Posts Tagged ‘bbc’

Hit or Miss? BBC rewrites EastEnders ‘cot death’ story after outcry – PR Week 14/01/11

Our very own Peter Roberts, Senior Associate Director, issues and crisis management team (and a former BBC head of comms) provided his view on the recent story line change on this popular UK soap for our weekly PR trade title PR Week:

“Television’s so-called delicate issues, which includes mental health and sexual abuse is a real challenge for primetime programme makers; do them well and you’re demonstrating your public service credentials; do them badly, you’re a crass ratings chaser. I’m quite certain much consideration was given to the current storyline, but  the producers appear to have miscalculated the collective strength of feeling, which on a consolatory point is a testament to the programme’s high regard among its audience.

Clearly, it demonstrates maturity to listen to the views of your audience – and the BBC has demonstrated great progress in this regard, but it’s one thing to listen, but another to alter your story lines. In the short-term, the programme has enjoyed the extensive coverage and debate that comes with controversy, but I fear that the Eastenders  response may have set a precedent for other groups to have a disproportionate influence on their future content.”

Eurostar’s snow crisis report released

Further to our previous post on Eurostar’s pre-Christmas snow crisis, today has seen the release of an independent report into the crisis, commissioned by the company.

This BBC story is among the most balanced pieces covering the release of the report (I haven’t been able to find a copy of the report itself, so if any of our intrepid readers want to forward a copy we’d love to receive it).

What’s to be expected is that across the board, media coverage focuses on the specific problems and who’s to blame, and in this respect it doesn’t disappoint. What I would have liked to see is a bit more prominent reference to the solutions. We’ll just have to be happy with Eurostar’s commitment to invest £30-plus million in implementing all of the review’s recommendations. It’s encouraging to see that communication featured prominently in the three core recommendations handed down by the reviewers:

  • Train reliability – engineering improvements to enhance the reliability of its trains
  • Evacuation and rescue – improvements should be made to tunnel evacuation and rescue procedures, to ensure passengers can be transported from the tunnel quickly and effectively
  • Managing disruption and improving communication – improvements to assist passengers better and provide more effective communication in times of disruption.

The key word here is “effective”. Communication for its own sake is pointless at the best of times, and a downright detriment during a crisis.

There have been a number of references over the past weeks about the importance of learning from previous experience and today’s report reinforces that message.

Chris Evans – a promotion too far for the BBC?

posted by Peter Roberts

There’s been much wailing about the promotional airtime afforded by the BBC to Chris Evan’s new breakfast show on Radio 2.

The latest critic has been former Capital Radio and Virgin Radio presenter, Steve Penk.

You can read more here.
 
While I have some sympathy with Penk’s misgivings about the BBC’s cross-promotion, the debate does highlight the preciousness of editorial coverage, especially for the BBC. Fundamentally, we arrive at the question of whether Evans’ move in the schedule constitutes a new story?

The BBC’s news outlets, including BBC 1 and BBC News Online, previewed the presenter’s arrival with expansive reports.

Is this wrong? For many of the audience it is.

As is the case with reports pertaining to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, or a much publicised product launch.

However, for many individuals there’s a greater significance in football’s transfer market than the machinations in Westminster, and affairs in Albert Square, rather than Tiananmen Square.

This, of course could be overlooked if it wasn’t for the numbers who are interested, and any discerning television editor will be keeping abreast of audience engagement in such stories. Marry that interest with the fact that viewers are paying their licence fee and you have a difficult call to make.

Had a call from Watchdog?

The BBC’s Watchdog has welcomed back presenter Anne Robinson, prompting this story in PR Week. A question we often get at Hill & Knowlton is: “We got a call from Watchdog. What should we do?” Obviously that depends on what you did in the first place, but here’s a tip from Senior Associate Director, Peter Roberts: “However trying the situation, Watchdog offers businesses the opportunity to demonstrate their sincerity and ability to listen.”

It’s important to remember that the role of consumer advocates, and programmes like Watchdog, is to look at a story or issue from the consumer’s perspective. That’s a deliberate apostrophe because we’re talking about one consumer, up against the world. It’s no surprise then that many stories do come off with an anti-corporation slant.

However, it’s also important to remember that “the media” doesn’t exist for its own amusement. It’s a conduit of information between a subject (in this case the corporation or the consumer’s experience) and an audience (lots of other consumers).

So it makes sense that if consumers didn’t have complaints, there’d be little cause for these shows to exist. Of course we all have things we’re not happy about so following the argument to that conclusion is extreme – the point is this: if you get a call from Watchdog then dealing with the response is one thing. But spare a thought for why they’re calling you in the first place. Maybe there’s something that really does need fixing.