Beginning a Career in Public Relations

Sunday, October 30, 2005

CNN Weekend Anchor Renay San Miguel Highlights PRSA Dallas Media Day October 28, 2005


I had an amazing opportunity to listen to CNN Headline News Anchor Renay San Miguel on Friday at PRSA Dallas' Media Day. Renay delivered a brilliant keynote that addressed his views on the changing world of PR, journalism and technology.

Renay is a weekend anchor for CNN Headline News based in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta and has more than 26 years of journalism experience. During the war in Iraq, he helped staff the CNN/U.S. military desk and interviewed CNN military analysts and outlined military operations using maps and satellite imagery. Renay also participated in Headline News' coverage of the war in Afghanistan in 2002. During his PRSA talk, he said that the moment war broke out, there was a silence in the news room that he will never forget.

Before he was a Headline News anchor, Renay provided technology updates for Headline News and CNN/U.S.

When asked who his "toughest" interview was, Renay said it was Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. The interview took place at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and apparently Bill was having a bad day and yelled at Renay and walked away from the interview. Renay is a tough guy and of course, can handle it, but the funny part of his story was when he explained the reaction of his 27-year old assistant, who said, "Dude, you just got yelled at by Bill Gates!"

Renay also has interviewed Apple CEO Steve Jobs, commenting that whoever the PR person is who told Steve to name the iPod what it is must be doing very well.

As a journalist, Renay did not seem to be bothered by the likes of bloggers and podcasters working to report the news as they see it. Renay jokingly said, "they'll have to pry the microphone from my dead hands [before I give it up]," indicating that journalists and bloggers and PR professionals can co-exist peacefully.

Indeed, while bloggers are allowed to inflect their opinions and political views into their writings, journalists are supposed to remain unbiased and report the truths. And as Renay emphasized, journalists are people, too, and while they have their own views and biases, they are not supposed to come out in interviews and reports.

When asked if he would consider the job of press secretary of the United States, Renay let out a laugh. He said he'd rather have a job that he could look forward to during the day, indicating that Scott McClellan doesn't appear to have a lot of fun up there on that podium.

On a serious note, when asked about his thoughts on why the PR profession is not more diverse, Renay responded that it's a question most definitely in need of discussion. He also pointed out that his profession is in need of more diverse reporters and anchors, and in the prime time spots. Renay said, "I am ready for some competition."

Renay's presentation was awesome and thought-provoking and he really did an incredible job in captivating the audience. He represented CNN and his profession extremely well.

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