People: meet Katy Roberts, This Morning Live Event Director
Katy Roberts joined Media 10 trusted with the exciting task of bringing to life Britain’s most loved daytime TV show: This Morning.
A hugely successful inaugural event saw Holly Willoughby, Phillip Schofield and other celebrities meeting and greeting visitors; and delivering a live edition from the This Morning Live’s ‘sofa’ in Birmingham. We talked to Katy about her experience running the event, personal highlights and a favourite weekend spot.
Katy, you have launched the live experience of Britain’s officially most loved daytime TV programme – This Morning. Which challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
Capturing the worlds of live television and exhibitions was an exciting but daunting challenge, particularly with This Morning being the jewel in the ITV Daytime crown. We needed to maintain the integrity of the This Morning brand whilst allowing our visitors to enjoy an experience which reflected the programme along with the well-known faces of the This Morning family. The partnership we have with ITV is highly collaborative which certainly helped us to overcome the pressure of delivering high quality content on our stages and meeting the expectations of our visitors. We worked together to bring timetables with inspirational topics, with ITV contributing their ideas and experience of items on live TV, paired with our own experience of what works well at live events. We had to ensure that with the level of talent we were working with, their needs were met and that they felt entirely comfortable in the surroundings of a live event with exhibitors, visitors and security teams moving them around the show.
Our biggest challenge was to ensure that visitors were aware of the concept of the event – our experience with launching Grand Designs meant that we knew there could be a chance that visitors wouldn’t entirely understand that they would be buying tickets for a shopping experience as well as the chance to see the This Morning family across our 5 stages. We crafted our marketing messages pre-show and onsite to make it clear that visitors should expect to come to a ‘Shopping & Lifestyle Show’ complete with demo’s, famous faces, high street retailers and boutique brands. In addition to this we scripted in shopping messages to our content onsite with presenters picking out their favourite items for sale across the show.
How is it working with Holly, Phil and the This Morning team?
Bringing a live television production team into the exhibition world was a learning curve for everyone concerned – in terms of the stage content, onsite if we were running a few minutes off the published timetable we knew that wouldn’t affect our audience. However in TV, even a few seconds late can have huge impact on scheduling. So helping the ITV teams, including the talent, to understand the flexibility we have at a live event was important to ensure we were working together. The best experience for our visitors was to see Holly & Phillip off autocue, able to say (almost) anything they wanted, and to create the feel of a live conversation that could over-run if it needed to.
Holly and Phillip both embraced the event from cutting the ribbon to having photos in our Meet & Greet area, and on several occasions mentioned how lovely it was to be able to see who was watching from the other side of the camera. Phillip chose to walk around the show during the first day and meet people, shake their hands and have selfies with them – he thoroughly enjoyed seeing our visitors and it was something that we could never have guaranteed but happened organically. The collaborative nature of our partnership with ITV meant that This Morning Live continues to develop with a truly passionate team behind it. We all met together in the bar after the first day of the show, exhausted but buzzing from the reaction of the presenters, visitors and exhibitors as we had finally reached the point of months of planning.
What was your personal highlight from the inaugural the show?
The opening day of the show was bonkers. From the crowds outside the entrance, giving Holly & Phillip the scissors to cut the ribbon to walking them through the show to the Main Stage. The most memorable moment was linking live to the studio in London and the noise the visitors made when the cameras panned round the show. It made me realise that what we had worked on for months was really happening and that we were witnessing a real hybrid in terms of exhibitions where we had harnessed the power of a television brand and its personalities, to delight and inspire visitors.
Would you be able to tell us about this year’s edition?
This year we have learnt a lot from feedback from exhibitors and visitors and really tried to work on what we can improve from both sides. Our planning is much tighter as we know what we can expect now! ITV are working hard to create our exciting stage timetables and we have some fabulous new faces to join the line-up of presenters across the four days. We also have a strong line-up of exhibitors across our shopping experience with even more beauty and fashion, home inspiration and delicious food.
And finally, since we enjoy finding new places, tell us about one of your favourite weekend spots?
Last summer I took my husband and 2 year old daughter to Camber Sands for the weekend. We were incredibly lucky that it was the only really hot weekend of the year but it was where I would love to spend more time, with the rolling sand dunes, a beach that goes on for miles before you reach the sea and long grass to hide in while watching the sunset eating fish and chips. Just watch out for the seagulls.
This Morning Live returns from 17th – 20th May at the NEC Birmingham. Watch the video: http://bit.ly/ThisMorningLive2...