Archive for the ‘Broadcast’ Category

North West has good neighbours in the BBC

Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

In 2011 the BBC relocated all of its staff from Oxford Road in Manchester and a significant chunk of its workforce at White City in London to Media City, Salford Quays.

One year on, Staniforth was invited to see how its neighbours were settling in.

The fanfare of publicity surrounding the move – both good and bad – could not be easily ignored, so we were keen to see if the scaremongers had any ground in their criticisms. We’re pleased to report that the corporation is functioning very well at its new location in the North West, thank you.

News editor, Fiona Steggles led Staniforth on a tour of the BBC’s impressive premises and was able to shed light into how the set-up at Media City better suits the news process. Being a public service broadcaster, the BBC continually looks to provide the best possible programmes to consumers and this is evident at Media City.

The purpose-built studios mean that newsrooms, production suites and recording studios sit neatly together, making for a more efficient operation, while cross skills training and easy availability of state-of-the-art equipment means many reporters can and do self-shoot, present and edit their own bulletins.

The newsroom itself is designed to be a hub of creativity. An expansive floor plan allows easy integration between flagship programmes BBC Breakfast, North West Tonight and The Politics Show, as well as sports and Radio 5 Live. News sharing is fluid and this ensures that a story is placed where it fits best.

BBC Breakfast has really made itself at home since its first broadcast from Salford Quays in April and has not, as detractors cried, suffered from a dearth of high calibre guests in relocating, having played host to Young Musician of 2012 Laura van der Heijden, actor Will Smith and gold medallists Darren Campbell and Ellie Simmonds in recent weeks.

For PROs, opportunities for spokespeople who are locally based, flexible and able to provide relevant and impartial commentary do exist and this can be a good platform to help with interview guests. In the past the BBC has drawn on the expertise of academics from Manchester University and some of the country’s leading law firms, doctors and politicians who have their base in the North West.

As a national broadcaster, it’s important that the BBC represents the whole of the UK, its regions and diverse communities and the move northwards is certainly allowing them to do this.

Online Viewers Switch on to Public Speaking

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 by Tom Maddocks

A guest post by Tom Maddocks of Media Training Associates

In the era of the TV news ‘soundbite’, the idea of a long political speech appeared to most of us be very old-fashioned, something that would never catch the interest of people with today’s near-zero attention span.  Many would continue to make this argument, pointing to modest audiences even for the leaders’ speeches at the October party conferences.  Yet elsewhere, public speaking appears to be gaining a renaissance, with more and more presentations now being streamed across the web – the popular TED talks being just one example – these have gained over 1.5 million followers on Facebook.  Others (including all the Presidential candidates in the 2008 US election) have used to stream themselves live over the internet.  In the UK the RSA has made innovative use of the visual opportunities in its RSA Animate series – see

Could more organisations in the public, private and third sectors be making use of these opportunities to find an audience?  To succeed, you don’t need high technology – some of this stuff is recorded with very basic equipment – but if you are representing your organisation, you do need to be able to sound interesting, and look professional.  Increasingly when we run media training courses we find an element of coaching for appearing on videos or webinars is essential, even for people who think they’ll ‘never be on TV’.  So good old-fashioned presentation skills are as important as ever.  Convey energy, convey passion, convey enthusiasm, and ensure you have relevant and engaging content.  Get to the point – whatever your platform it’s usually best to take a leaf from TED’s book and keep presentations, videos etc to 20 minutes maximum –  a lot less for some topics.  Don’t let yourself appear nervous by letting your eyes wander around – if talking direct to camera, keep them to camera.  Finally, remember to smile and convey warmth, so you can really make a connection with your audience.


Knox verdict right for the media

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 by Mark Perry


It feels as if Amanda Knox’s acquittal this week is the climax of a four year long ‘PR campaign’.

In the build up to the decision by the court in Perugia, the world’s media descended on the town. We also heard from the family of Meredith Kercher who felt justly that their daughter and sister had been forgotten in the media’s focus on Knox.

As events built to Monday’s appeal decision it felt that even the timing of the verdict at almost 9pm was ideal for the American networks’ early evening news programmes.

