Martin Frizell, Headline Speaker
At Shout! Communications’ Big Talk event, hosted by Instinctif Partners, we were lucky enough to have TV royalty closing the show. Martin Frizell, Editor of ITV’s daytime mainstay powerhouse This Morning, has seen it all, so we were delighted to welcome him to give his view into the working of one of the nations most revered and loved shows.
About Martin Frizzle
Martin Frizell’s stellar career, which began in print, has seen him both in front and behind the camera. Seven years as senior correspondent for ITV’s GMTV (now Good Morning Britain) led to him winning the Royal Television Society Award for journalism. Having covered major news stories, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, Martin became Editor of GMTV, then the UK’s most watched television breakfast show, for the best part of a decade.
A couple of years as Australia’s Channel 7’s UK correspondent, and a similar amount of time in PR at GolinHarris led Martin Frizell full circle. In 2014 he became Editor of ITV’s Loose Women and in 2016 he picked up the reins of Editor at This Morning.
As Editor, Martin Frizell leads a team of producers and presenters. Whether there are presenters in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, controversial guests or maintaining audience figures, ultimately the buck stops with him.
About This Morning
ITV’s This Morning has been going since 1988, making it one of the longest running daytime programmes on British television. It broadcasts live on weekdays from 1000 to 1230. It describes itself as a magazine programme, meaning it is made up of a mixture of news, show biz and lifestyle features, which sit alongside live phone-ins and competitions.
After 30 years on the Southbank, the sale of ITV Studios and subsequent re-development resulted in the programme moving to White City into the old BBC Television Centre.
The show was presented for more than a decade after its launch by husband and wife team Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. More recently it was fronted by Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby with Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary on Fridays. But in May 2023 Schofield left first This Morning then ITV altogether, after admitting to an affair with a much younger runner on the show, that he’d fronted for 21 years. Holly Willoughby is now co presenting with Craig Doyle.
In today’s shifting broadcast landscape, the main thing that has struck Martin Frizell is how This Morning is no longer a linear 2 hour show every week day with the average viewer a 53 year old so called housewife. These days, it’s a full 24/7 service that has to cater for ages, genders and geographical areas.
“If we don’t get 1000 comments on a post we’re disappointed.”
Then there are the multiple formats. Martin stressed that whilst the show itself is still obviously the main focus, they have seen an incredible rise in consumption of material through social platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. If they don’t see a base level of 1000 comments on a post they are disappointed!
Martin says rather than seeing the rise of social media as a threat to TV output and viewing figures, he embraces it holistically. They have no set area or dedicated time slot for social media segments, but rather see it as all encompassing. People watch the show, then get involved, whether it be by interacting with presenters or with each other. And now catch up and on-the-go are so big it pays for the producers to create additional content from the show for online, and overall consumption of the This Morning brand goes up.
This Morning’s audience
This Morning has seen a big increase in viewers from abroad, so this in turn makes the show 24/7 by nature. Martin believes the idea of having to manage audience decline is a moot point, as This Morning proves; the programme’s viewing figures are up year on year, because if you find the right formula, Martin says, you don’t need to worry about it, people will tune in and this he believes is what makes the show so special.
This Morning is a show that leans heavily on companionship; a show that is dependable and trustworthy. It is not a news show, although it will cover the big issues of the day. At the same time it’s also not afraid to cover lighter, slightly niche stories. The average viewing age is 53 but because of the time it airs the audience also encompasses a wide demographic that includes unemployed people, flexi workers and students. Content therefore must appeal to all and leads to the brand very much being family orientated. It covers a lot of issues to do with pastoral care (they have a 24/7 resident counsellor on request) but also has a lovely warmth and togetherness that comes from its presenters, as well as the humour and fun they and the regular contributing journalists bring to the show.
“Journalists suspicions of PRs have gone – there are huge opportunities with the added content being produced.”
In regards to PR professionals, Martin Frizell sees no issues between the relationship with us and those in broadcast. Rather he sees it as going hand in glove. Journalists’ suspicions of PRs have gone and now Martin sees huge opportunities with the added content being produced, for big name clients and brands. In addition to PR opportunities act, the show’s sponsorship is coming up for renewal, so if you represent a brand that might be a good fit with the programmes and some spare budget, get in touch!
Whilst This Morning doesn’t tend to cover many typical PR generated stories, there is an appetite from the programme for experts. It’s a small stable of professional spokespeople, covering a range of issues such as crime, parenting, relationships and more, but once accepted these experts become regular guests.
This blog was published earlier, but updated in February 2023.
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