PRNewser Interview: Jay Mishkin, Exec. Morning Producer, WUSA
September 20, 2007
PRNewser chatted with Jay Mishkin, Executive Morning Producer for WUSA (CBS) Washington, DC about his “typical” morning shift, how to get a morning show producer’s attention, and what he did with a wax statue of President Bush.
Jay in his own words:
I started as a reporter & producer right out of college in Rochester, NY. My reporting career ended six months later, but I stayed at the station as the 11pm producer. I moved to WMAR in Baltimore where I held various jobs — ending with Executive Producer. Next positions were WNBC in New York, WJLA in Washington and finally WUSA.
How long have you been with WUSA?
I’ve been at WUSA for 2 years — as morning Executive Producer the entire time. I’ve spent 14 of the past 16 years at stations in both Washington and Baltimore.
What does a “typical” morning for you look like?
We start the morning focused on the 5-7am news hours. The goal is to make the broadcasts as fresh as possible — and our two producers do a great job doing just that. One reporter is assigned to news, the other is typically on a feature live shot. That shot is set up days in advance — usually with the help of PR folks. We are looking to take viewers “behind the scenes” or show them something new and exciting going on around town. Visual elements are key. We are always looking for good ideas.
After 7am, we focus on the 9am hour. That show is a mix of news and in studio interviews. We typically have five guests per day .. from Mayor Fenty and Doug Gansler .. to rapper MC Hammer and actress Della Reese (2 recent guests).
How many PR pitches would you say you receive daily?
I only get 6-10 a day…. but much more when I fill in and book our 9am show. The producer who is responsible for booking the 9am newscast gets dozens of pitches a day. At this moment she is actually not on the phone — a rarity!
Can you give us an example of the last time you produced a segment that originated from a PR pitch?
Honestly, we do this on a weekly — sometimes daily basis. Last week the folks from Madame Tussauds wax museum called and offered to bring the President Bush statue to our studio. It made the segment memorable — not just talking heads with b-roll. We also get lots of pitches for authors and chefs.
What is the weirdest PR pitch you’ve received recently?
I honestly cannot remember one. However my personal pet peeve is a PR mailing that is physically large (read: big box, lots of paper etc) but is just a piece of paper. I understand PR folks want to get our attention, but I feel some just insult my intelligence.
Can you share with us some of your own PR “do’s and don’ts” that all good publicists should know?
Always keep the viewer in mind. We understand you are trying to publicize a client. You understand we are trying to produce a broadcast with interesting and useful information. But if a publicist asks “how can the viewer benefit” and not just “how can my client benefit”, TV news producers will be happier campers. Also, we not interested in blatant commercial appeals. Find a way to pitch the segment with viewer benefit. For a new restaurant opening, have the chef show the viewer how to make something — I don’t want to see the owner. I’ve also had segments that were promised and produced as a specific user-friendly segment, but surprisingly turned into a blatant ad for a product. Clearly responsibility for the content utimately rests with the producer. But make sure the segment meets expectations, otherwise I may not trust the next pitch. And always remember this is TV — pictures and visuals count. Think about what can make the segments look better and TV. And please DO NOT write sample questions. That’s a huge turnoff for us. It might work with less experienced producers in smaller markets, but not here in Washington.
Communicate, don’t spam Jay: jmishkin at wusa9.com