MEDIA ANALYSIS: Kilroy successor to take on Trisha

The daytime chat show stakes are hotting up as the BBC prepares to replace the axed Kilroy with Now You're Talking! and take on ITV's Trisha. Dan Bloch analyses the opportunities these programmes hold for PROs

Last week, the BBC announced details of its new daytime talk show, Now You're Talking!, which replaces Kilroy every weekday morning from 15 March. Kilroy had on average 1.2 million audience per show last year, just shy of ITV arch-rival Trisha's 1.3 million, according to the British Audience Research Board (Barb).

Now You're Talking! executive editor Paul Woolwich hopes its line-up of ex-EastEnders actress Nadia Sawalha, Nicky Campbell, and BBC Breakfast presenter Sian Williams will woo some of Trisha's audience with a combination of Sawalha's appeal to younger people and Campbell's and Williams's 'solid insight and journalistic experience'.

Daytime issues suit PROs

Daytime shows are well suited to PROs handling issues, says Geronimo PR managing director Karen Harris, whose clients include the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions. Geronimo has placed spokespeople as guests and members of the public in Trisha's and Kilroy's audiences.

'They deal with topics in a way that's conducive to parents taking these issues on board. It's about discussion, so they almost don't realise they are learning,' says Harris.

She recommends tracking the issues they cover, building close ties with researchers, and keeping a close eye on the tabloids, as well as trying to influence the often fluid choice of issues. 'It's about making sure that when a relevant issue comes up, they know who to call because they are under time pressure,' she says.

Strawberry PR has also indirectly succeeded in placing products on Kilroy, through celebrity personal trainer Matt Roberts. He went on Kilroy last year to talk about whether the Atkins diet was safe, but it also worked as a branding exercise, says Strawberry PR director Bryony Johnson, since it built trust in Roberts' range of supplements and nutrition books.

Johnson's advice to PROs is to maintain a sharp awareness of current affairs and to understand each programme's content very clearly. 'PROs must be involved at every level of production so you don't walk into any pitfalls. You don't want to be in a live debate on Atkins and find everyone else is pro and you are the only one against,' he adds.

NOW YOU'RE TALKING!

Paul Woolwich, BBC executive editor

What changes have you made to the Kilroy format?

'Editorially, we'll sharpen it up. It runs for half an hour whereas Kilroy ran for an hour. We'll still do "my neighbour ran away with next door's wife" stories, but not lowest common denominator stuff. We'll introduce a bit more topicality.'

Who is the audience?

'Kilroy's audience was skewed towards women in the north aged over 35. Presenter Nadia Sawalha has a lot of life experience for her age. I saw her doing a pilot and her rapport with the audience was brilliant. I think she'll bring in a younger demographic.'

How is the show's subject matter planned?

'Most programmes will be pre-recorded, but we also want to do some of them live to allow for flexibility. On 24 March, the BBC is doing 'Your NHS Day'. Now You're Talking! will do something health related then. But I'm not Mystic Meg. We'll try to react as quickly as possible to big subjects that matter.'

How can PROs use the show?

'If they, say, have a report that affects everyday lives or popular culture, and can make experts available, I'm not averse to those kinds of ideas.'

What wouldn't work?

'Plugging a show, book or record - anything promoted for no other reason than publicity.'

What's the best way to get your attention?

'Have a clear understanding of the audience at that time, and realise I'm no sucker.'

TRISHA

Zoe McIntyre Granada head of media relations

Who watches and why?

'It's about 35 per cent of the daytime viewing audience, female skewed. A lot of them have taken the children to school and want to put their feet up.'

What makes it different?

'It's social issue led. It's not like a celebrity show. Trisha gives everyone a share of voice. It takes on the issues that matter - deep personal problems within families, things people can identify with.' How do you decide who or what goes on the show?

'Certain subjects are more popular - for example paternity tests. So once things are tried and tested, get interest and people want to watch more, the production team plans ahead to incorporate them. Most subjects are planned three months ahead. There's no huge flexibility to react to news. It's not Kilroy.'

What opportunities are there for PROs to target the audience?

'There's no product placement at all. In terms of issues, the only times we may ever have involved PROs is if we need someone to come from a hospital as an expert. But that's not very often.'

How should PROs approach you and when?

'Suggestions for issues tend to come from members of the public. One agency said they had placed people in the audience. It's a free show. Anyone can come on, but we don't want to encourage agencies to do that because the issues have to be genuinely of concern rather than those somebody is thinking should be of concern.'

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