THE BIG QUESTION: Would you advise against featuring in a fly-on- the-wall documentary? - Reality TV - most recently the BBC's programme Back to the Floor - has a habit of making its subject matter look less professional than they might desire

Bronwyn Gold Blyth

Bronwyn Gold Blyth

BGB & Associates

'British TV documentaries are mostly independent, thank heavens. They are not made to curry corporate favour or massage egos. So if a company, or an agency, is naive enough to enter into a fly-on-the-wall programme believing that TV is fuelled by altruism or, worse, that PR can 'control' it, they are bound to be disappointed. Fly-on-the-wall programmes have damaged more reputations than they have enhanced, particularly in travel. Producers are in the business of creating entertainment, not free, primetime puff; programme controllers are interested in the highest possible ratings for the lowest possible outlay. Up to now that's what fly-on-the-wall has delivered, though the format is beginning to look tired and TV fashion is moving on - another reason, perhaps , to fight shy.'

Sonia Davies

Thomson Holidays

'We have no blanket rule about documentaries. We will consider taking part in a film where we have confidence in the makers and the film supports Thomson values. It is important to mention that we only do programmes where our staff's work, rather than their personalities, is the subject of the film. It is not reasonable to turn hardworking holiday reps into stars, with all the intrusion that this can cause. That said, however, our staff have such big personalities that they often come through as stars! We have supported Passport to the Sun in Majorca for two years now and are delighted with the results.'

Nigel Jenkins

Unijet Group

'It very much depends where your company is positioned in terms of brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Former joint MD Terry Brown was an ideal subject for the Back to the Floor programme, as having worked overseas in his early career he could understand and present a realistic image of a tour operator's overseas operations. We knew that some aspects of our company could be put under the microscope but this would help us to recognise any areas for improvement. I would encourage well- run businesses to allow TV cameras in, but they must also understand the investment in time that is needed. It is important to maintain an open and honest dialogue with the production team in order to maximise the value of this type of TV exposure.'

Gavin Grant


'These programmes probably work best as docu-soaps for charities or for organisations where there is a lot going on externally, like the police or airports. But for bigger, corporate clients the downsides are potentially massive because often the company, their issues and their leaders become the drama (as Jennie Page at the Millennium Dome and the unfortunates at the Royal Opera House will testify). Such shows should never be seen as free publicity promoting a company or its CEO. I would advise a major corporate client to think very carefully before they say yes to the uncontrolled environment that creates this kind of exposure.'

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