Why our media relations teams are excited about Channel 4’s move to Leeds
Leeds is rolling out the welcome mat for the Channel 4 HQ. I’ve got to say that we’re excited in our office in the city, and not just about the media relations opportunities the big move opens up for our clients.
The TV station’s decision is a massive vote of confidence in the city’s creative sector and in the North of England generally.
A lot of power is concentrated in London and the South-east and seeing it spread out can only be good for the UK as a whole.
The opportunities opening up for the creative industries and young people are fantastic, while it’s another reason for nationwide clients to work with our integrated communications agency in the North of England because we can get the same, if not better, broadcasting opportunities that London has to offer.
I’m expecting this exciting development to mirror what happened across the Pennines when the BBC made its big expedition into the North. Our Manchester agency has seen great benefits to its media relations activity from Media City being established just up the road in Salford.
Following the BBC's lead
Thinking back to when the Beeb decided to move BBC Breakfast to Salford, critics said the production team would struggle to get guests on that red sofa. That’s emphatically not been the case – and the show is as good as it ever was.
It will be interesting to see whether Channel 4 News follows the HQ to Leeds, given that it’s produced by London-based ITN. The station has confirmed a news bureaux for the city, along with others at its new “creative hubs” in Bristol and Glasgow (pictured below). We’re anticipating a few Game of Thrones jokes about Jon Snow being the King in the North if the whole show moves here!
Whatever happens, there are at least 200 media jobs coming to Leeds, so the benefits of stepping away from the London bubble are being shared across the North. Channel 4 will be keeping 600 personnel at its capital HQ but moving a fair chunk of their creative team to Leeds.
Impressed by creativity
It’s clear from Channel 4’s statement that they have been impressed by the creativity in Leeds. It’s a thriving digital hub, and only 45 miles along the M62 from all the exciting developments at Media City.
And the station has been talking up the work of the independent production companies across the North. There’s already a strong broadcasting presence here – the city’s home to the production of Emmerdale, and Sky have set up their digital technology hub here.
There’s also plenty of emerging talent in Leeds, which is a university city with a strong reputation for culture and the arts. That fits in with Channel 4’s ethos to think differently and provide an alternative from the mainstream.
So it’s a good thing that young talent that might have cast eager eyes towards London will realise they will be able to stay in Leeds instead, and build a career with a national impact here.
To be fair, I’ve done that. I grew up in the Midlands and moved to Leeds – and I wouldn’t consider leaving. There’s an energy and friendliness in the city that I’ve come to cherish, and great professionals work here in thriving areas of industry and commerce.
The world is getting smaller
While the media can appear London-centric, the internet has made the world smaller. One of my key marketing and media relations accounts is handling the nationwide campaign for the French fashion and homewares brand La Redoute. There’s no need to be in London all day, every day to do that thanks to digital communications.
My colleagues in Glasgow are also excited by Channel 4’s decision to set up a media hub there. There’s already a mini “Media City” on the banks of the Clyde, with STV and BBC Scotland next-door neighbours. The thought of a Channel 4 production hub and news bureaux opening up nearby will give the team in Scotland great PR opportunities for their clients, just as the Leeds HQ will undoubtedly benefit my team in the North and Midlands.
Like Leeds – and the other beneficiary, Bristol – Glasgow has a thriving media scene, brilliant independent production companies, and produces TV that’s shown nationwide.
I’m excited about the future – for the city I call home, and for my clients.
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