Okay, so this isn’t PR and comms exactly…
But a special case for the BBC Brexitcast podcast needs to be made on the theme of looking to communicate with a human voice.
What is Brexitcast?
The idea is simple. BBC journalists put together an occasional – and more recently daily – podcast to summarise what is happening with Brexit and give intelligent informal analysis.
What you get are BBC journalists you may see for 45-seconds on the BBC News at Ten given space to breathe and to kick around ideas. Free from the shackles, they’re also allowed to behave like human beings. So, their frustrations, fatigue and nail colour also form part of it.
If I could break it down by numbers, it is 10 per cent Newsnight, 25 per cent humour, 10 per cent running-on-empty tiredness, 40 per cent insight and 5 per cent speculation about the significance of the colour of Laura Keunssberg’s coat (baseless as it turns out).
MPs talking like humans
Fascinatingly, the informal approach also rubs off on occasional guests such as this MP who talks about his Brexit coping strategy:
“How long do you spend in your hole?”
MP Andrew Percy tells us about his special hiding place in Parliament. 😂
— BBC Sounds (@BBCSounds) April 6, 2019
As this snippet posted to Twitter shows, you get a disarming insight into the life of two MPs. One a Remainer and one a Leaver. They’re both affected by the stress of Brexit.
So much so, that one MP finds a quiet spot in Parliament to escape the stress by pulling his jacket over his head and maybe flick ‘v’s at passers-by.
The podcast itself gets published late at night and is my way to get up to speed on shifting developments.
Journalists talking like humans
As a former journo, I get that the most interesting stuff often doesn’t make the news story and Brexitcast gives some degree of flavour.
It captures something of the excitement of breaking news in a newsroom and the down-time speculation around stories that made where I worked such an exciting place to be.
News has changed
This could not have been done the last time the UK was debating its membership of what was then the EEC.
Technology has changed and so has people’s habits of consuming the news.
Things like Brexitcast remind me how antiquated the idea of solely gathering around the telly at an appointed time for news now is.
But what’s also fascinating is that downloads of the podcast on the itunes chart may give future historians an insight into how bothered people were about Brexit itself:
Pic: itunes chart, April 2019
At a time when MPs are being threatened in the streets and dodgy money is funding Facebook attack ads this is a wonderful reminder that at heart we are still British.
If you look hard enough, we still have a sense of humour, still have intelligence and still have tolerance. And the BBC are still finding ways to be as relevant in the 21st century as Robin Day’s bow tie was when I was a kid.
Note. I’ve updated to reflect that the podcast has been daily of late.