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Small Talk with Sky News Ian King Live Programme


The latest speaker, in our ongoing series of Small Talks, was Scott Beasley.  Scott has just moved from Ian King Live where he was Assistant Editor, to producing Sophy Ridge on Sunday.  This is a summing up of what he said, as heard by Shout! Communications broadcast consultant, Carl Hughes.

Political punch with Sophy Ridge on Sunday

When it comes to knowing what it takes to land broadcast PR coverage on TV news, Scott Beasley is your man. He currently runs Sky News’ Sunday morning show, Sophy Ridge on Sunday.  He describes it as Sky News’ equivalent of the Andrew Marr show on BBC One.   The show, he explains, constantly punches above its weight and receives a huge amount of interest from other broadcasters due to their high-profile political interviews.

Flagship business programme, Ian King Live

Prior to this, Scott ran Ian King Live, Sky News’ flagship business programme. He was instrumental in raising the awareness and popularity of the show, taking it from half an hour in length, 4 days a week, to an hour per day Monday to Friday. It now showcases the biggest names in business, from FTSE 100 Chief Executives and leading entrepreneurs, to economists and market guests. Scott deals with a lot of PR people and with an average of 8 press releases received per minute, he has his work cut out.

How has life at Sky News changed since Scott joined?

There is no escaping the fact the global Coronavirus pandemic has changed many walks of life, not least the world of business news. Historically business news has had to fight its way on to the running order.  But during the pandemic, business issues featured centre stage.  With whole industries being put at risk and thousands of people losing their jobs, this created new audiences for shows like Ian King Live.

The Covid effect

The pandemic has proved audiences still rely on television to deliver the stories that matter to them.  But this hasn’t stopped the ongoing shift from linear TV.   As audiences now consume stories in a variety of ways, there is a big focus on creating content for the wider organisation across platforms such as social media, mobile and podcasts.  This means resources for TV news are more stretched than ever before.  For example, the production team behind a show such as Sophy Ridge on Sunday can sometimes comprise of just 2 people.

What makes the perfect Ian King Live guest?

Despite more pressure on smaller teams, producers still love guests. For Ian King Live, the show has an average of 10 guests per hour. They will always lead with the biggest business news of the day and talk to the biggest CEO’s. The end of the show is reserved for more quirky business stories and less hard-hitting news.  It’s all about light and shade.  This is great news for broadcast PR stories because it means a broad range of stories get featured.   It’s all about the visuals

However, Scott’s biggest piece of advice is to always ask “how does this work for television?” It seems obvious, but television is all about pictures.  That means if you are offering a great guest, they need to be in a great location. The owner of a factory stood next to the production line or the CEO of an airline in the cockpit of a plane is guaranteed to pique interest. The last thing Sky News want is someone doing a Zoom interview, in their bedroom, sat in front of a blank wall.  This adds nothing to the story.

The value of B-roll

Likewise, stories with B-Roll are also more likely to get considered for airtime than a simple press release and guest offer. Remember, resources are stretched, and production teams may not have the time or resources to film themselves. By doing the work for them, you are taking away one more hurdle to getting featured.  Here at Shout! Communications we can produce B-Roll footage that will get used for your broadcast PR campaign.

Are Broadcast PR Zoom interviews here to stay?

Although Scott would like to think that in the coming months more and more interviews will resume in person, he feels remote interviews, such as the ones we deliver with our pop-up and remote radio days, will likely continue. Sky still has a rule whereby only Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet members are allowed into the studio, but when restrictions are lifted, there is no denying that Zoom interviews are very cheap to conduct. With the ongoing pressure on money and personnel, this will be seen as an ongoing benefit as opposed to a hinderance.

The benefit of Zoom interviews

Zoom interviews give broadcasters access to bigger guests more quickly than the time it would take to get them into a studio in London.  It also means they can set up and drop guests with little notice. However, Scott says broadcast PR teams need to get creative to stand out from the crowd.  The more interesting and engaging your spokesperson and location is, the more likely you are to be considered for the show.  You might also have your interview clipped up for further coverage on social media. In this sense, Zoom really has put control back in the hands of PR teams.

Interested in securing coverage for your brand or clients, on national TV?

We’re a team of broadcast PR professionals with many years experience working in national radio and TV.  We think like the broadcast producers we used to be. We know what broadcasters want, and more importantly, what they don’t want. To learn more about how we can help you with radio and TV media relations, contact us today.





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