Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

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.

The truth is out there

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

In the wake of allegations of plagiarism and phone hacking, the good reputation of the British media suffered a further blow last week when it emerged that a story featured in several of the major news outlets – including the BBC, Daily Mail and The Telegraph – was an elaborate hoax.

The article in question stemmed from phoney psychometric consulting company, AptiQuant, which claimed that Internet Explorer (IE) users possessed significantly lower intelligence than those using other browsers. As well as being highly offensive, the report was flagged up by readers of the BBC website as completely and utterly untrue.

As shocking as this incident is, the IE IQ fabrication isn’t the only dubious tale to feature in the press of late. The recent case of Thornton v The Telegraph also brought issues of culpability to the fore, in which journalist Sarah Thornton successfully sued acclaimed author Lynn Barber for libel. Barber was found to have made a slew of untrue claims in her review of Thornton’s non-fiction narrative, Seven Days in the Art World; effectively, she was judged guilty of lying for calling Thornton a liar.

While I don’t wish to get into a debate on the wider issues surrounding the Barber review and the fine line between subjective criticism and categorical falsity, what this story and the IE IQ hoax signify is a greater need for accountability in the media.

I am not advocating that journalists move to a system of stringent referencing complete with academic Cliff notes, but they certainly need to stop these incidents happening. If, as the marketing bods so often like to tell us, content is king, then getting the facts right should surely play an important part of this reign.


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.

Thompson’s nod to social media power

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 by Jon Clements

If the holiday weekend excitement took your attention away from the BBC director general, Mark Thompson’s MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, you can find a handy summary of the main points c/o of the BBC here and a media overview here.

But in the midst of the gladiatorial BBC vs Sky debate, what I noticed in the Guardian’s extract from his speech was the mention of Twitter; how the news about BBC cuts “provoked an extraordinary rash of Twitter feeds…” and that “some of those ‘I love the BBC’ Twitter feeds trended in the top five in the world”. And all because “they care about British television and …will be prepared to fight for it in their thousands and perhaps their millions”.

Is this the first time a BBC director general has acknowledged the influence of social media on shaping decisions made in higher places? Clearly, the references to Twitter had to be carefully chosen, knowing the surgeon-like precision with which  this year’s MacTaggart lecture would be dissected.

It’s one thing – as the BBC does – to use social media as a channel, but quite another to recognise it as a world-wide driver of opinion to be taken seriously.

I wonder what James Murdoch makes of all that? And, if he does Tweet, does he do it (as the article at the end of the previous link would suggest) standing up?

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 ''

Social media sanctified by the BBC?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by Jon Clements

PR Media Blog, when it comes to religion, is at the very least agnostic and certainly non-denominational.

But when the venerable institution of BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day talks social media, quotes Mark Zuckerberg and namechecks YouTube, we simply have to listen.

There’s no doubt that TFTD has divided opinion, with Christians championing the need for religious broadcasting while humanists and atheists urging the broadcaster to do less, if any, God at all.

But, sometimes, the chosen TFTD speaker manages to harness the zeitgeist and build a meaningful connection between faith and a modern, technological world, seemingly indifferent to the church.

Read here or listen to here what the Rev Dr David Wilkinson says about social media and the importance of relationships.

Could social media be the saviour of religion or, ultimately, become its replacement? To paraphrase Karl Marx, could social media be the new opium of the people?

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 ''

Broadcasters’ respond to Haiti earthquake

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 by Mark Perry


With 24 hour news channels we have instant access to the latest information when incidents like the Haiti earthquake happen. Within hours broadcasters have teams reporting from the front line.

But what we don’t often think about is how many people broadcasters like the BBC, Sky and others are committing to the story and how they are able to sustain themselves while all around there appears to be hardship and suffering. 

This was the subject tackled on Newswatch, a 15 minute weekly segment on News 24, where the public get to ask questions about the BBC’s news coverage.

It was interesting to learn from John Williams, BBC World news editor, that a team of 20 people including reporters, engineers and cameramen were providing coverage across the BBC news outlets. ITV News has 22 and Channel 4 News 14 while the figure from Sky is unknown. That is just from the UK and other news organisations from around the world are also on the ground in Haiti. 

Is there really a need for 56 people from different organisations to provide the UK with news about the earthquake and its aftermath?

You just wonder if in unprecedented circumstances like this if the news organisations should not have an agreement where they can pool resources, much as they do in conflict zones. I am sure there would still be opportunities for them to get their own ‘take’ on the story.  

What John Williams also revealed was that the supplies they need in terms of water and ration packs are brought in so not as burden the emergency aid. They had also been able to locate a hotel which was still standing after the earthquake to use as their base.

