Rick Sanchez on CNN Doesn’t Just Report — He Listens

Rick Sanchez on CNN discussing Obama & BidenImage by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Marketers can learn a lot from Rick Sanchez, hosted of a daily news program on CNN. While I cast a few barbs at him yesterday, I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for how he goes about his job.

It all started yesterday when I was on a Delta flight yesterday catching his show for the first time. During the flight, I wrote a blog entry, “Rick Sanchez Brings Out the Best and Worst of Cross-Platform Journalism on CNN,” which I posted upon landing. While I praised how Rick and CNN are breaking new ground in very uncharted territory, I also was heavy on the criticism, both of how Rick runs his show and of the social media integration.

And yet, I’m sitting here in my Park City, Utah hotel totally enamored with him. Here’s how he did it:

  1. He listened. Rick read my blog. Whether he was doing this himself (which wouldn’t surprise me, despite his workload), or he has staff members monitoring the Web and reporting back to him (a perfectly effective use of resources – he shouldn’t be the only one at CNN doing this), he found my entry about him.
  2. He personally commented. He was gracious about it too, writing, “impressed with how you balanced your ideas on this. enjoyed the read, really.” He was the first one to comment, and while some of my feedback was harsh, he didn’t (outwardly) take it personally in the slightest. I guess his job requires thick skin, but he didn’t have to be so generous here.
  3. He publicly responded – on his blog and on TV. The first word I got about his response came from a friend and former coworker who told me he saw Rick mention me on the air. It’s easily the most high-profile mention this blog has received. As I searched for it, I noticed he wrote this up on his blog. You should read the whole post (though my head swells a bit reading it). Here’s an excerpt:
I know what we do here is a little different: using Twitter,
MySpace, and Facebook during a newscast. It’s more of a conversation,
and if, when you first watch, you’re left scratching your head, you’re
not alone.

Just ask David Berkowitz, a social media and marketing strategist.

He gives lectures all over the country on this topic, and he was
watching me on a plane recently. He was at the same time impressed and
annoyed by all the busy-ness going on.

Another great aspect of the blog is he received a couple dozen comments
there. While most were off-topic, he got some other responses as well.

One comment came from “Ruby Shuz,” who has a band and blog:

Berkowitz makes some interesting points, but it’s clear that he
half-watched one hour of your show if he thinks that a) you agree with
everything your guests say and b) that you air lame comments. It’s true
some people have less to say than others, but people are participating
and that’s the important thing.

“Ruby” is right. I did make some snap judgments, and I wasn’t entirely fair to Rick. Perhaps after a few more viewings, I’d have a different impression of Rick and his show.

More importantly, Rick managed to change my opinion of him the hard way – by taking the time to listen and respond to my comments, and to go above and beyond. He was authentic, personal, and immediately responsive, all important characteristics for any person or marketer determining how to respond to customer feedback.

Now, when I’m giving all those lectures Rick mentions, I’ll have a new way to illustrate how to approach social media. I’ll just tell everyone, “Do what Rick does.”

Update: The transcript of Rick’s program where he discusses my feedback is online at CNN.

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2 thoughts on “Rick Sanchez on CNN Doesn’t Just Report — He Listens

  1. kudos to both of you; to Rick for the immediate, collaborative response and to you, for the “mea culpa”.

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