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It’s no surprise to anyone that the way we are seeking and receiving news has been changing and evolving. Gone are the days of starting your morning off with a coffee and newspaper, listening to news radio on the way to work or waiting for the 6 or 11 PM evening news. Over the years, news media has evolved to include blended online/print publications, 24-hour news stations, online news, and more recently, online social media and cell phone notifications.

Recent events and changes to the workplace have only accelerated the change. Federal marketers, like many others, must respond and adapt to these changes or else get left behind.

Many External Factors Affect Federal News Consumption

In years past, we have focused our Federal Media & Marketing Study on media channel preferences and the level of trust and confidence in those media properties. In many areas, 2020 was an accelerator, with both the onset of COVID19 as well as historical elections. The impact of the year’s events on the amount of news and the sources relied upon were reflected in the 2020 study results of federal respondents, including:

  • Dousing the firewalls. Federal respondents’ ability to telework improved access to previously blocked sites on personal devices throughout the day.
  • Shrink in the ink (including industry print). Most print publications were delivered to workplaces and passed along to colleagues. With employees working remotely, many lost access to these resources.
  • Drive time crash. Remote work affected “morning drive” listenership negatively and likely will into the future; however, we heard anecdotally that listenership did spread and increased throughout the workday.
  • Say her name. Daily radio listenership showed increases, potentially attributed to news radio being available streaming and easily summoned via Alexa/Google.
  • Sourdough recipes and the news. Federal employees could access social media on personal devices throughout the day. LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit usage increased significantly in 2020. Pandemic updates and a historic election year, with candidates and campaigns communicating much more via social media channels, put social media front and center.
  • Skeptics abound. There was also a significant decline in confidence across media outlets in 2020. Political polarization and concern with media bias continued.

Feds, like the rest of us, are affected by extenuating factors. Marketers must not always rely on tried-and-true methods of the past but keep an eye on the horizon and make necessary pivots based on data available.

What Should Federal Marketers Pay Attention to in 2021?

We’ll continue to look at trends and impacts on federal employees’ media usage, preferences, new and upcoming channels, and NEW THIS YEAR, where feds go for their local and breaking news.

Where federal employees go for local news can prove to be useful in building a tailored media plan across the country. A better understanding of “go-to” news sources and trusted news channels can put your message where their mind is. This may be the place to concentrate both paid and unpaid media and marketing efforts.

Need data to help make informed media purchasing decisions? Our 2021 Federal Media & Marketing Study provides the information you need.

Need more custom research to learn about your customer’s needs, challenges, barriers, perceptions and preferences, contact us to see how we can help.