It cannot be denied, however, that their pictures have played a key part in driving public donations to the charity appeals.

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.

Are you a trustworthy business? Then say it!

Monday, October 12th, 2009 by Jon Clements

Update: Efforts to rebuild trust are clearly striking a chord with businesses by the look of this PR Week case study.

If business leaders breathed a sigh of relief that they weren’t politicians when the UK Parliamentary expenses scandal blew up, they should beware of feeling smug.

A recent poll by Ipsos Mori revealed the public’s distrust is not reserved for our political class, but business people too.

Net trust in business leaders – according to the poll – has fallen to its lowest level since the research began in 1983 and placed business fourth from bottom among 16 groups in terms of truthfulness.

In that context, it seems strange that the leading business organisations were unwilling to mount a defence of commerce and industry, with the Confederation of British Industry telling The Observer:  “We are just not going to comment on the survey” and the Institute of Directors not replying. Why the reluctance to fight business’ corner? After all, not everyone in business works in banking.

In last week’s conference staged by the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) entitled, “Emerging from recession”, the issue of trust was very much on the agenda, with the BBC’s director of communications, Ed Williams, running a session on rebuilding trust and posing the question: “How do we restore public confidence in organisations and rebuild reputations to emerge stronger in the future?”

Among the Tweets from the conference quoting Williams, helpfully supplied by Orchid Communications, the Mori poll’s point was reiterated: people trust companies a lot less than they did a year ago. And, thanks to David McNamara’s tweet, we learned what Ed Williams feels is the best strategy to deliver trust: “openness”.

The credit crunch, the banking crisis, the fall of Lehmann Bros and Fred Goodwin’s pension package have done little to warm the cockles of the public’s heart towards business people. And that’s terribly sad, as those enterprises which go about their business providing employment, behaving ethically and responsibly, creating things of value for their customers and occupying a meaningful place in their communities have nothing to be ashamed of. Yet they are lumped in with the rest of them in a skip marked “untrustworthy”.

And that’s where business needs to come out fighting. If public opinion has decided business is unprincipled, it’s not going to change on its own; it needs to be persuaded otherwise. And that’s where openness comes in. It’s not about revealing your competitive advantage or the details of boardroom arguments, but being able to communicate effectively across the landscape of what you do and why it’s important. That means recognising it’s not always possible to tell a happy story each time your organisation speaks. In fact, it could include having to apologise when your business has messed up. But being proud and vocal about your achievements – while maintaining transparency about your shortcomings – is all part of building trust.

A more recent, and critical, development in this problem for business is the advent of social media: online, peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge, information and opinions about a myriad of subjects. And that could include your business. Chris Brogan, a veteran of using social media for business, warns how communications around a company are no longer within the organisation’s exclusive control. But social media presents an opportunity also, to show greater transparency and enhance reputation and trust. 

I’m pleased to say Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has been willing to participate in the debate and its deputy chief executive, Chris Fletcher, told PR Media Blog:

“It’s natural for the public to be suspicious of large corporations and this can be a positive thing in ensuring that businesses are held accountable for their actions. However, I think a big problem is that business leaders equate to bankers in most people’s minds and this carries connotations of huge profits, big bonuses and inflated salaries. Actually, the vast majority of UK businesses are small to medium and are struggling in the current climate. These businesses play a huge part in driving us out of a recession and need all the support they can get. It’s the Chamber’s role to provide this support and to fight their corner by taking their concerns to the right people for action.”

Whether the present government succeeds in winning a further term in office, or not, it is right to ensure that public trust in politicians of any hue is clawed back by drawing a line under the expenses debacle. And even MPs unscathed by the scandal will have to justify their party political peers on the doorsteps come election time.

And the same goes for business. You might be doing great things and be great people; just don’t assume that anyone beyond the factory gates or the web portal believes you are.

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 North reaches out to region’s creativity

Friday, September 11th, 2009 by Jon Clements

The BBC’s move to Salford’s Media City will “reinvent the BBC for the north” and be an opportunity for regional, creative businesses to work hand-in-hand with the organisation.

This was the unequivocal message from two of the most senior members of the corporation’s Marketing, Communications and Audiences Organisation (MC&A) at BBC Manchester last night.

Sharon Baylay, BBC executive board member with responsibility for MC&A  said: “Brands attract brands and we will be building Manchester and Salford as destinations for the creative industries, especially the digital and online sector which are so integrated with what the BBC is doing moving forward.”

The MC&A’s Jacky Brandreth, director of brand and planning, added: “The vision for the BBC is connecting better with audiences across the north and having creative talent living and breathing in the region.”

