ITV’s digital plans should interest online PR agencies (and their clients)

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ITV News, one of the biggest names in UK current affairs broadcasting, has unveiled its biggest push into digital yet, with three unique programme formats heading for the brand’s website in the near future. Online PR agencies take note, then.

It’s a major shift in terms of investment, to date the organisation has been less than eager to throw money at online compared with rivals such as Channel 4 News, which saw its global presence increase exponentially (although notably not its revenue) as a result of shareable content, and market leader BBC News.

The trio of new arrivals take the form of ‘Now What?’, a head-to-head interview series with high profile experts hosted by Robert Peston; ‘Ask A Woman’, wherein ITV New Bulletin presenter Julie Etchingham will appear in pre-recorded interviews with well-known female British influencers, and some lesser known but equally significant faces; and ‘Young, British and Muslim’, which will see Rageh Omaar welcome three guests each episode to provide a mainstream, positive voice for British Muslims, tackling big issues impacting on the demographic.

Interestingly, the formats are already being worked on without sponsorship, and Stephen Hull, the new Head of Digital at ITV News— formerly of Huffington Post— has stated that this is very much about quality content first, monetisation second.

From a public relations perspective all three will offer potential opportunities, albeit competition for screen time will be typically fierce. The second two— ‘Ask A Woman’ and ‘Young, British and Muslim’— may be of the greatest interest due to their focus points, with Peston more likely to stay in the political realm, although that doesn’t discount the need for industry figures to be involved.

Not before time, to give an idea as to the numbers game for digital news in the UK, the BBC’s Facebook page claims a staggering 45million likes, over 2/3 of the UK population, Channel 4 News, which is smaller than both ITV and BBC, claims 4million, many of which have arrived over the last three years (the broadcaster’s Syrian dispatches catalysed its sudden growth), while ITV lags behind both with just 1.8million. Sky News, meanwhile, has almost 8million likes.