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Interview with BBC's Chris Davies

The BBC's latest figures revealed they are the most-shared news brand on Twitter, with stories being shared 2.7 million times in the last month. BBC Global News' Director of Sales & Marketing, Chris Davies, shares some information about the BBC's new shows and campaigns it's running in South Africa, and also at how social media is a driving force in breaking news today.
BizcommunityWhat is the 'Live the Story' campaign all about and what kind of response have you received so far?

Chris Davies:
In January 2013 we re-launched BBC World News from our state of the art studios in London with a new brand positioning and major global marketing campaign called 'Live the Story'.

The campaign focused on BBC World News and and our unique ability to engage audiences through our reporting. With more journalists in more places than any other international news broadcaster, the BBC brings unrivalled depth and insight to news from around the world and, because our journalists live the story, our audience can live the story along with them.

We've had a very positive response from it so far by measuring the amount of traffic coming through to our site and with mobile and digital, so we're definitely seeing a high engagement with our audience.

There are also a couple of awards that we've been selected for. We've won two awards so far because of the campaign, and we're up for Promax Global Awards later on this year which we're excited about.

BizcommunityHow has the campaign proved in South Africa?

South Africa is definitely a market that we're looking to break into, especially within the digital and mobile channels. South Africa, for us, is really a priority market this year, so taking our resources and budget into account, we've really been looking at how we can make the most of our marketing efforts in 2014.

BizcommunityWith the big elections coming up, what kind of coverage is the BBC doing from a marketing perspective?

From the TV side we have shows coming up and lots of programmes focusing on the elections such as a special debate, South Africa decides: Is democracy delivering? which was presented by Lerato Mbele and Audrey Brown and was broadcast on BBC World Service radio on 2 and 4 May.

We're also getting extensive coverage across the news output, led by Zeinab Badawi on World News Today, as well as our two flagship Africa-focused programmes, Focus on Africa and Africa Business Report, so we're seeing a massive amount of editorial content coming in.

From a marketing perspective, we're focusing on digital ads, outdoor campaigns and especially mobile. We have reporters providing a global view, which is something that is really important to us, to talk about South Africa during these elections and to report a from wider perspective to reach a wider audience.

What we're also really working on is our Mxit app campaign, launched April 25 2014. It's been doing really well with thousands of subscribers, so Mxit is really happy with it, as are we.

The Mxit platform has so far delivered 8% more subscribers than expected due to a higher than average click through rate on the splash screen ad. People are responding well to the content and we've been running polls on the app about the elections/voting, so they're not just talking about our content and engaging, but really actively getting involved, so this is a really big one that we're really pleased with at the moment.

BizcommunityDo you think people are looking to Twitter more for news in this modern age?

Interestingly we did a piece of research last year with four different screens: TV, computer, tablet and mobile to see how people are consuming content, while people may get their breaking news initially from platforms like twitter, TV is still the go-to platform as the stories develop.

For the BBC, social media is very important and something we look to engage with our audience. The BBC is coming out month on month as the number one news source on Twitter. We're seeing an increase of usage on the BBC Twitter page because we share trustworthy content so people don't have to be afraid of retweeting content that turns out to be incorrect, so it's great for users to trust the source which is why we're getting such a strong following on Twitter.

In terms of other social media platforms, Mxit is certainly growing in South Africa, which we're engaging with, and the BBC just tries to keep up with the social media platforms that are growing quicker and quicker like Twitter. We have a huge Facebook presence with over 6 million page likes on BBC World News, so it's very important for us to engage with our audience and be interactive.

BizcommunityCan you tell us more about the new show 'Outside Source' and what kind feedback you've gotten so far?

Presented by Ros Atkins, the programme embraces the technology available in the BBC's new Broadcasting House in London, moving news presentation away from the traditional studio environment. Using a bespoke touch screen, Ros is able to bring audiences the latest on the stories of the day. From his base position in the heart of the BBC's state of the art news room he is able to share packages as they are filed by correspondents out in the field, monitor instant reactions on social media and show live feeds of a developing story, all at the swipe of the screen.

BBC Trending basically looks at what's trending in the digital world. The show looks at social platforms like Twitter and looks into why stories are trending and tries to understand why it has caught people's imagination. We're seeing a very high rate of engagement surrounding it with the response of the show being very interesting, positive and timely. Apart from talking about subjects that are trending, it also looks at other digital aspects such as touch screens, social media and interactive technology.

Follow BBC News South Africa on Mxit by searching for the ID 'BBCNewsSA' and clicking 'Invite', and follow @BBCWorld and @BBCBreaking on Twitter. Watch BBC World News on DStv channel 400.

About Beverley Klein

Beverley Klein is the editor of the Marketing Media South Africa section on With a background in journalism and historical studies, she's dived into the world of industry news, curating content, writing and interviewing thought leaders. She's often spotted in a forest on the weekend and rarely seen without a camera. Follow @BevCPT.