July 4th weekend, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced belt tightening and news of staffing cuts leaked on September 21st, just days after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. That day, stories about Meta's staff cuts reached 1 million views, compared to the 24 million readers still focused on Royal news.
- 4.5 million read about Meta's layoffs on November 9th, compared to the 60 million reading about the U.S. midterm elections.
What they're saying: "News and social media are always on," Kelley McCormick, Original Strategies founder and partner told Axios. "Invest heavily in monitoring and social listening, because if there isn’t enough news or noise, your announcement could end up filling the vacuum."
- The Friday evening news dump or holiday calendar alone "won’t insulate an organization from negative coverage — and for the news dump strategy to work, it must fall under a certain threshold of interest," says Michael W. Robinson, chairman and CEO of The Montgomery Strategies Group.
The bottom line: Friday news dumps might've worked during the time of print, but comms teams that hope to bury news in this digital, always on media environment must be more strategic in their efforts.
- Examining readership trends and macro news cycles is a good place to start.