Within 24 hours Knox was back in her town in Seattle speaking to the gathered news pack. It does however feels as if the ‘PR campaign’ has missed one important thing and something that is a key ingredient to handling a crisis situation.

At no time did she acknowledge her friend Meredith or use the opportunity to reflect on their friendship. Instead it was left to her lawyer to say that “Meredith was Amanda’s friend. Amanda and the family want you to remember Meredith and keep the Kercher family in your prayers.”

Max Clifford has been used as guide as to what she does next. His suggestion was for her to go on a TV show which has international exposure to set the record straight. There is no doubt that when she does decide to come out and tell her story that she will be well rewarded and is no doubt already agreed.

Let us not forget behind the story that Knox has to tell about her experiences in Italy and in an Italian prison that the Kercher family is still looking for closure.


About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

Osborne’s GQ appearance is PR disaster

Friday, September 9th, 2011 by Mark Perry

Should politicians be allowed to tell jokes? The answer  judging by George Osborne’s ill-advised attempt at this week’s GQ awards is no.

Mr Osborne was picking up his award for being “Politician of the Year” when during his acceptance speech in which – it has to be presumed – he was trying to be funny he made a lewd comment about the readers of the magazine.

Modesty prevents me from repeating the joke which can be seen here . As can be heard in the clip it went down badly with the star-studded audience who jeered as he exited the stage.

If in accepting the award he was trying to gain some positive personal PR you do have to ask what his advisers were thinking allowing him to appear at a red carpet star-studded event, particularly as he calls for  us all to adopt austerity measures.

He also seems, in the clip, to be reading his acceptance speech from the teleprompters. This probably means that one of his advisers wrote the lines for him which turned out to be so blatantly wrong coming from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  If they had come from the likes of Jonathan Ross no-one would even have noticed.

Perhaps it was an bungled attempt to show him to be an ordinary ‘bloke’? After all, his age places him in the target readership. I am afraid, Mr Osborne, that this is a PR fail.

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

Big Brother is back

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg

Celebrity Big Brother returns to our screens tonight, this time on a new and somewhat circumspect home, Channel 5.

Richard Desmond, who owns the channel along with Express Newspapers, will be desperate for the show to succeed before the real Big Brother kicks off later in the month.

The line-up includes X Factor’s Jedward, Kerry Katona, Pamela Anderson and the Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow.

Channel 5 appear to have kept relatively tight lipped about the format, although it’s expected to have received only minor tweaks to the C4 show that we all know, and some love.

But what will viewers make of having to switch to Channel 5? If we cast our minds back to 2008 when Aussie soap Neighbours left the BBC and moved to Channel 5, it’s said to have lost a staggering 300,000 viewers in the process.

And following the Shilpa Shetty race row in 2007, which severely tarnished Big Brother, Channel 5 is already handling damaged goods.

Then there’s the concern over media coverage. In the good old days, the red tops ran pages and pages of BB gossip but as Desmond’s empire includes rival titles the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK!, it’s unclear as to how much the Sun, Daily Mirror and other gossip and celeb mags will actually embrace the show.

What will be interesting is how much the show will utilise social networks, bearing in mind its young audience. The live internet feed is said to be a thing of the past.

On the plus side, Channel 5 is known for being more commercially minded than C4 and certainly more risqué, therefore is likely to stop at very little. We already know that a double shower and a sauna for two await contestants, if that doesn’t make for steamy viewing, what will?



Will the new Dragon breathe fire?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg


With reality shows at an all-time high (TOWIE anyone?) and the likes of The Apprentice shaking things up with a new format, Dragons’ Den can’t afford to rest on its laurels.

Back on BBC Two this Sunday, Dragons’ Den has a new and – some might say – controversial addition to its mega-rich line up.

Hilary Devey, entrepreneur and award winning business woman, will replace James Caan alongside Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis.

The daughter of a pub landlord from Bolton, Hilary Devey is no stranger to TV having already appeared on The Secret Millionaire and The Business Inspector.

Despite Devey’s unquestionable success in business (she owns Pall-Ex, a freight distribution company with an annual turnover of £100m) she has had her fair share of ups and downs in her personal life and it’s these turbulences which I suspect is what the BBC is most attracted to.

