Category News & Work

The BBC PR Experience


Stacy our PR & Events Account Manager delves into the BBC Experience

This month Bracken and Stacy attended a special event held at BBC Broadcasting House in Bristol to get a ‘behind the scenes’ experience and to have an exclusive Q&A session with some of the senior news editors and producers.

For Bracken this was a nostalgic trip into a world that she spent 15 years working within, but for Stacy this was an opportunity to get an inside look at the way that BBC television and radio coverage is sourced, edited, produced and broadcast and more importantly for both of them, how the changing landscape of media here down in the south west affects the way that we can successfully pitch our client’s coverage.

Stacy said; “It was very interesting to see how the staff working in a newsroom actually operate – for example which shows have producers or production teams, and which presenters do their own producing, how news stories are gathered for TV and how the minimising of TV and Radio staff really affects the way that they can gather information for the day’s news and feature programmes. We were able to get a good insight into how our own work might be tailored to help the journalists and what the content of those approaches should be.”

With limited time for each news bulletin, it is often the choice of the rather over-worked Producer to decide at the last minute whether a breaking news story should take priority over something that already sits within the running order (known in the business as a ‘package’). Therefore a story can be changed or dropped altogether in the 30 minutes that they might be on air – leaving a PR person feeling rather red-faced when they have to explain to their client why their day of filming and interviews never saw the public light of day.

Bracken said; “The tour took us through the newsroom where we were able to observe Points West, the daily news programme, going out live. We were also able to sense the atmosphere and frenzied activity that a newsroom has – 5pm on a weekday evening is NOT a good time to be phoning a TV journalist to pitch an idea for a news story! However 3pm the day before, in readiness for the following day’s early morning news meeting is just about perfect.”

The main highlight of the event was a Q&A session with Lucio Mesquita, Head of Local Programmes, Neil Bennett the BBC Points West Director and Jason Dean, Assistant Editor of BBC Radio Bristol. Faced with a room full of PR professionals they were put through their paces answering questions such as “how do we get our story/event/client on the television and/or radio to promote what we want without breaking BBC advertising rules”, “How would you prefer us to approach you with a story and how much upfront information should we put into a press release or email?”, “Should we email or telephone first?” and “What is the future of regional television and radio?”.

Bracken Jelier PR Director here at Chalk & Ward used to work for the BBC and jumped at the chance to revisit and find out how it's changed over the yearsWe thought that a helpful summary of some of the feedback from Bracken and Stacy to the rest of the team here at Chalk & Ward would also be useful to our clients.

  • Recent figures shows that 20% of all radio listeners only listen to regional stations and the majority of that percentage pick one station and are loyal to it.
  • Local news (broadcast and print) is more trusted regionally for news related to the local area than national news coverage of the same story.
  • Regional BBC social media followers are generally younger than the average listener (55+) so social media follows (around 30) don’t tend to listen to shows but do ‘follow’ their stories and news.
  • If a client had a great news story but wanted to it to run with the condition that the company, event or product had to be mentioned by name several times then the likelihood is that the BBC wouldn’t run it unless it was absolutely editorially relevant. They advised that the BBC guidelines should be regularly checked and are available on the website.
  •  Jason Dean said he gets on average about 200 emails & calls PER DAY from PR people and companies with a ‘story’. Only 5% are relevant!
  • The BBC value getting insight into sector and industry news, not just for broadcast for but for their own journalist’s learning and are open to being offered the opportunity to sit down and do a ‘round table’ discussion