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

October 10, 2011

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


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Zan Zhang

September 7, 2011

We knew there was a reason to open up Business Wire college video contest to Canada and one of our top ten finalists is proof it was the right decision.  Zan Zhang, a junior working towards his Bachelor of Commerce at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada may just win the grand prize with the winner to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View Zan’s video here (9th one).

When asked why Zan wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, he answered “I want to meet Mr. Buffett because he is someone that has helped shape my life, just as Benjamin Graham influenced his. Currently, the principles of Graham’s value investing are fading into the past, with few advocates leading its future. I hope to continue spreading financial literacy and investing discipline to emerging markets around the world, and Mr. Buffett can definitely help me progress along the correct path.”

Zan Zhang is the previous President & CEO (2009-11 of Investors of Tomorrow, Canada’s largest charity devoted to spreading financial literacy amongst youth, as well as the Queen’s University Investment Counsel, which invests a real-money portfolio of approximately $600,000 in equity markets. In the fall semester, he will be going on an academic exchange as part of his program to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. 

When Zan isn’t investing or learning about investing, he is playing the piano.  Zan was a music instructor and has also won awards for classical piano at the ARCT-Performance level. You can even listen to him play on his video.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWZAN.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Eric Tawney

September 6, 2011

What kind of kid starts a “Stock Market Club” in high school? Eric Tawney, a Finance and Economics student from Oakland University does. With such a young excitement for investing, it is no wonder that Eric is a huge fan of Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway. Eric discovered Business Wire college video contest when he was searching for a way to write a letter to Mr. Buffett because he wanted to share with him the impact he had on Eric’s decision to study finance and economics. With the chance to meet Mr. Buffett in person, Eric entered our contest and is now one of the top ten finalists with the winner to receive a trip to Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View Eric’s video here (1st one).

 
When asked why Eric wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, he answered “Mr. Buffett’s message for people to identify their passion and pursue it has resounded inside of me. I want the chance to speak with him about his life’s path; his successes and his failures and thank him for guiding me to pursue a career that I am absolutely passionate about. I would show Mr. Buffett that he has touched individual lives by speaking with him on how he played an integral part in my development growing up and how his life story became an inspiration for me to pursue investment management.”

Eric is current President of the Society for Applied Investing and Financial Education and also President of the Economic Students Association. In addition, he is a business scholar within Oakland’s School of Business Administration. In his free time, Eric volunteers his time tutoring and advising students on career planning and this past summer volunteered as a summer finance instructor at a Detroit intercity youth community center. Next up for Eric is getting his Masters in Public Policy or International Affairs.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWERIC.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Stephen Roegge

September 1, 2011

One google search on “How to meet Warren Buffett” was the beginning for our next finalist who is now one of the top ten finalists in Business Wire college video contest.  Stephen Roegge, a sophomore studying Business Administration at Georgia Tech, has always been a fan of Mr. Buffett and is even more so after he finished reading The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.  The winner of the contest will meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View Stephen’s video here (8th one).

When asked why Stephen wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, he answered “I want to meet Mr. Buffett because he is one of the smartest people in the world. He is seriously my #1 role model and getting to meet him would make me the happiest college student in the world.”

Stephen was born and raised in Alpharetta, Georgia and has a real love for Atlanta sports.  His favorite team is the Atlanta Hawks, but he is also a huge fan of the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves.

Stephen is still unsure what his future holds, but he knows it will involve business and investing as these are his main interests.  He hopes to have a job in the future that allows him to work hard and also allows him to make the world better.  Stephen feels Mr. Buffett is a great example of both and consider Mr. Buffett a major inspiration.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWSTEPHEN.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Shannon McGreal-Miller

August 31, 2011

It’s been said in order to see the future, you must look into the past.  Our next finalist for the Business Wire college video contest just did that.  Shannon McGreal-Miller, a junior from Michigan State University studying Marketing, used examples from Abraham Lincoln’s campaign where Mathew Brady took a photo of Mr. Lincoln to communicate with voters that Mr. Lincoln was not the wild man he was being portrayed as. It ultimately changed his image allowing him to win the election.  As a top ten finalist, Shannon may win a chance to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View her video here (7th video).


When asked why she wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, Shannon answered “If I was able to meet Mr. Buffett I would be honored to hear any advice he had for a determined, college-student who wants to make an impact on the world! Meeting Mr. Buffett would be like Mufasa showing Simba Pride Rock in Lion King: Epic!!”

Shannon has a real passion for her hometown, which is also her college town, and considers herself a Spartan fan to the core. She credits this to the wonderful people including Val Berryman, curator of history at the MSU Museum.  Shannon shares that prior to Mr. Berryman’s help she was planning on using spray paint and cardboard and is thankful to have Mr. Berryman as a resource.  She has received numerous emails from her MSU professors, including the chairman of her department, and even received a Lincoln mug from a fan.  Read her article in the MSU paper here.


Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWSHANNON.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Haley Lesavoy and “Bob”

August 30, 2011

Our next finalist for the Business Wire college video contest knew she wanted to go into broadcast news when she anchored for her middle school’s morning announcement show Serendipity Live.  Haley Lesavoy is a senior studying Journalism and Mass Communications at The George Washington University.   She created one of our top ten selected videos, where the winner will meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View Haley and Bob’s video here (2nd one).

When asked why Haley wants to meet Mr. Buffett, she answered “He is a figure who has been able to achieve success while maintaining an honest, humble and well respected reputation. Most importantly, he is someone who emphasizes the importance of passion and doing what you love.”

As a lover of broadcasting, Haley does what she loves.  Haley has worked for the school newspaper, television and radio stations and currently serves as Director of Productions for GWTV.  In addition, she is host of her own music countdown show, Select Seven. She is a two-time Gracie Award Winner, recipient of the Loreen Arbus Award at the 2010 College Emmy’s, has worked as a freelancer for Bloomberg News in New York, and this past year produced and served as an on-camera reporter for the Washington Post website.  Haley is currently contributing to the homeland security, terrorism, consumer safety, and aviation units at ABC News in Washington, D.C.  She hopes to one day host her own entertainment show.  You can view her work on her vimeo page including her college contest video outtakes.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWHALEY.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Jenna James

August 29, 2011

Next up is our signature artist Jenna James, a senior from Ball State University studying Telecommunications. With an assortment of sharpies and some loose pages of construction paper, Jenna brought to life her vision for the future of public relations and communications.  As one of our top ten finalists in the Business Wire college video contest, Jenna is one step closer  possibly winning a trip to New York city to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View her video  (4th video).

Jenna is no amateur to creating innovative videos.  Each year, the NAB Education Foundation holds a PSA contest asking students to highlight the importance of freedome of speech and this year Jenna was named first place in the television category.  View her PSA here.  Jenna enjoys making these type of videos because she loves sharing her opinions and inspiring others.

When asked why she wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, Jenna answered, “I would be honored to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Buffett—to get to know the man behind the empire and better understand his character. His generosity and humble nature are inspiring.”

A main goal in Jenna’s life is always being creative.  Whether it’s photography, film, painting or dance, she sees the importance for having an outlet for self expression.  In addition to art, Jenna loves to travel and considers one of the best times in her life when she studied abroad in London.  Two of her prized possessions are her ukulele Layla and her camera Eleanor.

Jenna’s favorite quote comes from Woodrow Wilson, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” She hopes to always remember this responsibility.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWJENNA.


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