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CBF Event Review: Jamie Owen & Tony O'Shaughnessy

BBC Presenter Jamie Owen and Producer Tony O’Shaughnessy, addressed Caerphilly Business Forum last night with a masterclass in media management. Speaking at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw Campus, the pair spoke to a rapt audience of Welsh business specialists, ranging from leading recruiters, to ex-hacks.

In opening, Mr Owen began with how a journalist leads in to a story, using the “Joining me now is…” method. Describing it as a 20 second introduction, he and Tony helped demonstrate key examples of what to say, what not to say, and importantly, why we introduce ourselves at all.

One of the many comments received by the BBC, they explained, revolve around the stories they don’t cover. In choosing a story to run with, Owen revealed the three key aspects to meet for news journalism. Firstly, is the story itself newsworthy? Next, they look at the audience – whether the piece has national or local appeal. Lastly, they look at logistics. Simply put, whether it is actually possible to get the story.

One example given was around the Church of Wales. The Archbishop at the time was giving a speech on the future of the Church in Wales – a story that met all three of these criteria. Later, it was found that the speech in fact took place three days prior. What would have been a meaty think-piece, the pair confirmed, was relegated to a 20 second clip. Owen confirmed, images are key. Stories with video will often supersede ones without.

On briefing the audience as to what specifically makes up a story, and confirming the motivations of the journalists in chasing them (Novelty, Impact, Scale, Elite, Deviation and Proximity), he moved on to what business owners need to know about the process. The news, Owen explained, has changed significantly from its golden age. While the role of receiving and disseminating the news was indeed unchanged, how audiences consume it has shifted seismically. He confirmed that the BBC app, not Facebook, was the most popular way for audiences to view news.

The media cycle has changed; prudently demonstrated by United Airlines. Tony and Jamie explored this topic, concluding that the PR disaster was, in fact, the fault of their own false internal messaging. Their reaction, Jamie confirmed, was likely the result of a PR still living in the golden age. He stated: “You can no longer manage a digital news cycle in an analogue format”.

On interacting with journalists in the modern world of media, they explained, preparing ‘messaging’ beforehand is essential. Referring to the 5Ws, geography questions to explore the basics of the story, Tony noted two further aspects – ‘how much’ and ‘what next’. He confirmed that preparing talking points on each of these is essential when speaking with the

In closing, the pair noted that despite best intentions, a PR disaster can and likely will happen. With smartphones in almost every pocket, the vast majority of people have access to cameras, editing suites, and the means to broadcast content. What will be essential, they confirmed, is preparing for negative press in advance, and working on controlling the message in this new era of media.

Huge thanks to all who attended, and to Jamie and Tony in particular for addressing the forum. Our next event is taking place on Tuesday 3rd October, when Lynda Campbell, one of Wales’ foremost authorities on customer service, will address the Forum’s Breakfast Seminar. Click here for further details.