Or, as Pete Wilson, Editor of Radio 4’s You and Yours put it, ‘the Jerry Maguire principle’. Pete said that this drives the entire ethos of the programme. Running since 1970, the BBC’s consumer affairs show has been championing issues that matter to people for decades, but its purpose has been thrust back into the spotlight given the cost of living crisis.
This kind of show may seem commonplace now, with newcomers like Martin Lewis sharing tips on how people can save money. Still, when speaking to Pete, we learnt what makes You and Yours stand out, and how it has continued to evolve over 50 years since its first transmission.
Pete’s key emphasis on the show’s ambitions was to be solutions-focused. Rather than a space for people to complain about the issues they were facing or air grievances with specific companies, the show aims to provide people with real insight on how to save money or get a fair deal. However, that doesn’t mean that the show is friendly to business, and they are keen to hold companies accountable for poor practices or unfair behaviour.
Pete pressed the importance of considering the wider news agenda when considering which stories to take. If they see the same stories appear over and over, then it will likely matter more to their audience.
For an organisation, business or charity, there is scope to get your brand on the show, but there are some key points to consider. As a charity, it’s important that you’re offering ‘real people’ and not ‘some guy in a suit’. The show wants to hear first-hand how people are affected, as this is how audiences will relate to the issue. One recent story You & Yours has been covering is the rising cost of being disabled and how the broader cost of living crisis disproportionately impacts people with disabilities. Hearing from real people about these challenges has been vital to telling the story.
For businesses, it’s not enough to be presenting an issue; they must also provide a solution. For example, a housing organisation with research around rent and cost of living may be interesting, but unless they are offering practical solutions, it’s not worthwhile to their programme.
One focus for the show in recent years has been how it can relate to a younger audience. The programme’s current demographic skews female, most people in their 50s and 60s. Pete said he’s not ‘delusional’ enough to expect teenagers to listen to the show, but he’d like to improve listenership among those in their 30s and 40s.
One way in which the programme has tried to do this is through the ‘Sliced Bread’ segment and podcast, which covers specific topics and products more relevant to that demographic. These have included shows focussed on: whether buying luxury sunglasses is worth the price, how not to be defrauded online, and how to live a greener life.
The key point to consider is to offer something authentic. Case studies will always be better than corporate spokespeople, and focusing on the solution rather than the problem is vital.