Kareem White has worked at ESPN for nine years and is currently a Talent Producer. Prior to joining ESPN, he worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Denver Broncos in the public relations/community relations departments. Kareem has a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and a master’s degree from Florida State University. Follow him on Twitter @KareemAWhite33
Sports PR: As a talent producer who books for all 27 ESPN studio shows, you are every PR pro’s favorite person. What does it take to build a good working relationship with someone in your position?
Kareem White: Good communication, transparency, and availability of the publicist and their clients. The ability to deliver on what has been offered up is also very important.
SPR: What will tank it?
KW: Lack of professionalism, inconsistency and being difficult to work with. We deal with live television so it is extremely important that every guest/client is on time. If a client or guest has a reputation of not being professional or being really difficult to deal with, it can very much become a deal breaker.
SPR: PR people think they have it bad. They are always under pressure to deliver, they work non-stop and putting out fires at all hours is the norm. But all those things apply to bookers as well. You’ve done both. Which side do you think has it worse?
KW: To be honest, it’s equally challenging for both parties. We deal with the same kinds of issues, just on different sides of the fence. We are kindred spirits and I can empathize with PR professionals because I’ve been there. We all have people we have to answer to under intense, time sensitive situations. Having a PR background is a blessing for me because it helps make my current job easier.
SPR: While you have people pitching you guests all the time, the people you want are often harder to get. What do you do to get a reluctant guest to say yes?
KW: I’m fortunate to have a really strong, reputable brand behind me. I also provide potential guests as much transparency as possible. Also timing and relationships are everything. I’m burying the lead here, but having strong relationships and fostering them over time is paramount.
SPR: For PR people out there pitching lesser-known talent, what does it take for you to give them a chance? What do you look for outside the big names?
KW: For lesser known or non-traditional guests or stories to appear on our shows/platforms, it needs to be a good fit for both sides, timely and newsworthy. The goal is to always make any guest booking a win-win situation and have everyone go home happy. For anyone pitching to us, it’s important to have all the relevant information in the initial pitch.