Earlier today, some of the Chief PR team attended an event hosted by Gorkana at the Barbican in London, to listen to the new Editor at 5 News, Rachel Corp and her team talk about what they are looking for in their programming  schedules and how the PR community can help.

5 News is produced by ITN and its main daily broadcasts are aired at 5pm and 6.30pm. Its weekly audience figures are 5.2m for viewers tuning in to 5 News at 5 (hosted by Sian Williams) and 6 News Tonight (hosted by Matt Barbet). It has a  roughly a 60/40 split with more females watching than male, the majority of which live outside of London and the South East. Viewers are typically not ‘news junkies’, but they want to be informed.

In a world of fast moving 24/7 news, 5 News focuses on doing things right rather than having to be first. It sees itself ‘competing’ with more magazine style programmes such as Lorraine, Good Morning Britain, Derbyshire, This Morning and The Mail Online. In addition, to its television output 5 News also has an innovative digital team, focusing on Facebook as the main outlet for its digital content. In part, to engage with younger audiences that do not consume their news from the television.

So how can organisations get involved with 5 News?

Each morning at 08.30am the news team get together for an editorial meeting to plan stories for the day. However, news agendas can change rapidly and a whole day’s planning can be dropped if a more important story breaks. When choosing stories to cover, the 5News team isn’t afraid to lead on its own content, or follow a different news agenda to the other main stream news broadcasters. For example, while other news broadcasters ran the BREXIT talks as their main story yesterday, the 5News team lead with breaking news in Tunisia.

At the heart of 5News stories is a focus on making its audience ‘feel something ‘, covering the daily lives, experiences, challenges and achievements of ‘ordinary’ people. They want to hear about health and social issues, as well as individuals with an extraordinary story to share. The team, doesn’t have permanent overseas correspondents but it does have an absolute commitment to covering news from overseas, but ideally it will have a British angle or be relatable to viewers. They are also interested in providing its audience with lighter news items.

When it comes to advice for the PR community the key is timing and exclusivity and in most cases the first port of call is the Forward Planning Desk and the Assistant News Editor. In comparison to the BBC the 5 News team is small, so calling the newsdesk is unlikely to get you very far, unless you have something significant. 

As for timing, the advice is as early as possible (a week in advance is ideal for press releases), as it gives the team time to plan how they will tackle the story, arrange interviews, or do something more in-depth. Regarding exclusivity, if you pitch a story as an exclusive and it is good they will champion it.

If you have other content, such as pre-recorded ‘B-Roll’ footage then they will sometimes use it, but only if it represents something they could not go out and capture themselves. They will never take pre-recorded interviews. Similarly, they have their own talented graphics team, so no need to get creative.

Also, be sure to have interviewees lined up as availability is a question you can bank on them asking. It is also useful to be aware that the team likes to celebrate diversity on-camera, whether through age, sex, ethnicity, or viewpoint.

Finally, the team stated what may seem obvious but it is always worth repeating. If you are going to pitch to get involved with 5 News be sure to have watched the programme before, so that you can determine whether the story you have is relevant and right for the audience!

Once again, a big thank you to the Gorkana team for hosting such a fantastic event and we look forward to the next one.