The coronavirus pandemic has leveled a blow to local businesses around the globe. Estimates suggest that 15,000 U.S. retailers could be forced to permanently shut their doors as a result of the crisis, while 50% of small businesses polled in a Goldman Sachs survey said they may not survive the next three months.

Publishers have a role to play to support local businesses as a growing number of people turn to media outlets for information on COVID-19. Subscriptions to print newspapers have recently increased, according to Newsworks (a national newspaper organization in the U.K.), and digital outlets have seen spikes in traffic as large as 50%.

“There’s an uplift in…comments on articles [and] shares. So people are not just passively absorbing it—they are actively engaging with the content,” Denise Turner, Insight Director at Newsworks said during a World Media Group webinar

Here are a few ways media companies are harnessing these developments for good and supporting local businesses:

Advertising

CNN, BBC Global News, and Euronews have joined forces to supply $50 million of free advertising space for public health-related messages with the potential to reach up to 800 million people. “There’s a role for commercial players like us, and it’s important that everyone steps up and tries to do their bit,” Jim Egan, BBC Global News CEO, told Digiday. 

Gannett Media newspapers The Providence Journal and The Telegram & Gazette are also providing free print and digital advertising packages to local businesses in the U.S. that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

POPSUGAR, America’s top women’s lifestyle website in terms of engagement, is offering 50 million advertising impressions and graphic design assistance to women-led businesses. “As a female founder, we want to support the other incredible, women-led companies during these unprecedented times,” POPSUGAR Founder and President Lisa Sugar told What’s New In Publishing.

Down under, News Corp Australia is providing companies in various sectors—for example, travel, retail, and utilities$8 million of free print advertising inventory to help these organizations share updates with stakeholders and promote access to accurate information.

Offering education

Daily Herald Media Group and Borrell Associates teamed up recently to offer local businesses a free crisis marketing webinar. Attendees learned how to communicate appropriately and effectively with customers during difficult times, as well as had an opportunity to discuss common concerns.

National Geographic Learning has come to the aid of K-12 teachers in the U.S. with free access to eBooks and digital learning platforms. The company is also supporting teachers who are shifting to online education by providing free training. Leading book publishers are getting on board as well with educational programs for schools, libraries, bookstores, and readers.

Free digital distribution

London publishing company Exact Editions is offering an emergency digital distribution solution to magazine publishers at no charge. The solution’s purpose is to help fill holes in magazines’ publishing schedules caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Giving thanks to essential workers

Not everyone is in a position to take shelter at home during this pandemic. In response, publishers are recognizing frontline workers and sharing messages of thanks for their service. In the U.K., several members of the out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry have united to donate media space for a campaign called Grateful Britain that will run through May.

The Grateful Britain campaign strikes a lighthearted tone with copy that reads: “Thank you to our croc wearin’, patient carin’, stethoscope slingin’, bin collectin’, letter postin’, prescription fillin’, shelf stackin’, lorry drivin’, loo roll deliverin’ heroes.”

In Australia, OOH company JCDecaux has created a similar campaign that shows gratitude to nurses and other frontline workers, as well as a campaign in partnership with Broadsheet Media that promotes support for local businesses, and another that raises awareness for mental health.

Join the movement to stand with small businesses

Publishers are stepping up to the plate for local businesses. There are a few ways we can all do our part, including shopping online, purchasing gift cards and delivery, and rescheduling services rather than canceling them outright.

However, some publishers are, in fact, small businesses and they’re struggling, too. Here is some of the best advice we’ve seen for publishers so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.