Interview of the month: James Laxton on BBC Breakfast


It was the sort of media opportunity businesspeople dream about: a full one and a half minute piece on BBC Breakfast, combining both pre-recorded pieces and a live interview with the MD, repeated throughout the morning. Whoever James Laxton, MD of Laxton’s Specialist Yarns has got doing his PR, he ought to give them a bonus.

However, as we all know, getting the opportunity is only half the battle. You have to make sure you fully exploit it, and I’m not sure that Laxton entirely achieved this. Take a look at the clip here and see if you agree with me.

In some ways  Laxton had a tough job following on from his employee in this piece. That employee (unnamed by the BBC) might not have been the first person the marketing team thought of when they looked around the factory for a media spokesperson but he did brilliantly. He spoke with a broad smile, and he brimmed with enthusiasm for his traditional and highly-skilled work – there would have been few viewers who didn’t warm to him. He also did a great job of conveying the  company’s key selling point: it’s not competing on price with textiles manufacturers in Asia, but it offers a high quality product.

So, it was a challenge for the boss, but one that, had he risen to it, could have seen this turn into a major PR triumph. And he did ok. He certainly looked the part; he was calm, considered, and clearly proud of the work he  is doing taking his family business into the 21st  Century. However, I think he got a bit lost with his message.

He told viewers that they have responsibility to buy British, so that retailers will want to stock it. It was a somewhat confused argument – you can see him slightly losing his train of thought – and it wasn’t the right argument to make. Viewers don’t want to be told what they should do; they want to hear what’s in it for them. The point his colleague had made about quality was the right one to use, and I think that with a bit more preparation on his key messages Laxton would have had much more impact in this interview.

Those are my thoughts – what are yours? (NB. I’ve resisted all temptations to talk about woolly spokespeople, so you should too!)

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3 Comments

Filed under Business, PR

3 responses to “Interview of the month: James Laxton on BBC Breakfast

  1. Agreed, it was a great opportunity for Laxton, but his message – and attitude – did need refining. Effective PR has to be about persuasion, rather than issuing orders, so his response about what consumers ‘should’ do is definitely a bit of a miss-fire from this perspective.

  2. Manfred

    I agree, it should have been presented as a a win-win situation, oppose to telling the viewers they are obligated to buy because they are British.

    People like the power to choose and not to be told they have to do something, especially if it is something that does not really add value to their life.

  3. Alex, thanks for sharing this. The greatest problem interviewees have with TV is that they don’t know what’s going to be left behind in the editing suite (assuming this wasn’t live). He might have said something better, from a marketing message perspective, only to find it cut post-interview.
    If the firm did have someone advising them on PR, it seems odd that they’ve been unable to get this appearance mentioned and linked to on the firm’s website. A pretty good clue about how this opportunity came about is that the firm was first featured in the BBC’s Country File magazine at the end of last year – which was when a week-long series of events under the banner ‘British Wool Week’ was held. So I suspect this TV appearance came about not through a direct pitch to BBC Breakfast from a PR supremo, but as a consequence of efforts first made by the British Wool Marketing Board. That, plus of course, having a good story to tell in the first place (I resisted using the word ‘yarn’ just then).

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