MEDIA ANALYSIS: The one to beat in the ratings war

The One Show might have a fluffy exterior but it is a serious option for PROs, finds Matt Cartmell.

Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley
Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley

Despite mixed early responses, The One Show now seems to have earned its stripes as BBC1's flagship magazine show - it recently announced ratings of 5.7 million, making it the most watched daily programme on any UK channel.

The daily early evening show fron­ted by everyman Adrian Chiles and the more photogenic Christine Bleakley has been rising through the ratings since its launch in 2006.

There is a 50-strong production team in London that brainstorms ideas on a daily basis for the live element of the 30-minute show. Added to this is a current affairs team in Manchester providing three five-minute reports each week and a consumer team in Cardiff providing two.

Fierce competition
A five-minute slot on the show can spell ‘jackpot' to a lucky consumer PRO. ‘It's incredibly competitive,' warns Jeans for Genes head of comms Rosalind Freeborn, who sold into the show for last Oct­ober's Jeans for Genes Day. Freeborn pitched a visual-led story about ‘denimising' iconic statues around the UK but it didn't make it on to the screen.

Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley‘You got the feeling the researcher thought it would be a lot of fun, but it was a busy week,' says Freeborn. ‘Maybe a celebrity in the studio would have been better, but the idea of regionality appealed.'

Freeborn advises PR people to go to the show with a selection of pitch ideas for the same client - perhaps an exclusive, something visually app­ealing, and if possible an interview with a celebrity.

Many winning pitches have proven to be personality-led ideas, and exclusives are often the key to success.

Glasgow-based 3x1 Public Relations gained a slot for The National Fish & Chip Shop of the Year Competition by offering an exclusive interview with the winners. The programme sent an outside broadcast truck from London to the Townhead Café in Biggar, Scotland.

Trimedia recently gained a five-minute slot on the show to promote WRAP's (Waste and Resources Act­ion Programme) Love Food Hate Waste campaign, drawing attention to the amount of food people throw away.

Trimedia associate director Sarah Bentley pitched interviews with WRAP celebrity ambassadors Marco Pierre White and Ainsley Harriott.

Surprisingly, the researchers opted ins­tead for an interview with nonagenar­ian chef Marguerite Patton - reflective of the older people that make up a significant part of the show's audience.

Bentley advises PROs to furnish the show's researchers with background information to bring the story to life. ‘It's the talkability factor,' says Bentley.

Open doors
One benefit of dealing with the show is that it opens other doors in the BBC. Since pitching ideas for nature reserve Butterfly World, Edinburgh-based Trimedia consultant Hannah Murray has been passed on to the BBC natural hist­ory unit's forward planning department.

But there is a darker side to The One Show's fluffy exterior. Transform Surgery Group PR manager Shami Choudhry was contacted by the show's researchers, who were scouting for a case study of a Botox customer.

Choudhry then discovered that the show was running the story as a mystery shopper exposé. A 25-year-old woman was visiting plastic surgery clinics around the country to see if they were asking the right questions before giving her the needle. ‘We're happy to have mystery shoppers,' says Choudhry. ‘But the piece was a joke. She went to eight clinics and they all said yes.

But she actually needed Botox! It trivialised what could have been a serious piece.'
College Hill head of corporate and B2B Terence Gibbons recounts his best experience of selling into the show: ‘I was amazed when pitching one story that when I called, the phone in the production office was answered by Adrian Chiles! Good show, though I think it needs to be a tad easier for PROs to pitch relevant stories.'

QUICK FACTS
-- Timing 7-7.30pm, Monday to Friday
-- Ratings 5.7 million at its peak
-- Deadlines As a live show, the team reacts to news stories on the day they happen. The features are often filmed months in advance. Pitch feature ideas up to a month in advance.
-- Contact Forward planning producer Claire Megahey at oneshow-forwardplanning@bbc.co.uk

Two minutes with the executive producer
Tessa Finch, executive producer, The One Show

At whom is The One Show targeted?
The show is on at 7pm on BBC1 so it has to appeal to people of all ages and all types, all over the country. We receive hundreds of messages from viewers after each night's show and our regular viewers include children, students, young professionals, families and retired people.

Unlike other daytime magazine shows that rely on lifestyle and pop psychology, we prefer to focus on factual content - science, arts, history and wildlife for example. You won't find fashion, cookery, victim journalism or psychobabble.

What annoys you about PR people?
We get frustrated by PROs who assume we'll be happy to run a story or feature a guest after they've appeared on another daytime magazine show - we won't.

What have been your best experiences of dealing with PROs?
The best PROs understand that The One Show is not a straight chat show - our guests stay with us for the whole half hour and get involved with all aspects of the nightly running order.

It's a terrific - and all too rare - opportunity for celebrities to show that they are three-dimensional people with a range of interests, views and passions.

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