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Omaha: The News that Never Was (lost media mentions)

The News That Never Was (lost media mentions)

by Universal Information Services’ CEO, Todd Murphy


Universal Information Services, a news monitoring and media measurement service, is used to tracking all the news that impacts corporations, organizations, government agencies, and communities. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted everyone and everything. From our angle, this was most apparent by what media mentions never happened as events were cancelled due to the pandemic

The media, both traditional and social, were consumed with news and responses about the pandemic and politics. In many stories, the two topics were intertwined. But what about the news we normally see? What about the media mentions communities rely on to influence how people view a community?

Covid Days

This year, we have prepared a list of the biggest news stories that never occurred. These are annual or scheduled events that would have generated a high volume of media mentions for Omaha, but did not due to Covid-19.

We know there are many more important topics to explore, but as we end the year, we thought it might be interesting to look at what never happened in the news.

Omaha We Don't Coast We Welcome

© Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce

2019 vs. 2020 Media Mentions

#1 NCAA Men’s College World Series (2020 vs. 2019)The CWS is always the biggest hit in Omaha, year after year. But there was no CWS played this year. Total broadcast mentions went down by 4,052 mentions, which equates to over 148 million fewer impressions in 2020. That is a big loss for Omaha’s branding on a national stage.

2019: 4,252 Mentions; 168,937,734 Impressions (Nielsen)

2020: 200 Mentions; 20,447,199 Impressions


#2 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder’s Meeting (2020 vs. 2019) The Oracle of Omaha may not have foreseen the coming pandemic at the end of 2019’s Annual Meeting, but Berkshire Hathaway invested in a virtual meeting for 2020. Of course, gone were the in-person events, the hotel rooms and all the meals out when his shareholders descend on Omaha. Total broadcast mentions were down only 51 mentions, largely due to buzz over the virtual meeting, but there were 13.3 million fewer impressions in 2020. Apparently, the big media outlets like to report from Omaha and not virtually.

2019: 249 mentions; 32,686,053 Impressions

2020: 198 mentions; 19,306,788


#3 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 1st & 2nd Rounds (2020 vs. 2018) Not an exact comparison between the men’s regional tournament and the 2020 1st and 2nd Rounds, but nonetheless the pandemic did have an impact on the number of impressions and the impact Omaha had on the national scene. 2020 dropped by only 15 broadcast stories, but Omaha lost most of the big network news stories that would account for about 12.5 million impressions.

2018: 139 mentions; 15,329,527 Impressions

2020: 124 mentions; 2,830,518


#4 USA Swim Trials (2020 vs. 2016) – For a comparison on the Swim Trials, we compared 2016 to 2020, and clearly the coronavirus watered down the exposure Omaha received nationwide. Katie Ledecky made a big splash announcing the 2020 events, but hopefully Omaha will regain that exposure when the swimmers return. TV and radio mentions were down by a whopping 1,939 mentions, which equals over 99 million fewer impressions. Omaha practically owns this pre-Olympic event, which is the reason for such great coverage when the city hosts the qualifying swimmers. The good news is all the contenders will be back in the pool for 2021.

2016: 2,225 Mentions; 153,774,804 Impressions

2020: 286 Mentions; 54,446,968


#5 Big Name Concerts (2020 vs. 2019) – Omaha stands at the touring crossroads for the big musical groups traveling across the country. But after Blake Shelton stopped his show just hours before he was to take the stage, no other acts appeared in Omaha for 2020. Big concert news for Omaha was down by 169 stories, reducing impressions by nearly 5.8 million impressions year over year. Omaha’s music scene is big news, and hopefully the bands will be back to make up for lost time.

2019: 270 Mentions; 9,306,004 Impressions

2020: 101 Mentions; 1,766,961


Total Impact from Lost Media Mentions

Just looking at these five major news events for Omaha shows the impact on media mentions for a community. The good news is Omaha has a resilient business community and patrons that will no doubt turn out once the health guidelines sound the “all clear.” But to review what Omaha lost in terms of media exposure and impressions that did not happen, here are the totals.

In 2020 Omaha lost an estimated 6,226 TV and radio stories that represent opportunities to mention and promote Omaha. The stories lost in 2020 amounted to 281,185,688 fewer potential impressions Omaha was unable to make because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking forward to the New Year

Monitoring and measuring the impact of media is how companies around the world evaluate PR and communications efforts. Departments of tourism, chambers of commerce,  and state and federal agencies use media monitoring to track their impact on the public. The team at Universal Information Services looks forward to the new year and the return of events like those mentioned above.

Cheers to 2021!

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