In an interview with financial website This Is Money earlier this year, Devey admits that her achievement has come at great personal cost. Among the life challenges facing her was helping her 24-year-old son to kick a chronic drug addiction.

“Sometimes I can’t help but feel responsible. I ask myself if things would have been different had I not been so busy doing Pall-Ex,” she told This Is Money.

Meanwhile, Hilary herself, who watched her parents lose everything when her father’s heating company went bust in the Sixties, has been divorced twice and suffered a stroke following a tummy tuck operation.

Clearly this is a woman who has triumphed against all odds; a positive role model with a keen interest in helping women succeed in male dominated industries. It’ll be interesting to see how she fares as the show’s new PR vehicle.


Has Andy Parfitt jumped a sinking (flag)ship?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

Yesterday’s surprise announcement that Andy Parfitt is to step down as Radio 1 Controller provoked a surge of public tributes for taking the station to where it is today. But, while the accolades continue to roll in, I can’t help thinking that Parfitt’s resignation marks the beginning of the end for Radio 1 in its current guise.

With audience numbers at a record high under Parfitt’s leadership – official measurement body RAJAR recorded listening figures of 11.83 million in the first quarter of 2011 – the popularity of Radio 1 can be at no doubt. The question, however, is how much of this audience is made up by the youth station’s target demographic, 15-to 29-year-olds.

Both 52-year-old Parfitt and his prodigal son, shock jock Chris Moyles, have come under fire for being considerably older and, dare I say it, out of touch with Radio 1’s target audience. Certainly, there has long been speculation surrounding 37-year-old Moyles’ suitability as the face of the ‘nation’s favourite’ breakfast show, although his future at the station has been secured, for the time being at least, following the signing of a reported £1 million contract.

But what next for the station that’s been criticised as being out of touch with its listeners?

Parfitt has been instrumental in progressing Radio 1 from an analogue platform to a visually stimulating and digitally relevant multimedia experience, and leaves behind him an impressive legacy that includes the launch of esteemed sister station, 1extra. His most recent reforms include the addition of a new generation of young DJs to primetime and fringe slots, such as Fearne Cotton, Greg James and Nick Grimshaw.

Perhaps Parfitt himself is aware of the changing landscape at Radio 1, in which the schedules are dominated by broadcasters who neatly sit within the target audience age bracket. It will be interesting to see if Parfitt’s as yet unnamed successor will continue with this out with the old, in with the new (and young), vein. Only time will tell if Moyles can retain his mantle as the ‘saviour of Radio 1’ or if young upstart is brought on board to capture the elusive youth market.



Edelman grasps the Murdoch PR nettle

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 by Jon Clements


Update: @tim_weber, BBC business and technology editor, sees a PR presence in the “dramatic change of tone” from News Corp.

As PR people, surely we should feel vindicated that News International’s reputation implosion has prompted the hiring of PR company Edelman for “general comms support and public affairs counsel” following the phone hacking scandal.

After all, doesn’t everyone – as in David Cameron’s oft-repeated words about Andy Coulson – deserve a second chance?

There will be some that say there is no coming back from a reputation disaster such as a newspaper hacking the phone of a murder victim and deleting voicemail messages, so giving the family false hope she was still alive.

Neverthless, reputation rehabilitation is not impossible, Edelman has got the gig and good luck to it.  But what will the PR planning agenda look like?

Rebuilding News International’s reputation is key to the Murdochs’ long game – gaining total control of BSkyB. Though it has ditched the bid now, News Corporation, News International’s parent company, needs to regain the trust of the public, politicians and regulators to stand a chance of being deemed “fit and proper” to own not just all but any of the broadcasting giant.

In terms of reputation management, closing the News of the World has been the Murdochs’ symbolic gesture that rogue companies within their organisation will pay the ultimate price, despite the inconvenient fact that the wrongdoing was done on someone else’s watch.

But for any PR provider tasked with restoring corporate reputation, having access to the “warts and all” truth of what goes on behind closed doors is essential; otherwise, life will become a continual fire-fighting exercise rather than a strategic campaign to not only talk about how the company is effecting positive change, but prove it.