It was, undoubtedly, a promising sign for the audience of north west agencies and media companies that the BBC is taking its relationship with local business seriously enough to field such senior executives for a face-to-face Q&A session.

And among the 30 staff MC&A North will employ in the region, more than 20 of those will be newly-created positions.

The BBC’s Media City operation will host children’s programming, entertainment, FiveLive, BBC Sport, alongside regional and local programmes, among others. Even the Match of the Day studio will be in spitting distance of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium.

Brandreth said: “This is about opening up the conversation and creating an ongoing dialogue with people and organisations here.”

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 ''

Clever PR makes quick headlines for the BBC

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 by Jo Rosenberg


With the furore of press coverage the story achieved, it was hard to miss the fact that some of the BBC’s “top talent” are facing drastic pay cuts. It was reported that a gathering of stars were invited to a less than extravagant affair held at Television Centre to be told that anyone earning over £100,000 a year would face a massive pay cut, with some deals being halved.

Brucie is now contemplating his future as host on Strictly Come Dancing as his considerable £900,000 earnings could be slashed to a mere £500,000.

Terry Wogan, who’s Radio 2 breakfast show Wake up to Wogan averages 7.8 million listeners a week, is facing a similar cut, from £800,000 to £500,000.

Other personalities who may face a drop in salary when their contracts come up for renewal include Chris Moyles, Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Ross.

In the current economic climate it comes as no surprise that the BBC is making “efficiency savings” and talent fees are not excluded from the economic pressures.

It’s also no secret that ITV and Channel 4 are struggling in these hard economic times, but throw the licence fee – that’s public money – into the melting pot and it becomes a rather more interesting issue.

As the Telegraph’s Neil Midgley writes; “the PR line from the BBC is clear. Don’t take the licence fee away from us.”

With the amount of press coverage this “top talent” gathering attracted, it soon became clear that the BBC’s PR machine has been working particularly hard since the report by the House of Commons public accounts select committee which criticised the corporation’s reluctance to open its books to public scrutiny, not to mention separate talks of freezing the licence fee.

Clearly the BBC must be seen to be doing all it can to make savings and not waste public money on hugely inflated salaries and what better way to tell the world that’s what it’s doing than at the expense, quite literally, of its biggest, news generating stars.

With this in mind, one can’t help question whether the recent pay cuts were more of a shrewd PR move than a strategic business decision, as it seems the corporation’s freelance production staff (who can command £1,000 a week or more) have, for the moment, been left unscathed.

Last week the Times suggested that BBC insiders hoped that a high-profile name would walk out in a row over pay, to allow the corporation to say that it is refusing to meet overpriced salary demands.  But that doesn’t seem likely. No big stars have publicly complained which is now rather incidental as the headlines have already been grabbed.

Google meets the mob

Friday, April 3rd, 2009 by Jon Clements

UPDATE #2: This is what Rory Cellan-Jones found in belligerent Buckinghamshire and this is what he says.

UPDATE: Hear what Google has to say about it.

 As I write, BBC technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones is on his way to the Buckinghamshire village of Broughton, where the locals are revolting.

Is this a copy-cat outbreak of #G20 summit protests? Actually, no; it’s all about the Web’s favourite search engine Google.  

According to news sources, local residents have sent the Google Street View vehicle packing by forming a human barricade. Thames Valley Police, in customary non-judgemental police speak, report a “dispute between a crowd of people and a Google Street View contractor”. It’s about privacy, say Broughton’s inhabitants; Google says it’s working within the law and that there’s “an easy way to request removal of imagery”.

What’s got Broughton so hot under the collar? According to UpMyStreet the inhabitants have a bigger predilection for “golf, gardening and visiting National Trust properties” – hardly the stuff of anarchic, direct action.

But while Google sees Street View as a “rich, immersive browsing experience”, some Broughton people see it as a burglars’ charter.

Just this week, while talking with a client about the impact of social media, the question was mooted: “Has Google gone too far with Street View?” But despite the privacy backlash on its launch, there was no suggestion it would result in Home Counties’ insurrection.

Twittering lawyer, John Halton, pictures a baying medieval mob, though is careful to disclaim this view:


Others in the Twitterverse are divided on the topic, but have the “good people of Broughton” touched a nerve within the populace that Google – maybe over-estimating the benign acceptance it enjoys around the world – never anticipated?  

Broughton seems to be saying: “Listen Google, I’m happy for you to track down the cheapest car insurance and my secondary school sweetheart, but keep your 360 degree cyber nose out of my property.” An Englishman’s home remains his castle, it seems. You don’t get much more medieval than that.

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 ''