A morning of virtual learning with the head of BBC’s The One Show

‘What does it take to land client coverage on The One Show?’

This is a question many PR pros – both new and seasoned – find themselves asking at some point in their quest to tell clients’ stories to the world. Some of the Scriba PR team previously hopped on Zoom to attend Broadcast Revolution’s virtual live session with head of The One Show, Rob Unsworth, to find out more.

Kicking off the conversation, Rob shared how he joined The One Show team just weeks before lockdown, in 2020, and the challenges this brought, before getting into the nitty-gritty and discussing the key principles for landing a slot on the daily programme.

As the show airs straight after the evening news, Rob explained that there’s a careful balance to strike between being topical but not simply more serious news – a hybrid of being current and entertaining, while at the same time factual and relating to current affairs across the whole country. So with this in mind, here are some points to check before you pitch in your story…

  1. Does it reflect national conversation?

    One thing Rob hammered home in his interview was that no matter the story you’re pitching, it has to be topical and relevant. He said that if you can answer, “why are we doing this today?”, and if it’s not something that could have been aired any day in the last six months, then it makes sense. If you can’t, then it likely isn’t right for the 3-3.5 million viewers who are tuning in.

  2. Is the story too niche?

    Rob talked about the viewing demographic for The One Show and explained how any topic they cover has to appeal to the broadest possible audience – it can’t be too specialist. He stressed that while it’s fine to take people to new places and introduce them to things they’ve never been aware of, it shouldn’t have limited appeal.

  3. Will it make families smile?

    Rob explained that The One Show is one of the few listings on TV that a spectrum of age ranges can watch and enjoy. Importantly, he outlined that The One Show exists to cheer people up, and the stories it covers aren’t likely to be depressing in nature. Similarly, it should reflect and be relatable to everyday things in our own lives, not just big political debates.

  4. Could you see it featuring in a newspaper?

    If you’re still wondering whether your story is something The One Show would be interested in, Rob said a good place to start is to ask yourself whether you could see it being featured in the press – and, importantly, what kind of news outlet? As a popular populist show, Rob explained that anything that would typically feature in the second section of a broadsheet wouldn’t be suitable. It has to, he said, ‘feel relevant to modern Britain’.

  5. Are you offering an exclusive?

    One crucial element which determines whether the programme will run your story or not is if it’s already been shown on other shows that day. Rob outlined the importance of not replicating what viewers have seen elsewhere. He also revealed that while shows are topical, it’s important to send any ideas as in advance as possible, and also to never to chase up whether your pitch has been received – as the team receives so many emails per day, they’ll be in touch if your story is of interest.

  6. Does it have ‘heart’?

    As well as being relevant and interesting, Rob mentioned it must have ‘heart’ and a ring of authenticity. The show doesn’t cover product launches, for example, as that’s too promotional, instead there should be an angle around the people involved within the story. He recapped that the news items it covers aren’t intended to help people sell things, but interest its viewers.

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Written by Amy Lloyd

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