PR Pitching Tips for Broadcast News with CNN Anchor Ali Velshi

Ali Velshi and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank
Ali Velshi and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

In this interview, I talked to CNN News Anchor Ali Velshi about citizen journalism, receiving pitches from PR firms, and using the tech to research news.

Ali Velshi, a news anchor for CNN, contributes regular business features and updates for “The Bottom Line” segment of the network’s afternoon program, The Situation Room.

Velshi previously hosted The TurnAround, CNN’s small business improvement program that profiled a small business owner and a high-profile mentor as they developed a plan for success. Previously, Velshi anchored CNN’s Your Money and The Money Gang.

Before joining CNN in September 2001, Velshi hosted The Business News, Canada’s first and only prime-time business news hour.

In 1999, he joined Canada’s only all-business news channel, Report on Business Television, as an anchor. In 1996, he was awarded a fellowship to Congress by the American Political Sciences Association, where he worked with U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton.


3:51 – Ali Velshi talks about how blogs, podcasts, and citizen journalism affect CNN: “On the podcasting side, I think that is the untouched future…and it influences us at CNN because we realize that people want information fast…”

6:10 – Velshi discusses whether internet companies are resurging.

7:14 – Velshi answers whether sound bites are more tempered since the internet bubble has burst.

7:54 – Velshi offers his view on what makes a great interview.

8:43 – Velshi talks about how to interview someone who is media-trained.

10:15 – Velshi discusses his recent interview with Bill Gates.

11:15 – Velshi on the impact of the internet on small businesses and whether small businesses need a presence on the web: “It [the internet] is absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to small businesses.”

12:31 – Velshi on what he expects to find on a company’s website: “I would say we do 70 percent roughly of our work on the internet…when we go to a company’s website, we expect everything…we really want transparency on the website — you don’t want to have to guess what something means.”

14:18 – Velshi talks about how FOX gained such a large audience so quickly.

14:50 – Velshi discusses CNN’s response to FOX’s success: “…the ability to connect with the viewer will be more important to them [viewers] than the political view that’s expressed.”

16:58 – Velshi talks about the internet’s influence on networks that rely on geographic exclusivity: “…I think there’s a whole different way in which people choose to get their information whether it’s all the channels on TV…or all the channels plus what’s available on the web, plus podcasts, plus blogs…”

18:45 – Velshi views whether newsprint is sustainable.

19:58 – Velshi talks about his podcast: “…the idea is that…I give them [listeners] something to relate to. It’s the stories behind the news that they’re hearing about.”

21:33 – Velshi on the objectives of his podcast from a business standpoint.

22:30 – Velshi discusses the progress of his podcast.

23:20 – Velshi talks about how many people listen to his podcast.

24:03 – Velshi on whether he’s included things from pitches from PR people in his podcast.

24:33 – Velshi talks about who his influencers are, and the blogs and websites that he visits.

25:52 – Velshi on how many email pitches he receives daily from PR people.

26:18 – Velshi talks about the stories he covers.

27:00 – Velshi discusses how he likes to receive his pitches, how long pitches should be, and what makes a great pitch.

28:43 – Velshi on his spam filters and his policy on attachments.

29:20 – Velshi talks about whether email is less useful as a result of spam.

30:25 – Velshi talks about the use of RSS.

31:32 – Velshi shares his thoughts on Al-Jazeera’s plan to launch in the United States.

33:01 – Velshi talks about the change in partisanship of news broadcast over the past ten years.

34:29 – Velshi talks about how Apple’s new capability to run Microsoft Windows will affect its business.

35:50 – End.

Photo by World Bank Photo Collection

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