NYSE Opening Bell with Warren Buffett: A Day in the Life of SVP of Marketing Tom Becktold

Here’s a glimpse into one of the best days I’ve experienced in my 23 years at Business Wire. This is a recap of my experiences planning and participating in the Business Wire 50th Anniversary NYSE Opening Bell events on Friday, September 30.  (Learn more about Tom Becktold)

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We had planned for months – event details, contests, timing, logistics, media interview scheduling.  When the most famous investor in the world accompanies you to the NYSE Opening Bell under the gaze of media, employees and clients to honor the 50th anniversary of your company, you want to get it right.

It was an incredibly exciting day as dozens of our staff were on hand as Warren Buffett joined Business Wire on our big day.

The NYSE hosted a breakfast for the Bellpodium guests in their historic board room, which has played host to heads of state and business leaders for the past century – impressive to say the least.  Joining us were executives from Barclays Bank, including Berkshire Hathaway market maker Jimmy Maguire, who’s been on the trading floor for more than four decades.  NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer welcomed us and presented Business Wire with a framed proclamation honoring our 50thCathy Baron Tamraz and Warren Buffett each made remarks, with Warren pulling out a copy of the letter Cathy sent to him that started the process of Business Wire being purchased by Berkshire Hathaway in 2006.

To the Bellpodium we headed at 9:20 am, where we saw BW colleagues and traders cheering us on.  It was a tremendous honor to be among the group on the podium representing the amazing Business Wire team around the globe. Duncanput us all at ease by demonstrating some entertaining clapping styles.

We then headed to the trading floor, which was a frenzy of activity.  Traders wanting Warren Buffett’s autograph or to shake his hand – really everyone there was in awe of him, and he couldn’t have been more gracious.  A trip to the Barclay’s trading desk, and then to a photo op for wire service and news photographers quickly followed, along with a video interview by the NYSE, conducted by their senior media relations manager (and former BW colleague!) Annmarie Gioia.

From there, we split into teams.  Most BW folks headed up to the Board Room or luncheon along with many of our trade press for interviews that have or will be appearing soon.  I stayed with Cathy,Warren and a couple NYSE reps on the floor as we did four live and one taped interview in about an hour – Fox Business, CNBC, Bloomberg, Nightly Business Report and CNN.  Cathy did a fantastic job summarizing our anniversary and fielding questions along side Buffett (see links to coverage below).

Our luncheon then took center stage, with more than 225 in attendance, including BW staff, Berkshire colleagues, executives at our top clients and agencies, executives and reporters from our trade media and major media – Fortune, CNBC, industry influencers like Jeff Morgan, head of NIRI, among others.

The luncheon opened with remarks by Cathy where she introduced our College Video Contest winner, Jenna Marie James.  Jenna has become quite the celebrity as a result of winning our contest to come to NY to meet Warren Buffett.  She’s been interviewed by newspapers and radio stations in her home state of Indiana (she’s a senior at Ball State University), and did a live interview with the CBS Early Show on the morning of the event.  She’s pretty amazing and her videos are great fun to watch.

We then played our 50th Anniversary Video, produced for the event, featuring interviews with BW execs, and followed with a toast by Gregg Castano.

After lunch, Cathy did an interview with Warren Buffett and then opened the floor to questions from the audience.  The subjects covered were timely and Buffett’s comments were informative and in his disarming style.  He touched on the European debt crisis and his thoughts on the Euro surviving (they need a more unified monetary policy or need to break up) to the “Buffett tax” (he jokingly said he always wanted a tax named after him) to our economy (watch housing starts – we need to the number of households, which will take time, to absorb the available housing; when we have a million new housing starts a year, the economy will be back).

The luncheon wrapped at about 2:30 with Buffett signing autographs and posing for pictures with our clients.  The feedback, tweets and blog posts we’ve received indicate that Friday was a resounding success!

Happy 50th Business Wire!

Television Coverage Highlights

CNBC Squawk on the Street (CNBC link)

CNN Newsroom (CNN link)

Fox Business News (Fox Biz link)

Bloomberg In the Loop (Bloomberg link)

PBS Nightly Business Report (PBS link)

CBS The Early Show (CBS link) interview with our College Video Contest Winner Jenna Marie James, also covered on local television stations, including ABC-Channel 8/Omaha, CBS-Channel 5/San Francisco, CBS-Channel 8/Indianapolis.

Trade Coverage Highlights

IR Magazine/Inside Investor Relations

http://www.insideinvestorrelations.com/articles/ir-tv/18503/warren-buffett-and-business-wire/

Warren Buffett and Business Wire bring cheer to Wall Street

Happy 50th anniversary, Business Wire

PR Newser

http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/warren-buffett-business-wire-celebrate-50-years-at-the-nyse_b28023

Warren Buffett, Business Wire Celebrate 50 Years at the NYSE

PR Week

http://www.prweekus.com/buffetts-communications-advice-keep-it-simple/article/213288/

CommPro.biz

http://blog.commpro.biz/irthereforeiam/?p=1094

Great Partners: Warren Buffett Helps Celebrate Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary at NYSE

PRSA Tactics and NIRI IR Update are planning pieces for their print editions.

Feintuch Communications (client/guest, Henry Feintuch)

http://prniblets.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-lunch-with-warren-buffett-and.html

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