LIVE: You’ve got to know your audience, says Top Gear’s Anthony

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By Anna Riley

A Top Gear journalist revealed that the industry was evolving as it gained a better understanding of its audience.

Anthony Dhanendran, digital product lead of BBC Top Gear, said he would not be giving any juicy gossip about the show, but was instead talking about the digital product – the website.

Top Gear is one of the world’s best known TV shows and there is also a magazine that reaches eight million people –  as well as a website which includes car reviews and car buying advice.

Anthony told Leeds Trinity Journalism Week he was responsible for trying to tie the TV show, magazine and website together.

The website is independent of the show and expert car journalists write for it – as well as two of the shows presenters.

Anthony said: “The show has been going through some interesting times.  As you know, we lost our three presenters 18 months ago.  We were in the process of re-doing the website at the time.  I don’t think it’s a secret that series 23 featuring Chris Evans and Matt wasn’t quite a success.”

In 2011 Anthony started working at Global iPlayer for the BBC and found himself doing more ‘product’ and less pictures.

His first press trip was to Cannes with ‘actual supermodels’. He said: “It was pretty good, the problem was that nothing much lived up to it after that.”

Anthony told the audience: “I really admire Rupert Murdoch, not for the politics but the guy is a proper newspaper man, he’s got ink running through his veins.

“It is good advice to watch what Rupert Murdoch does because he is a proper news person and I’ve got a lot of romantic admiration for old fashioned news.”

He also revealed the cost of software developers – with only 10 employed across Top Gear and Good Food.  In his role as product manager, Anthony is responsible for making sure the BBC are getting the best value for money out of their staff.

 

He added that there were good opportunities for a career which combines journalism and technology: “There is a lot of opportunity for people who are interested in journalism and tech. You don’t have to be a nerd to do it, but just need to be interested in technology.”

The new trend for ad-blocking is a real challenge, he said.  “Ad blocking is here to stay and we need to work out how to fix it.”

 

It was useful to know what the product people did as there would be product managers in any organisation. Some of the best suggestions that the product team at Top Gear have had have come from the editorial team.

“Journalists make good product managers as they know their audiences and empathise with them. You don’t need to be technical to be a product manger, so bear it in mind,” he said.

 

 

 

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