Lessons from undercover filming

Abby Mangold on factory floor ahead of filming for BBC Inside the Factory

Having sent undercover BBC camera teams into food businesses and having produced many programmes on failing food and production standards, we know what visiting journalists look out for on busy production lines. And the good, the bad and the ugly discoveries that can undo reputations.

But done in the right way, inviting cameras in can be a big win. Ahead of filming for BBC Inside the Factory, we visited one client’s production floor, before the crew and host Greg Wallace arrived.

Using our documentary maker’s mindset and an experienced camera operator, we spent the day filming with each team member on location giving them on camera experience and answering questions in the busy factory.

This hugely successful British snack company knew a prime-time TV slot was a huge opportunity, requiring careful prep to showcase the brand and its people. How did we help?

  • Define what each person brings to the programme.
  • Rehearse “on camera” skills for working with TV talent.
  • Film on location & fine-tune the set up to suit each person.

As the PR and marketing lead said: “Abby and her team put everyone at ease. The thought and preparation they’d put into the session meant that we got straight on with focussing on the team and making sure they had the practice and insight they needed to speak with confidence.”

Similarly, Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped asked to film with one client in their European factory.  It was not an easy decision so our client asked us to help them take their assessment to the Executive Management Team.

First we:

  • provided a complete briefing on the programme, the presenters, viewing figures, audience and more
  • analysed the risks vs benefit of taking part in the programme
  • managed all the liaison between the client and the TV production company

Next we:

  • visited the factory
  • found the right members of staff to talk to the programme
  • agreed key messaging
  • trained everyone to give them the confidence they needed

The client was thrilled with the final result which showed their manufacturing standards, their people and their brand in very good light.

Undercover filming is a very different experience but whether positive or negative we know how to advise, support and work with clients to achieve the best outcome possible because we’ve been on both sides of the camera.

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Space Shuttle Learnings

Space Shuttle - The failure to imagine the consequences of failure are catastrophic

Tell your boss to watch this Space Shuttle documentary…

📢 Are you the lone voice nudging senior colleagues about crisis planning?

🤔 Are there known issues too trifling to confront amongst all the “business as usual”?

Watch ‘The Space Shuttle that Fell To Earth’ on BBC iPlayer and tell your bosses to do the same, if you want to get crisis communications at the top of the agenda.

👍 Congratulations to Mindhouse Productions, this brilliant 3-parter, sensitively told a difficult story, which among many things shows why a culture of open communication matters. And is as important as crisis preparation.

🚀 Even if you are not in the business of space flight, speaking out, seeking answers and encouraging conversations, will help avoid issues becoming devastating crises.

And give me a shout if your crisis comms nudge could do with a shoulder.

Too Much Passion

Too Much Passion?

Can you have too much passion?

🏆 With awards season upon us, it is worth remembering that behind every good speech is a lot of performance.

Kate Winslet has years of acting experience to draw on.

🔓 So how do the rest of us unlock our best when presenting to others?

🌟 For me, it’s about Producing your Performance, something I learnt working with legendary BBC talent.

🎭 Kate’s passion creates an emotional reaction – even when speaking from notes – so find the passion in your presentation and take it to your audience.

And get in touch if you’re up for unlocking your presentation passion.

The press doorstep – can you handle it?

The press doorstep - can you handle it?

Only watch this if you KNOW how to handle a doorstep*

The infamous doorstep only ends when the journalist leaves with something.

A no comment, a closed door, or in this case a response.

Managing a doorstep takes some well thought through choreography.

*Full disclosure, this one features my Dad, Tom Mangold, in action on BBC Panorama in 1997 so I may be biased.

Why treat journalists like a friendly dog?

The Hunch Podcast with Abby Mangold - Staying ahead in the reputation game

Who’s the best person to put forward in a crisis?

How does good crisis comms impact the bottom line?

And lessons from NatWest, the British Museum, BBC and Nike

I had a fab time talking to Mark Schmid on his podcast The Hunch about all of the above, and more.

Listen below or follow this link to The Hunch Podcast Episode with Abby Mangold.

