Channel 4 hosts a series of work experience opportunities and apprenticeships throughout the year and I was lucky enough to be chosen for one that took place on the 29th August 2019. Even though I had applied months before, there is a high volume of applicants, to which I found out 190 people had applied and there were only 20 spaces. However, the work experience I had applied for only lasted for a day but little did I know that a day was more than enough to gain insightful knowledge and experience from those working at Channel 4. Channel 4 really did lay out the red carpet for all 20 applicants who were lucky enough to attend - it was like receiving a golden ticket from Willy Wonka. Accommodation was booked for those who travelled from afar as well as transport being sorted out and travelcards/tickets given. Food was even included with a £5 voucher being given to spend during lunch at Channel 4 - it was absolutely beautiful.
The itinerary for the day went as follows:
Introduction to Channel 4
After a few icebreakers where everyone got to know their companions for the day a little better Yasmin, the 4Talent Coordinator, delved deeper into the history of Channel 4. In 1982 Channel 4 was finally on air - with the first programme being Countdown which still runs to this day with just over 7000 episodes. To my surprise Channel 4 was created as Margaret Thatcher wanted to branch away from public television and create an entirely new TV channel. As Channel 4 is publicly owned it means most of its revenue comes from advertising which can be seen through either adverts between programmes and documentaries or through their online platform All 4. Channel 4 is renowned for its diversity and educational focused content but at times has caused major controversy which was seen through the documentary Leaving Neverland. Channel 4 has a range of different branches to which include More 4, E4, All 4 and Film 4 to name a few - each with their own specific audience and desired demographics.
With the hundreds upon hundreds of different TV platforms, channels and now even streaming platforms it’s more than important for companies to continue being relevant. With so much choice companies want to make sure that the consumer doesn’t only watch their specific network but makes sure they return. Channel 4 goes above and beyond to research into consumer insights such as by delving deeper into data science, strategy, audience research as well as advertising research. Even though data science is done by another department at Channel 4 it still remains relevant as advertisers can then use these figures to see what they can aim at consumers to be the most beneficial and successful. Brands wouldn’t dream of advertising with companies if they weren’t more than sure they’d get their money’s worth and create more attention and excitement around a specific product or service.
For this workshop Yasmin invited 2 current employees at Channel 4 to explain how sales at Channel 4 works. It’s a very lengthy process and a lot goes on behind closed doors - us consumers only see the advertisement but there’s a lot of work that happens between Channel 4 and different media agencies which work on behalf of the brand who wants to advertise. For example, advertisers may desperately want to find an advertising space between programmes such as The Great British Bake Off and Gogglebox since it’s viewership has risen by millions each time a new series is released. On the other hand, in the hotter months such as July and August advertisers need to find other ways to advertise to consumers as most people are either on holiday or out of the home - in other words they’re not watching TV.
There a range of different partnerships at Channel 4 which can be seen through partnerships account managers, content solutions as well as commercial partnerships. Partnerships account managers is the specific department that deals with sponsorships, for example the Nationwide advert that deals with hate comments from previous adverts or Maltesers for the featuring of a disabled woman in one of their adverts. Channel 4 brought these issues to light, to which many other companies wouldn’t dream or dare do, for which a shock factor was brought to the audience and attention created around the issue. Branded entertainment is essentially branded adverts about a specific brand which represents a specific topic or issue. However, OFCOM regulations are strict which leads Channel 4 to have more of an editorial approach to make successful content without stepping over the line of what’s acceptable. There needs to be a conversation with customers through a holistic approach that is editorial and certainly not an advert. An example of this would be the approach from Age UK and the programme Old People’s Home For 4 Year Old’s - with over 1.2 million old people alone the programme matches perfectly with the charity which tugged at people’s heartstrings and led to it being the biggest fundraising day for Age UK.
Digital Sales Workshop
The biggest growth area for not only Channel 4 but thousands of different companies across the UK would be the rise of digital media. Digital media has become one of the best platforms to advertise on mainly because it’s efficient and will reach a specific audience - advertisers can reach consumers through their mobiles, on their Smart TV, their tablet and even through on demand content. All 4 has 29 platforms which has an enormous reach with the highest young upmarket reach which is for people aged between 16 and 34. There are over 37 million views through the availability of Friday Night Dinner - this giving advertisers a huge reach and the potential to really profit from this large viewership as spending their money would be most efficient here.
Even if you’re not located in London there are tons of opportunities that Channel 4 can offer people around the UK such as upcoming events which can be found on https://careers.channel4.com/4talent. There will be a Production Training Scheme held for 12 months at Channel 4 for which applications open in April 2020. Apprenticeships at Channel 4, a chance that allows people to learn and earn, which can be between 14 and 24 months also opens in January or February of 2020.
Overall, Channel 4 offers an unmissable day for those wanting to learn more about Channel 4 and the specific departments there rather than just an overview of the company. These departments such as sales and consumer insights are often overlooked by many, with people gunning for experience with the hands-on approach to making programmes and content for Channel 4. For someone like me, who hasn’t gone to university nor given the opportunity to discover my passion for all forms of media, Channel 4 allowed me to put my foot in the door and gain helpful insight that will benefit me in the future.
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