Telum Talks To... Vivian Kam, Producer, CNBC (Hong Kong)
Walk us through your role at CNBC.
I am a TV Producer at CNBC based in Hong Kong, where I cover global business news with a focus on the Greater China markets. My role is a mixture of a field producer, segment producer, and guest booker.
I’m usually up early in the morning to read the headlines and check in at the desk before the Asia markets open. As our live news programmes in this region run from 6am HKT to early afternoon, morning is usually the busiest time of my day. I will be gathering news, arranging interviews and brainstorming angles and stories with my reporters. After the morning rush, I will then focus on planning for upcoming news coverage, producing taped interviews, meeting with publicists, sending interview invitations and much more. The pandemic has made my schedule more regular. Before Covid, I would be travelling occasionally to field produce overseas.
Tell us about your editorial team and CNBC's day-to-day operations. What is your team's main editorial focus?
Business news is the bread and butter of our coverage at CNBC, from the financial markets to the economy. Our broadcast reaches 365 million homes worldwide and many more through digital platforms. On a day-to-day basis, we produce around 7 to 8 hours of live news programming from Monday to Friday in Asia, including Squawk Box, Street Signs and Capital Connection.
Most of our editorial team members in Asia are based in our Singapore headquarters, but we also have colleagues stationed in Hong Kong and Beijing. We also have a Features team who creates longform business programmes such as Managing Asia.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a Producer?
As a producer you are responsible for the quality of the content being produced, and in charge of your team in every aspect (especially when you’re in the field). These include managing schedules and logistics, building external relationships, maintaining smooth communication etc.
I think the greatest challenge of being a producer is to remain cool-headed in a fast-paced environment, try not to doubt yourself when making decisions, as well as knowing how to balance the needs of the coverage and your team.
How has the broadcast industry evolved since you first started?
I think broadcast media now is no longer a unilateral, single channel form of journalism as we used to know it. I started my career as a radio news reporter in Toronto, Canada, then subsequently entered TV news. Back then broadcast media was the "go-to" platform for breaking news and we aired our news through a single channel – i.e. radio or TV.
Now that cell phones and social media have made information more accessible, broadcast journalists have to match that publishing speed while making sure the story is available across multiple platforms. An example is when I was covering the Taiwan presidential election in 2020. In addition to regular live TV hits, we were doing social media reporting on the ground. That way we were able to cover the headlines on TV, while bringing sideline angles through social media content, making the coverage more complete and well-rounded.
How should communications professionals pitch you stories? What topics interest you and your team the most?
We are interested in covering business news in general: anything from the financial markets to individual companies, IPOs, M&A deals, major announcements from companies and so on. When we receive a pitch, we will look at a pool of factors to determine if a story is of interest. For instance, we’ll look at the company and the spokesperson being offered, what’s the news peg and the angle of the interview, whether it works with the news flow etc. My suggestions for PRs pitching us is to know your story well, make sure the story matches with the usual coverage of that medium, be clear about what you’re pitching, and make your pitch punchy.