Stephanie McGovern, Business Presenter of BBC Breakfast and Chair of the International Content Marketing Summit 2012, on what makes an engaging story first thing in the morning.

What’s your average day like?
I get up at about half-three in the morning. If I’m on a broadcast out and about, then I’ll do the hair and make-up thing, go to wherever the location is, before being on air from 6am. If I’m in the studio, I’ll write my scripts then, again, be on air from six. I do headlines at the top of every hour, then hits at 20 past the hour and ten to the hour. After the show we’ll have a debrief, then I’ll chat to my producers about what we'll be doing the next day. Later, in the evening, I’ll go through my briefs and scripts for the next day and be in bed by 9.30.

How do you gather your stories and background?
We have a diary created by the central news-gatherers for the BBC. So we’ll always have employment figures out on the same day every month, or inflation or interest rates. But other announcements or press releases are also in the diary. For example, tomorrow is Super Thursday, when all the Christmas books are launched, so we’re thinking about doing a broadcast about the book industry from a distribution centre or a bookshop. Then we’ll source a couple of guests and find a good interview location. Who we speak to is really important, because people tend to turn off if they just see a middle aged man in a suit. We have to put him in an interesting backdrop and include someone who illustrates the story the man is telling.

How does social media impact on your job?
Hugely. I’m a prolific tweeter and use it in my work. So if, say, I’m interviewing the boss of Tesco on the show tomorrow, I’ll send out a tweet and loads of people will normally tweet me questions back. You can also get themes from Twitter. So if a lot of people message me saying something like ‘Milk suppliers are getting a raw deal,’ I can look into that and a story may come out of it. There’s also been a couple of times where I’ve ended up at a certain business because people have tweeted me saying they are a good example of a company that’s, say, exporting at the moment.

What are the elements that make a compelling story for you to cover?
It’s something that the audience can relate to, while telling them something that they don’t already know. It’s having that relevance but also making sure it isn’t just the commentator talking. You also want a person who the audience can look at and think ‘That could be me’ or ‘That could be my child’. So it’s about simplifying the story, making it relevant, making it interesting, and not being too negative.

How important are the creative industries to the UK economy?
Incredibly important. In times of trouble, you have to create your way out. There’s been a lot of focus in the past on manufacturing, but because it’s easier and cheaper to train people in the developing countries to make products for us, our strength has been in design. So the creative industries have really
helped us keep going.

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Posted in CMA blog
6thNov 2012

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