And this is where I think Edelman’s biggest challenge lies: how does an outside organisation negotiate a corporate culture where the most senior executives have been willing to cover up grossly bad practices with denials,  selective amnesia or claims of complete ignorance? As Steve Richards comments in The Independent today, “Here was a company that evidently thought it was powerful enough to get away with it, able to block police enquiries and to pay off victims of crime”. Demonstrating a fundamental overhaul of corporate behaviour will need more than cosmetic communications based on half-truths to prove that change has genuinely taken root in News International.

Good PR has to be founded on truth, and Edelman needs to be confident that what News Corp is telling them – at any point – is true. As the Burson Marsteller/Facebook debacle showed, the agency has a reputation problem just as big as its client’s when forced to base a campaign on spin.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

BBC tackles social media open goal

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 by Mark Perry

Could the BBC have been shamed by the power of Twitter and the blogosphere when it decided to show the semi-final between England and France in the women’s World Cup semi-final live on BBC2 on Saturday evening.

Until then all England’s matches at the tournament had been available through the red button or as a highlights package. As the team progressed through the quarter finals questions were being asked as to why the BBC wasn’t showing the team’s achievements on the main channels. The tournament itself was receiving great support with the German tournament organisers getting near sell-out crowds.  

Comments started to appear on Twitter and on blogs with Sunder Katwala reflecting the general view that: “Several of our newspapers are reporting the tournament pretty well. But we’re being let down by the BBC which isn’t doing its job properly – so failing to promote the fast-growing women’s game with the energy we should all expect.”

It did appear as if the corporation’s reporters on Twitter felt compelled to fight back against the flack that they were receiving.

Sports reporter Jacqui Oatley tweeted that “General point to those complaining of lack of media coverage of #WWC, folk should write to sports editors BEFORE tournos to express interest.”

Nigel Adderley who was reporting following the tournament in Germany for 5Live re-tweeted The Guardian’s John Ashdown’s comments; “Worth pointing out while the BBC is getting all this flak that they have made up 50% of the British national press pack over here #wwc2011.” and later he tweeted comments from England manager Hope Powell saying: “I have to compliment the BBC. They’ve been fantastic for women’s football and how they’ve raised our profile”#bbcfootball.”

The general feeling reading those was that they were feeling defensive about the accusations and, lo and behold, less than 24 hours before the game the BBC seemed to turn tail and cleared re-runs of Porridge, Flog it! and Dads’ Army to show the game. But just like the men’s game the team went out after extra time and penalties.

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

Exclusives, Embargoes…forget it

Friday, July 8th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg

It’s about time that us PR people faced up to the fact that exclusives are long gone.

Along with the Twitter revolution came a complete shift in communication dynamics. In just 140 characters, a piece of sensitive or ill-timed information can be spilt to the world and there is absolutely no way of it being controlled.

The BBC may well have “clear guidelines” in place for both the personal and professional use of social media by its staff, writers and talent but they can never put a ban on it. And because it’s an incredibly effective communication tool (when they want it to be) they would be fools to themselves should they even attempt to enforce any such ban.

But even “clear guidelines” are somewhat naïve. With so many freelancers working in the media industry, stories, or just little nuggets of PR gold, will always be leaked.

And, in the world of entertainment, if the “talent” (with hoards of followers) sends the tweet – bingo! Multiple media outlets are reached.

Take the recent Sophie Ellis-Bextor debacle; this week she tweeted to her 43,230 followers that she and Sting were to appear in a new Ricky Gervais series, Life’s Too Short. Apart from it irritating the BBC’s PR department, what harm has this allegedly innocent tweet actually caused? Ok, its timing might not have fit with the BBC’s publicity schedule and it may well have put paid to a promised exclusive or timed interview. However, in the fragmented media world we are now living in, it’s time we accepted that this is just the ways it’s going to be.

So how about embracing this shift in communication and see it as a seeding process? Assume that all orchestrated announcements will begin their journey on Twitter or some other social media channel. It’s then the job of the PR person to be clever in how they demonstrate its value.