Have you heard of diversity week? It sounds like an event at a trying-to-be politically correct student’s union, right? It’s actually the unofficial title for a period when the BBC records all kinds of factors about the spokespeople, guests and commentators they have on air – be it age, gender, ethnicity or even details about disabilities.
Obviously Auntie has to represent all the people in the UK, so this is the best way to measure whether the people they have on air are a fair reflection of Britain.
During my time at the Beeb, the constant refrain was to avoid stale, pale and male – i.e, try not to have an old white man on air when you could easily get someone else.
When you’re an overworked journalist with a deadline to meet, it’s hard to find new contacts and easy to turn to the same contributors that you and your editor know and trust. This is where PRs can actually help.
When you’re putting your campaign together, bear diversity in mind, and take it seriously. We’re all guilty of going for tried and tested spokespeople. However, I guarantee you’ve got more time to source a new voice than a journalist does – and the work will pay off.
If a story breaks and your client wants to have their opinions heard on the matter, having someone who’s not a posh old chap will make you stand out and give you a bigger chance of getting on air – so everybody wins.
So far, so obvious, right?
However, having a “diverse” spokesperson won’t automatically guarantee you coverage. Having a female spokesperson isn’t a reason to assume that Woman’s Hour will be instantly want to cover your campaign. We’ve had to explain this a worrying amount of times – as ever, your spokesperson should be appropriate to your campaign – and to the coverage you’re aiming at.
Work to shape your campaign to highlight the angles that affect as wide an audience as possible. Then select a spokesperson that can bring those angles to life – both as an expert and through their personal experience.
If you’re at a loss, give us a call – we’d be happy to help with suggestions and insight into what broadcasters are really looking for.