A handful of New Media pundits have been questioning the wisdom CBS had in hiring Katie Couric away from the Today Show to plant her in the anchor’s chair on the evening news. Granted, CBS is spending gobs of money they could be putting into other projects, but think about this:
With more unbundled media floating around, and snippets of audio and video being published in feeds, turning up in aggregators, and getting posted on other news sites, doesn’t it make sense to connect a familiar voice to your brand?
Imagine that you’re subscribed to a little video-news-update thing on your mobile phone. Do you want some unknown quantity spitting out the headlines at you, or would there be something comforting (and yes, a little dystopian) about Katie telling you what’s going on. Carry that idea over to any little audio/video services you might be subscribed to in the future. (Some of you already use this sort of thing.)
It’s one thing to say that blogs and podcasts have a certain amount of credibility just because of their authentic voices, but the more disconnected the individual pieces of mainstream mass media become from their networks/newspapers, the more important it will be to have a recognizable brand. Katie Couric gives CBS the familiar face they need.
Don’t think people still value a familiar face? Ask yourself why the Huffington Post has succeeded. Is it the medium, or is it the source?
(Disclaimer: I can’t stand Katie Couric, but I think my mom likes her alot. Funny how that works. Oh, and as far as her news credentials go — get postmodern people. This isn’t a news decision, this is a spectacle decision. Her image will get more people watching the evening news. I don’t care what network she’s on, there are millions of folks who don’t normally watch hard news that might do so now.)