With her latest book landing on The New York Times best seller list (#10 on the Advice and How-to list), Deborah Norville was out shilling for “Thank You Power” at a breakfast for members of The Accessories Council where she weighed in on Katie Couric’s public relations and ratings woes.
The Inside Edition anchor and Today show alum places the PR fiasco that Couric now finds herself in squarely at the feet of CBS.
“Change is destabilizing to television viewers. I believe CBS oversold the change in anchor. It did Katie a disservice, it did the news division a disservice,” says Norville.
“With any newscast, it’s about the story. Let’s not forget it’s about what happens in Baghdad, what happens in Kabul. It ain’t about the person who says, ‘And now so-and-so is going to tell you what happened…’ Too much hype about any anchor is never healthy for the product.”
Norville’s advice to the network and the naysayers: “All they need to do is leave it alone and leave Katie there. Viewers’ habits take time to develop. Katie was not an overnight success in the morning nor will she be in the evening. No one is.”
She points to ABC’s handling of replacing Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff with Charlie Gibson as textbook: “ABC has handled it beautifully. They had a very unfortunate situation with Bob’s (Woodruff) near death experience. They put Charlie in there — they probably should have done that in the beginning. Because of the misfortune that led to Charlie being put in that spot, it would have been unseemly to do any kind of promotion. He’s an incredibly gifted newsman. He really is involved in dictating the nuances, the focus and the direction of the mother ship. So I would say ABC has done everything right by doing everything low key. For God sakes, it’s television.”
“Millions are gonna watch without you doing anything. I’m a big believer in the power of personal recommendations — I’ve seen it happen with this book. It’s that word of mouth that is the most resonant whether you’re selling a television show or a book.”
— Diane Clehane