Turning the Tables on Russell Sherman: Celebrating International Podcast Day with the Host of Press Profiles
What’s the story behind the people who report on today’s biggest stories? Prosek’s own Russell Sherman is on a mission to find out.
On top of his day job as Partner at the firm, Russell hosts “Press Profiles,” a podcast featuring his conversations with the most influential names in business news journalism today. For each episode, Russell “turns the table” on his guests, asking them to share their memorable career moments, their insights into the current business news landscape, and more—and he brings listeners along for the journey.
We sat down with Russell to “turn the tables” back on him and hear about how it’s going, what he’s learned so far, and what it’s like to interview the interviewers. Here’s what he had to say:
What inspired you to start "Press Profiles?"
I have always been interested in the person behind the byline. There is an old saying, “interested people are interesting.” Journalists, by their nature, are very inquisitive and interested people. I thought if we could turn the tables and ask them questions about their background, experiences, and approach, it would produce interesting conversations. So far, I think that has proven to be the case.
Why did you decide to create a podcast instead of, say, a blog or a series on TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram?
My goal is to give the audience a deep understanding of the guests and how they approach their job, but also their personalities, and I think a podcast is a great way to do that. When you hear a guest’s voice and inflections, you can really connect to them as a person. I want the listeners to feel like they are a fly on the wall of a fun and light, but also informative, exchange. To me, a podcast is the perfect format for bringing that to life.
As a former reporter yourself, how does your experience inform the questions you ask and the way that you conduct interviews?
I think I learned early on as a reporter the importance of being a good listener. I like to do a lot of preparation and research for each podcast episode so that I can discover interesting information beforehand and ask informed questions. But preparation is only part of the equation; when it comes to interviewing, you really need to be ready at any moment to go off script and adjust on-the-fly based on what you are hearing and learning. I believe that, at the end of the day, that approach and willingness to pivot is the best way to produce a great conversation.
Throughout your career, you’ve gotten to know most – if not all – of the reporters you’ve interviewed pretty well. So, what’s a story that genuinely surprised you?
I have learned a lot from each person. Everyone is refreshingly candid and has great stories to tell. Whether it was hearing how David Westin helped build ABC News before assuming the anchor desk at Bloomberg, or listening to CNBC’s David Faber tell the story of trying out for the host of Jeopardy!, or Alex Lieberman walking me through the process of starting the Morning Brew newsletter as a student at the University of Michigan, there have been dozens of interesting, surprising, and exciting stories told on the podcast so far.
What kind of insight does the podcast offer to those who are early in their journalism or PR careers? What about those who are in a mid or later stage of their careers?
We have a broad audience and I think everyone comes away from an episode with something a little different. Communications and Marketing executives interact with the media every day, and I like to think that “Press Profiles” offers them an unique way to get a better sense of how to make the most of those interactions. C-suite executives understand a little bit more about the people who are interviewing them. Fellow journalists love hearing about their colleagues, and aspiring journalists receive a bit of a master class on how to break in, persevere, and succeed as a reporter.
In the episode with Yahoo Finance’s Editor-in-Chief, Andy Serwer, you and Andy reminisce on the early days of Wall Street reporting, particularly in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In a few sentences, how would you describe the evolution of financial news gathering and coverage? What’s changed?
I think the speed of everything has changed. We used to send faxes. Stories would develop over several days. There was a single point in the day or week when an outlet would release their news. Now, news is constant. Everyone with a Twitter handle is a reporter and the news cycle passes in the blink of an eye. I think that, as a result, many stories end up being less impactful than they should be because they are washed over in a nano-second by a flood of other coverage. On the flip side, our current media landscape also allows everyone to have access to much more news and information than ever before.
If you had to describe Press Profiles in 3 words to someone who’s never listened (yet!), what would those be?
I think our tagline sums it up pretty well: “What’s their story?” Getting to know the journalists gives us all a greater understanding and appreciation of the important work they do.
Where to Listen to “Press Profiles” with Russell Sherman: