Since it was formed in 1922 the British Broadcasting Corporation (also known as the BBC or Beeb) has significantly changed the way it reports on news. The station, which originally started as a radio broadcaster, now runs two 24 hour news channels, has an app dedicated to breaking news and utilises social media to reach a younger demographic.
But it isn’t only the way it delivers content that has changed, what it has produced has also evolved. If you were to go on the BBC website 10 years ago it would have been dominated by hard hitting breaking news from around the world, yet these days they have followed the likes of BuzzFeed and Huffington Post and are creating lifestyle listicles and celebrity quizzes.
Last month, the PR team at HROC were lucky enough to attend a media briefing with three of the channels’ senior producers to hear insight on the station’s evolution and how it is reporting on news.
The change in the content published has been a result of a transformation in the way the station seeks out stories.
The BBC has come to realise that they need to look at generating stories from a more diverse background. Specifically they now have brainstorm sessions with younger members of staff in the hope that this will generate new ideas relatable to all ages and demographics.
The BBC has also honed the way it engages with local communities. Its own regional stations are more important than ever before as they have connections with the area and have insight into stories that might quickly grow from regional to national interest.
It’s getting personal
People are more interested in human interest stories than ever before.
Social media means that sharing personal stories and commenting on other people’s life events is the norm. As such, people are keen to see news stories that relate to them and their friends so the material published by the Beeb now has to be something people have an affiliation to.
On the BBC’s Instagram feed the content was previously a range of hard-hitting videos, but now the focus is on creating a more mixed content offering.
Since February 2017, the BBC News Instagram site has run a quiz using Instagram Stories each Friday, in which users answer a true or false question about the week’s news with the goal to simply to get more people engaged with the news. The station wants to use social media platforms to gather feedback and comments from audiences that the BBC News journalists can use in their reports.
The big issues
The topics people are interested in aren’t always the ones you expect.
The recent series of Blue Planet pushed the plastics and pollution debate into a wider audience, making it a hot topic. No one could have predicted how much interest there would be in this, but the BBC responded by investigating the issue further and publishing relevant stories.
The BBC won’t be alone in making these changes, as every news outlet has to look at how they produce content. For PR consultants, the adaptions will mean we have to change how we liaise with journalists, making sure that when we sell-in a story we think about reliability, audience interaction and social media interest.
However the team at the BBC were keen to reassure the audience that “the press release isn’t dead, it just needs to be relevant.”
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