Working Lunch ready for revamp

It is all change at the BBC's lunchtime institution Working Lunch, with two new presenters lined up to replace the outgoing Adam Shaw. When Shaw moves to BBC Breakfast in the autumn, affable morning favourite Declan Curry will take the helm, alongside Bloomberg senior presenter Naga Munchetty, whom the Beeb poached to co-present.

BBC Television Studios: Working Lunch is embarking on a rebrand
BBC Television Studios: Working Lunch is embarking on a rebrand

BBC economics and business editor Jeremy Hillman describes the new presenters as a 'formidable pairing'. 'They both have exactly the combination of business expertise and irreverence that Working Lunch is known for,' he said.

Working Lunch is undergoing a full rebrand, with new titles, a revamped set and a different way of reaching out to its audience in the worlds of business and finance.

'Working Lunch has always known that covering people's money and how they manage it doesn't have be like watching paint dry,' says Hillman, who is behind the overhaul. 'I do not want to give away too much about the multimedia plans but they involve a blog and an opportunity for the audience to help shape the editorial agenda.'

PR professionals wonder whether the overhaul will be enough to attract such a busy, deskbound audience to a programme that airs at 12.30pm, when they may be lunching with clients and unlikely to be parked in front of the TV.

As it is, the show attracts around 400,000 viewers each day, compared with BBC Breakfast's 12 million viewers in the average week.

Fourth Day PR co-founder Xanthe Vaughan Williams warns that despite fewer viewers, Working Lunch should not be discounted by PROs.

She pitched a story on the history of barcodes to outgoing presenter Adam Shaw on behalf of data client GS1UK. 'Adam was very receptive, even inviting me for a tour round the BBC,' she says. 'The show is a great outlet- it is purely news so it must be very topical.'

Vaughan Williams says the main problem for PROs is the time constraint. 'They do the agenda in the morning, for a 12.30pm show,' she says. 'You would have to have your spokesperson ready to jump in a cab.'

Hogarth Partnership director Fiona Noblet agrees that Working Lunch is a good target for corporate PROs, adding that bigger brand names will be more likely to feature on the programme. 'We did Working Lunch when our client Carluccio's floated,' she says, 'We also did it for Domino's. If it is an interesting consumer brand, it makes for better TV.'

She adds that the 12.30pm slot should not discourage PROs. 'When I worked in a press office, there was a bank of TV screens in the newsroom,' she says. 'In big corporates, Working Lunch is on in the background.'

QUICK FACTS
Frequency: Weekdays
Audience: 400,000
Contact
BBC economics and business editor
Jeremy Hillman; 020 8624 9099; jeremy.hillman@bbc.co.uk

A MINUTE WITH... Jeremy Hillman, editor, BBC economics and business

What makes Working Lunch different from other BBC offerings?

It is the only daily programme on network television focusing exclusively on business and finance news. Its point of view is irreverent, humorous and inquisitive but its bedrock is its real credibility in covering sometimes complex and difficult areas with expertise, but in an accessible way. Our presenters and correspondents are all long-standing business journalists, and the audience knows it can trust them to ask the right questions and get the story right every time.

Are you open to PR pitches?

We are happy to hear from PR professionals if they have got a story to tell us that really impacts on the financial or consumer lives of our audience. But we're not there to puff products.

Can we expect more online interaction with the programme relaunch?

The audience has always been incredibly active and vocal and we plan to make full use of that in the new format.

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