As the UK gears up for the final of Celebrity Big Brother tonight (well, about 2.7 million of you), it raises the question of whether reality television is a platform the communications industry should be taking more seriously.
Love it or hate it, reality television is the genre that refuses to go away, despite reports that it is becoming ‘stale’. Whether it’s met with howls of protest or obsessive chatter, it gets people talking and continues to pull in those all-important ratings – what more could you ask for?
Don’t get me wrong, I completely see both sides of the argument for and against reality TV formats, but you need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to the opportunity it presents: ordinary, everyday people expressing their opinions and openly showcasing behaviour that in one way or another influences the general public. And if, like me, you work in consumer communications, I’m of the belief that keeping up to date with these trending topics is crucial to the service you are providing.
Take a look at your favourite lifestyle magazine’s feed on Twitter right now. How many stories are related to the CBB final tonight? Or how many times have you checked your showbiz app (yes, you know the one I am talking about) and an image of the latest reality celeb has flashed up on the screen? Part of our role as consumer communications experts is to monitor and interpret current media interests and you cannot deny they are ALL about that good old dose of reality entertainment.
That isn’t to say we should endorse drunken babble or bitchy catfights (entertainment guaranteed or not) – take the recent success of Netflix’s Making a Murderer for example, the real life drama of a man accused of murder which has enthralled the world. Or the success of the Great British Bake Off – whose final episode attracted just over 15 million viewers last year, making it 2015’s most viewed television programme. *Cue everything related to cake being top of the national news agenda*
I’m aware that this is at the other end of the reality spectrum from Ex on the Beach, but the popularity of the Making a Murderer series and GBBO points towards a culture obsessed with reality (and cake, obviously) which only goes to further prove that when it comes to resonating with Generation Z, you better make sure it’s genuine and authentic. And there’s nothing more authentic than reality [scripted or not].
So get watching and start taking notes. You might just learn something about the audience you are trying to engage with…