What does it take to get your brand, story or exec on TV? Is it magic, luck, or actual hard work and does it have to be tied to a big trend or news of the day? As a former television reporter and someone that has also been on the other side of the camera since 2000, I would answer by saying: if you want to be on broadcast, you have to be able to comment on a larger trend, provide expert commentary and add credibility and weight to a bigger story. But I decided to ask an actual producer and booker for CNBC and someone I have enjoyed working with for the past 15 years — Kerima Greene, Senior Talent & News Producer for CNBC “Power Lunch” – with whom I recently caught up and who kindly answered my questions below.
Before we dig in, here’s a quick primer on “Power Lunch”: It’s is a live, two-hour program (running M-F, 1PM-3PM ET) anchored by Tyler Mathisen, Mandy Drury and Brian Sullivan from CNBC’s Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, with Melissa Lee providing daily contributions from the NASDAQ MarketSite studio. The show focuses on the big, market-moving stories of the day with coverage from CNBC’s Post 9 position on the NYSE floor and from bureaus around the world. It showcases the best stories of the day from CNBC’s roster of top-notch digital and television journalists. Jason Gewirtz is the executive producer.
EY: What do you look for in a good pitch when deciding to do a story for “Power Lunch?”
KG: Breaking news has – and continues to be a hallmark of CNBC’s real-time coverage. Our stories should serve this purpose. Same for guests. We seek and deliver the leading authority and most credible voices for all our coverage. We strive to be timely, newsworthy and actionable. We hope to inform, enrich, occasionally entertain, and more than a few times made a difference for our viewing audience and investors who have skin in the game. Our goal is candid interviews, transparent, market-moving information, unparalleled all-star lineups generating must-see news-making, impactful content throughout the network.
EY: Are you interested in startups or just established companies?
KG: Public traded companies first and foremost. Startups or private companies if they are proven industry disruptors.
EY: Describe your day as a producer – maybe a day in the life of your job?
KG: We begin with two morning editorial meetings, one network wide where we find out what the reporters and shows are planning. A second show editorial meeting follows to focus our two-hour program among the “Power Lunch” team.
We mingle meticulous planning with fast-moving flexibility to deliver the news as it unfolds, from research, graphics, writing and lineup selection and pre-interviews. There are many phone calls to be made, correspondence sent and much collaboration between anchors and our Executive Producer so the message on-air is tight, efficient and cohesive. In addition to producing live television, we also write for the show’s website platform, cnbc.com and powerlunch.cnbc.com.
So we are truly a multi-media informational platform for an engaged audience. Then we wake up and do it again. Each day is new and exciting!
EY: How has the show and your job changed through the years?
KG: It’s been an amazing run. I have had the privilege of watching CNBC grow from a broadcast startup in the late 1990s to a global household name, yet all the while retaining the nimble qualities of a startup. The smartest people are always in the room, both in front of the camera and behind and on the Web. We have the honor – and it is an honor – to interact with the world’s most powerful and influential people and be an eye-witness to history. Case in point: the financial crisis and September 11th are two hallmarks for CNBC where my co-workers all rose to the occasion again and again, broadcasting in the throes of disaster and communicating the news as it unfolded, second by second, minute by minute, sometimes 24/7 without letting up, and providing valuable information for the viewers. During the war, I recall specifically a photo of the War Room of the Pentagon, and the TVs on the bank of walls were tuned to CNBC, and our President and Defense Secretary and leaders were all monitoring the price of oil and our coverage on the markets from their seats. It was humbling and insightful. The world relies on our coverage. That responsibility has never been forgotten. Throughout our growth and prominence, we are still family at CNBC and that is the most important quality of all.
Certain things are always the same; journalism has an immovable code of ethics, Comcast the same. And the added financial transparency for CNBC offers even a deeper layer of trust with our viewers.
One thing that has been especially exciting is the digital content and technology that we use on a daily basis, and that we’ve had to learn to keep current, fresh and ahead of the curve. It has been an honor, too, to watch Silicon Valley’s incredible growth, the products and services that literally blow your mind, never seem to let up and that’s been a thrill to watch unfold.
EY: What do you need out of PR? Do you actually look to PR for story ideas? What qualities does a good PR person have in your opinion?
KG: Newsworthy ideas and pitches, communicated efficiently and eloquently. If you can’t describe your pitch efficiently and eloquently in a finite period of time or space, go back to square one and polish it up before you pitch us.