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Chiyo Robertson, BBC World News TV – Small Talk

Our latest Shout! Communications Small Talk featured  Chiyo Robertson, Editor of BBC World News TV Business Programming. It was an absolute fascinating insight into the BBC’s Business & Economics Department and the way it deals with international news.

Chiyo is in charge of business shows on the global channel BBC World News. She has a wealth of international experience as an editor, producer, and reporter in the BBC’s Asia bureau in Singapore, and has also produced BBC economics editors Robert Peston and Kamal Ahmed.

Chiyo has been lead producer for key live events including the World Economic Forum in Davos, Brexit vote, German elections and World Bank/IMF meetings in Washington. Prior to the BBC, she was a producer and reporter at Sky News, and a freelance TV and print journalist, so she comes with a mighty CV.

With 15 years’ experience solely within the BBC, she credits her longevity in the organisation down to the fact that she has moved around departments, mainly within global and international news.  This means she brings with her an expertise and insight into what can and can’t work in terms of coverage.

Our audience, however, was most interested in hearing about the opportunities that might be available for PR generated stories.  The good news is that there are several programmes receptive to them – coverage that reaches huge numbers of people.

The main slots, Chiyo says,  include:

  • the 05:30am Business Briefing, which goes out on BBC One just before BBC Breakfast. It is a good round up of the day’s early morning business stories and has a core business audience.
  • next is Business Live on the BBC News Channel at 08:30am. This is a much more UK focused show, so good if your story is slightly more geared to the UK market, but still relevant globally.
  • After that is World Business Report at 11:30am; a wrap up of the morning’s world business stories, often with scope for guests, and regularly down the line, either from Salford or other BBC studios.
  • GMT is another opportunity, especially for tech and US focused clients, as it is much more punter friendly.
  • Talking Business is the show most suited to guests, presented by the enigmatic and slightly off-the-wall Aaron Heslehurst – Chiyo described viewers’ reactions to his presenting as ‘marmite’, meaning you love him or hate him. Either way, it’s  a great slot for guests as it is much more focused for the man in the street, so doesn’t contain so much jargon and hard business stories.

Chiyo was at pains to stress that whilst the BBC Business and Economics Unit is the largest specialist unit within the BBC (this may shock sports fans), the current climate that we live in has generated the ideological view that politics has merged with economics. The political landscape very much dictates the business world, so now business stories are political stories and political stories are business stories in turn – whilst also incorporating transport and tech!

This has an impact on how you pitch your guests. Nowadays, planners and editors alike need to know the political stance of your guest, as this will dictate how they are placed in the show. Due to strict BBC regulatory guidelines and Ofcom rules, every viewpoint must have a voice, so make sure your spokespeople have an opinion, and can back it up!

It is worth keeping an eye on the broadcast landscape and watching the output as you can get a sense of the shows and know where you can best see your client fitting on air. The quality of the guest you can offer could mean that they have better chance of being re-booked.

Like many of her colleagues in news, Chiyo and her department are increasingly focused towards entertainment, so celebs in the business world and stories that show showbiz in the business world are likely to get their attention. The ever-increasing fight for gender equality in the media and the gender pay gap in the business world means there is always an appetite for female guests, and women in business, so this should always be a consideration when pitching.

Chiyo spoke at a Shout! Communications Small Talk – if you’d be interested in attending one of our broadcast PR events, make sure to sign up to our mailing list here:

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