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Fay Cross
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BBC News Cuts 450 Jobs 

Fay Cross
Fay Cross
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BBC News announced towards the end of the last month that they were cutting 450 jobsall part of a plan to save £80m by 2022The news came on the heels of another axing – the demise of  BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire programmeOther programmes likely to be among the most affected are Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live including Morning Reports and World Service’s English language output 


Fran Unsworth, head of BBC News said that it’s time to start focusing more on digital broadcasting and less on the traditional linear style such as television and radioIn other words, the BBC is very aware that the way we watch and listen to the Beeb’s content is changingAudience figures for many radio and television channels are dropping, as young people in particular watch and listen via on-demand instead 


The cut in news jobs is part of a plan to centralise reporters, so that a reduced number of journalists work across several different broadcast outletsUntil now programmes have had their own dedicated teams of journalists, specific to them; whilst this means the programmes retain their own style it also results in a lot of duplication, several BBC journalists all covering the same story albeit in slightly different ways 


What does this news mean from a PR perspective? 


From a PR point of view this brings bad and good newsOn the negative side it does mean fewer stories will be covered, therefore competition to get on air will be even more intenseHowever, on the plus side, when you secure that coverage your story will go far and wide as one journalist will provide content for several different programmes 


The change means we as PR professionals need to work even harder to get our stories seen and heardWe’ve always worked on the theory that if you make life easier for the journalists, you’re more likely to get your story usedThat means writing the press release in a broadcast style, flagging up what a TV journalist could film, clearly stating who and where are the spokespeople and providing assets like B-rollFor more about B-roll footage, what it is and how to use it, read our blog on the subject here.


Changes in how content is consumed 


Radio and television audiences may be diminishing but not they’re not going away, they’re just consuming content in a different way, and the BBC is responding to this change in a positive wayBBC Sounds, for example, is making good headway in this direction. BBC Sounds, launched in 2018 as an alternative for audio to iPlayer, is an app that brings together live and on-demand radio, music and podcasts. A bit like what Spotify does for music, the app is designed to learn from your listening habits, so you get introduced to new audio you might not otherwise have found 


The first BBC podcasts were merely recordings of radio programmesBut now you can find unique contentFor example, Radio 4’s Today programme can be heard again, but it is now accompanied by a podcast called “Beyond TodayThe BBC describes it as: 

“the daily podcast from Radio 4 that asks one big question about one big story in the news – and beyond. Tina Daheley, Matthew Price, and a team of curious producers search for answers that change the way we see the world.” The podcast Brexitcastmeanwhile, was so successful it earned itself a regular Thursday night slot on BBC 1 

From a PR point of view we should see podcasts as an additional opportunity for coverageWe have, for example, placed our client MLex on Brexitcast – a relationship we hope to continue as Brexitcast is rebranded Newscast 


Unlike radio and television, where a story generally only lasts for a day, a podcast can be available indefinitely, given a longevity to a broadcast PR campaign that we’ve not enjoyed beforeAnd the good news is that the BBC has more big plans for BBC Sounds 


How can social media video be leveraged? 


We believe similar broadcast PR opportunities can be found with social media videoITV’s This Morning, for example, has an app where they generate extra content as well as re-edited interviews and clips. This means that your client could not only be on TV, but prolonging the coverage on the appWe predict this could be the way forward for these types of shows.  


2020 has got off to a lively start for the world of broadcastAs well as BBC job cuts, Director General Lord Tony Hall announced he will be stepping down, Sarah Sands, Editor of Radio 4’s Today programme revealed she has resigned and ITN’s Alistair Stewart is also off, following some muchcriticised social media comments he’d madeIn better news, the BBC children’s programme Crackerjack is back after a 35year break and Spotify launched a series of podcasts – for dogs!  We look forward to some interesting times for broadcast PR 

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