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Hannah Vaughan Jones, News Anchor at CNN International and former Presenter at Sky News, joined Cicero for an exclusive ‘in conversation’ event discussing the secrets of TV newsrooms.

During the session, which was hosted on the morning of 20 October and chaired by Cicero Senior Counsel and former Sky News producer Kate McAndrew, Ms Vaughan Jones introduced the channel and its worldwide audience of over 350 million viewers, describing how business can drive the news agenda and advising delegates how to engage with TV news stations.

CNN features a number of bespoke news programmes across its worldwide studios, meaning that PRs need to ensure their pitches are well-suited to these shows to ensure they are relevant and topical, Ms Vaughan Jones stated.

The best guests on the show need to be enthusiastic, passionate about their company or subject matter and willing to talk around the discussion – guests coming on to highlight products or services must be willing to talk about industry trends and news stories of the day, she said, highlighting a recent interview with an Olympic athlete who had been looking to promote a book but who spoke at length in response to Russian doping allegations, which was one of the major issues of the day. Firms pitching stories should also look to “liven up” the news agenda, ensuring that their unique perspectives can help inform stories and provide fresh and interesting angles. Separately, guests always need to be aware that breaking news does happen and interviews can be scrapped at the last minute if significant news breaks.

To engage with CNN’s staff she recommended researching the writers and researchers of specific programmes that PRs are looking to target, but noted that organisations should also reach out directly to anchors and presenters, who are always looking to develop their book of industry contacts. Good energetic guests are always desired, she said, placing much more of an emphasis on a guest’s energy and knowledge than the size of their organisation.

Ms Vaughan Jones also noted one key piece of advice, saying that men should always go through make-up before appearing on camera so that the audience is not distracted by their appearance and can focus on the answers they provide.

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