When the BBC phones you up to ask your opinion it is hard to say ‘no’.
The UK’s public service broadcaster is arguably the world’s most respected news broadcaster. It gives you the truth and delivers information without sensationalism.
Or does it?
The call came when I was deputy editor of a highly-regarded yachting magazine. A brave woman (Ellen MacArthur) had just sailed around the world, alone and without stopping. She’s smashed the previous record.
BBC Radio 5 Live wanted me to discuss the achievement. I said I’d be happy to and headed over to the studio. I was settled in the ‘green room’ and offered a drink. It was only as I was being shown into the studio that I was introduced to another guest who would also be discussing Ellen’s achievements.
It soon became clear that this was not to be an informative discussion but an argument. Everything I said was dismissed by this other guest. The presenter posed questions that put us in opposition. There was no exploring of the facts, no appraisal of the achievements. It was set up as a clash of opposite opinions, and so it was.
After the show I shared a taxi home with the other guest who immediately apologised. “Sorry about that – they get me in as a ‘rent-a-gob’. I just have to disagree with everything to make the show more lively.”
I’ve been reminded of this approach by the Brexit discussions taking place in the UK. The standard way the media reports on the situation is by placing opponents face to face and letting them disagree with one another. Plenty of information (content) is provided by both sides, but none of it is measured, objective or reliable. None of it gives the British public what they need to decide on their country’s future.
This creates a content vacuum. The right business with suitable marketing objectives could fill that vacuum to great effect. They’d build trust. They’d drive traffic and awareness.
Such requirements for objective content will become more common as media companies are owned by an diminishing number of increasingly partisan proprietors. These traditional media giants will use evermore tabloid tactics to win readers’ attention as they fight for market share. Objective news content will become a rare commodity.
So, keep an eye out for the next big news story – there may be a content vacuum that your brand could fill.