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Marketing the BBC at MediaCityUK

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Simon Lloyd Simon Lloyd | 09:06 UK time, Friday, 22 July 2011

Lacey Turner, David Harewood and Andrew Gower in Frankenstein's Wedding... Live in Leeds

They might not make great telly moments like the World Record hula-hoop marathon marking the move of Blue Peter to Salford, but over the last few months there been other moments marking the start of a significant cultural shift for the BBC.

One of these moments happened a few weeks ago with the start of the move of parts of the BBC's Marketing and Audiences departments to MediaCityUK . This state-of-the-art site will become the home for me and over 70 Marketing & Audience colleagues who will all be based here by the end of the year.

One of the reasons we are here in Salford is to help bring the BBC closer and be more relevant to our audiences based across the North of England. Currently around just eight per cent of BBC programmes are made in the North despite a quarter of all licence fee payers living in the region, but BBC North is part of the BBC's commitment to spend the Licence Fee more fairly across the UK.

While we are only just moving into our buildings at Salford Quays, we have been investing in programmes and content across the North of England over the last few years. This has translated into fantastic content such as the award winning TV event, Frankenstein's Wedding... Live in Leeds and critically acclaimed dramas such as United, 32 Brinkman Street, South Riding and Eric and Ernie. Projects such as @North have also enabled us to invest £500,000 in new digital content for the CBeebies and CBBC audiences from companies across the North of England.

We hope by being here we can serve our audiences across the country better - understanding what they want, what they like and dislike and helping them find, enjoy and interact with the content which they love. We're also giving people more of a platform for getting involved in BBC activities - for example being involved in events such as the Manchester International Festival as we were this year. This all reflects a real aspiration to reflect the audience better and help drive approval ratings in areas which have traditionally been lower.

Being based in Salford Quays also gives us the opportunity to work with local agencies and recruit from creative talent pools to ensure we have the best and most creative workforce and helps us deliver our commitment to the North of England to build and develop a workforce in Salford that is among the best trained and most flexible in the media.

Indeed we are currently engaged in an ambitious recruitment process which will help achieve this and have already attracted some really exciting talent from the region such as Charlotte Thompson, former Director at agencies BJL and McCann Erickson, who's joined BBC North as Head of Media and Audience Engagement and Martin Tapley, Research Manager for Audiences in Learning, previously an Account Planner at TBWA\Manchester.

So what will this mean for our audiences? Our role is to partner with the BBC's editorial teams in helping them to make the highest quality programmes that they can and then help them to reach the largest audience possible through creating compelling and engaging campaigns.

We're responsible for a diverse range of areas including Marketing, Media Planning, Audiences and studios and tours. As well as representing the content areas based at BBC North including BBC Children's, BBC Radio 5 live, parts of Future Media & Technology, BBC Learning, BBC Sport and BBC Breakfast - we also working hard to make a difference across the whole of the organisation, pioneering flexible and innovative ways of working and ensuring the maximum amount of the licence fee is spent on things our audience love.

Our dedicated teams will continue to shape the future of some classic brands and promote some of the best loved shows in the UK, ensuring a distinctive northern flavour in the tradition of the award winning Frankenstein's Wedding... Live In Leeds. We'll also be making even better use of tools such as audience interaction and social media to drive approval from audiences.

The challenge of engaging audiences across the whole of the UK - reflecting the nation back to itself - is not one which will be delivered overnight. The BBC is only at the beginning of this journey but it's truly exciting for Marketing and Audiences to be playing such a key role in helping create a closer connection with audiences in the North.

Simon Lloyd is Director of Media Engagement and Marketing & Audiences, North.

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