“There’s no escaping it, if you run a high-profile business or organisation you will face a reputational issue in the short or medium term. We asked former BBC Watchdog producer Abby Mangold about the changing media landscape and its impact on how leaders prepare for and handle the toughest challenges.”


The Hunch is a Podcast about data and technology. They love educated guesses and gut instincts, too. The Hunch asks experts to predict what’s coming down the line with a focus on the ‘when?’ and the ‘why?’

That Newsnight Interview – Think; Stop; Look and Listen; Wait; Look and Listen again; Arrive Alive

Pedestrians Wait - Photo by Matthew Feeney

Prince Andrew would have done well to follow the Green Cross Code as he stepped into the path of the oncoming Newsnight interview. There has since been much scrutiny of the Royal’s press advisors and why they failed to follow the basics when it comes to media handling in a global reputational storm.

Taking time to stop, look and listen to external communications advisors during a crisis is critical to long term reputation. Like a friendly Green Man, people like us, reiterate life outside the crisis bubble and wider public perception both in the moment and the hours, days and weeks to follow.

Continue reading “That Newsnight Interview – Think; Stop; Look and Listen; Wait; Look and Listen again; Arrive Alive”

Managing Reputation – Warning strong stomach required to read on

zero food standards rating

In among political break-ups and breakaways, a commitment to clean up take-aways is hardly big news – at first glance.

And yet the pledge by Just Eat to remove any of the 29,000 UK restaurants registered with them, who score a zero food hygiene rating, gives food for thought. The food ordering app is investing £1m in hygiene and safety standards. Restaurants that fail to make the grade by 01 May will be kicked off the app and any new entries must score ‘generally satisfactory’ for hygiene.

Continue reading “Managing Reputation – Warning strong stomach required to read on”

Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.

Over the last 10 years my trust in Facebook has been eroded

When I first joined Facebook I trusted the platform and genuinely thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was so interactive, I could store and share photos of my young kids with friends (yes, I was that parent) and catch up on what everyone was up to from the comfort of my then small London flat. A few years later it seemed to be THE place to get breaking news which was always relevant to what I was interested in, thank you algorithms.

Over the last 10 years though that trust has been eroded. Continue reading “Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.”

Just say no – is it ever right to refuse an interview?

Mangold Consultancy TV Interview Training

Jeremy Corbyn & Tom WatsonYesterday morning on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme, Nick Robinson made a not insignificant point of letting listeners know that Jeremy Corbyn was “unavailable” for an interview. Robinson, reporting from the Labour Party Conference said Corbyn had been offered the pick of any time slot he wanted. But there was no Mr Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson stepped up instead.

It’s unusual for a political leader not to give an interview to the Today programme during party conference season. But who says anyone has to give an interview? Continue reading “Just say no – is it ever right to refuse an interview?”

Tom Mangold on Media Training

Tom Mangold

Many television viewers were surprised at the honesty and frankness of my interviewees in the recent BBC 4 ‘Jeremy Thorpe Scandal’ which ran as a complimentary programme to BBC Drama’s three-parter on the same subject.

What viewers may not have appreciated is that those interviews were conducted at a time well before the black arts of media training and crisis management had overwhelmed the television news and current affairs business. I say black arts because teaching people how to deal with the television interview can have a benign or malign effect. Continue reading “Tom Mangold on Media Training”

Kudos to my ex colleagues at BBC Watchdog

BMW

Credit to BBC Watchdog for their investigation on last night’s programme which lead to BMW announcing a recall of hundreds of thousands of cars.

The truth is that no one really knows what goes on inside an organisation during a crisis, apart from the people managing it.  There are often multiple business objectives which reach far beyond being featured on the programme.  Continue reading “Kudos to my ex colleagues at BBC Watchdog”

Inside a Crisis

Inside a Crisis

Fly on the wall TV, sometimes known as ‘obs docs’ (observational documentaries), are familiar fodder for prime time television. They have bred their own genre of satire, such as W1A and anti-heroes like Malcolm Tucker. But there remains some uncharted territory, and done right this obs doc would be a real eye opener. Inside a Crisis – The Comms Insider – impossible to make, impossible to get legal to sign off and impossible to resist for fly on the wall fans.

Continue reading “Inside a Crisis”