Media: Boulton & Co in for the long haul

Last week, Sky News' political editor Adam Boulton's blog was expanded into a weekday lunchtime TV programme to much fanfare.

Boulton & Co blog has become a TV show: Sarah Hughes and Adam Boulton
Boulton & Co blog has become a TV show: Sarah Hughes and Adam Boulton

Boulton, alongside royal correspondent Sarah Hughes, now presents the 1-2pm slot that focuses on longer interviews and debate on the top stories of the day.

For PROs with big-name clients who are opinionated, articulate and want wide exposure, a new stage has been unveiled: Boulton & Co.

Executive producer John McAndrew says the show will not be as politically focused as the blog, which carries the strapline 'Westminster gossip, scandal and intrigue'.

Instead, it will focus on interviews with news-makers on big issues and will attempt to break more news on the big stories of the day. Hughes links together analysis from correspondents both in the newsroom and on location.

McAndrew says the show was launched to fill a gap. 'We get all the people we want to hear from on the channel already, but we sometimes lack the space to dedicate a serious chunk of time to an interview,' he says.

The main opportunity for PR professionals lies in providing articulate speakers.

'What you want when a big story hits is good people who fight their corner against someone of an opposing view. We want guests who are combative, good on TV and who give an opinion,' requests McAndrew.

'Your client needs to be articulate and swift on their feet,' agrees Seven Hills co-founder Michael Hayman: 'Make sure clients are aware that Sky News has an element of entertainment and a showbiz-type approach to the presentation of news. It's not a dry format; there's a lot of movement in it.'

Expanding the blog into a TV show has not gained universal approval.

Tim Fallon, Hill & Knowlton MD, corporate and international affairs, says: 'While the Boulton & Co blog is clearly a mainstream source, I am not certain its format changes for the better by being transported to television.

'One of the main attractions of political blogs is their immediacy and accessibility. I am not sure a daily hourlong slot formatted for TV maintains these qualities.'

But McAndrew says the channel is still committed to the original blog format: 'This is very much Adam's blog going on TV, not the other way round. He may finish doing an interview and when it passes to Sarah, he might post his thoughts on the interview. This is a multimedia operation.'

Indeed, another opportunity for PROs is the HD side panels that will go alongside the show.

'These will include background briefings, live story and Twitter updates from social media correspondents. We are also going to experiment with soliciting votes on contentious issues,' says McAndrew.

A MINUTE WITH ... JOHN MCANDREW, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, BOULTON & CO

Why are you putting Boulton & Co on TV?

We like to freshen the schedule every now and then. We have a new state-of-the-art studio and a top interviewer in Adam Boulton. He is one of the reasons people watch Sky News. This gives us a chance to do some longer-form interviews with big news-making voices.

Where will the focus lie?

This is not Adam's Sunday show transposed to a weekly show. Dermot Murnaghan has taken over that slot. The ideal stories for Sky are big, hearty and impactful. We concentrate on breaking stories on the big issues.

How does Sky News differ from its rivals?

We are quicker than our competitors. When the big stuff happens, people turn to Sky News.

Outline the opportunities for PROs

None if you have a book to launch, regardless of how well-known the writer is. Be quick and reactive. If something is breaking, we want good voices to move the story along. Any email that starts 'we see you're doing a lot on the rise in petrol prices, and we have a good person to talk to on that issue', is going to get a lot further.

How will the programme be structured?

We do not stick to our running order. If something better comes along, it will go on at the expense of something else.

QUICK FACTS

Programme times: Mondays to Fridays, 1-2pm

Channels: Sky News HD; Sky Channel 517

Viewers: Average weekly reach figure for Sky News for fiscal year to date is 5.9 million (source: BARB/TNS)

Contact: Guest producer; 020 7032 0427.

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