Notes from July PPC meeting – Television
Tom Fenner, BBC One The One Show – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam McAlister, BBC Two Newsnight – email@example.com
Anja Popp, Channel 4 News – firstname.lastname@example.org
The end of 2016 sees the 10th anniversary of The One Show.
The One Show is the introduction to the evening on BBC One and is the bridge between the news and entertainment programmes. It covers anything topical, history, current affairs, etc and is the largest guest based show on TV followed by Graham Norton, then Jonathan Ross and then daytime shows.
It is the most pan-British watched programme with an almost equal audience split between male and female – (49% M, 51% F) and an average age of 55 (which is the same as Radio 2). They have a 3.5 million core audience spread throughout the UK.
BARB figs from January:
4.5 mil – The One Show
3.4 mil – Graham Norton
2.3 mil – Jonathan Ross
1.5 mil – BBC Breakfast
900k – 500k for the rest – Lorraine, This Morning, etc
The Bookseller and Waterstones rate the show as one of the best for seeing a sales spike post-appearance.
The show can engage with books on two fronts:
Celebrity – for the tabloid audience rather than broadsheet/R4. Biogs, TV tie-ins. For example – Boris Johnson, Susan Calman, Hilary Clinton, Ian Hislop. They can’t really cover debuts or lifestyle.
Films – they commission 700 films per year for the show (roughly 3 per show) and forward plan up to two years in advance. Anniversaries are key to this and provide a great hook. Email ideas for VTs to Tom and he’ll pass them on.. Examples of previous films include – a book about trees, clouds, they combined with Penguin on a book about Iris Grace (a young child with autism).
Pitching – make sure you have watched the show a couple of times first! If you make a promise on an email (such as ‘I’ll follow up with a call in a week’ ) – do so, show yourself to be reliable. Don’t pitch too niche, keep it mainstream to suit the show. Back up emails with a phone call and don’t be afraid to chase. Do keep in mind that as much as he’d like to, Tom can’t reply to all emails.
Exclusivity – of course everyone wants to go first and the One Show feel that their viewing figures give a good reason to require this but it does depend on the profile of the star. Tom’s advice is, when looking after a high profile author/celebrity, to approach producers according to your plan – be honest but he’d prefer to be approached first where possible. Do forward plan and there’s no such thing as too early.
Short notice – they can call on the day for guests if they have someone drop out. Be appreciative of the opportunity and they always appreciate people trying their hardest to get a guest on the show with only a few hours notice.
Practical – they film at New Broadcasting House, 6.15pm call, 6.30pm camera ready, 7.35pm finish (as the show finishes at 7.30pm).
Meetings/ catalogues – Tom likes to speak to publicists regularly about upcoming titles and really likes up to date catalogues. No proofs or press copies are needed until an author is booked so don’t include them on mailings – information on email or the phone is all that’s needed.
Newsnight basically has a blank slate – they cover an eclectic mix of topics. From Margaret Atwood to Dan Brown, from Madonna to Hillary Clinton. They are after integrity of product above all else.
There are no lead times, call at any time whether something breaking for that day or next, or something for weeks or months ahead. Of course planning months ahead is preferred but she understands it isn’t always possible.
A good example of something where Newsnight and a publisher worked together was on an interview with Gina and Amanda, survivors of the Castro kidnapping. This interview took up 20 minutes of a 45 minute programme and was nominated for a coveted RTS, Royal Television Society, award – the only nomination to come from a book interview. The book spiked massively on Amazon and the video is still online with around 2 million views.
Sam can help out when big news stories break so do call at anytime if something super newsworthy happens during a campaign you are working on.
Meetings – Sam is happy to meet for coffee to highlight key authors.
Sam’s advice to publicists is not to lie about what other broadcast outlets you are talking to or have secured and also not to hold a grudge if things don’t work out. It’s a waste of both people’s time if you already have an entire broadcast schedule lined up – and also a waste of budgets.
They always aim to make interviews a success and increase their longevity by posting online. They have access to 23 million unique users by placing items on the BBC News website
Pitching – email is always preferable but do feel free to chase. Sam tends to send an answer straight back if it’s an immediate no. Do send a book and press release once pitched, Plus photos, footage, etc. Photos help the story have longevity – for example, from the interview with Becky Watson’s Dad they used photos from the book on the show which were then used across the world.
The interviews – guests aren’t just asked about the book/project but also about related current affairs or news elements. This makes it a unique interview.
Audience – they have an audience similar to Radio 4, a metropolitan audience clued in to the news agenda of the day.
They do pre-recorded interviews and live interviews at 10pm. The pre-rec runs as live. They also do illustrated interviews with archive footage and then long form films such as the interview with the Columbine mum and the Castro girls.
The Channel 4 newsroom is small so they work closely together.
Their slot is 7 -8pm so prime time.
There are various options for book coverage:
Main interview – this needs to be live wherever possible. The author will be high profile or super newsy.
On the day – authors used for commentating on a news item. They like to build relationships with authors to use as experts in the future. Pick up the phone if you have authors that can be used in relation to a news story.
Types of book they cover – similar spec to Newsnight, anyone and anything. Their audience is younger, more diverse, more female and from more ethnic backgrounds.
They do smaller interviews as part of a group and also VTs. There’s a range of options and they’re always keen to look for different content.
Pitching – be clear on who the author is, why they’d be good for Channel 4 and do chase. Anja always tries to reply.
Lead times – they try to book their big guests roughly 4 weeks in advance.
Exclusivity – they’re always keen for first interview but do understand this isn’t always possible.
Online – they have an amazing online team who are always looking for ways of getting content out whether via website, Facebook, etc. These posts are targeted at their audience and receive over a million views per day. They are trying to lower their target audience age via social media activity.
Meetings – Anja find publicist meetings really useful and likes to be kept up to date with catalogues and email about key acquisitions.
Review copies – do send copies of books but email first as they get a lot of titles that aren’t relevant. Once an author is booked they need good images, photos and footage where possible.