After a successful career in broadcast journalism, Katie Couric is now making her own recordings at the helm of a media company that bears her name, Katie Couric Media. Former NBC News and CBS News host is reinventing the business model around content creation and storytelling, bringing selected value-driven brands as partners for everything from podcasts and celebrity interviews to lengthy documentaries and documentaries.
On Friday, Couric and her business partner (and husband) John Molner presented the company as a case study for Harvard Business School students in a course on corporate advertising. Starting with the selection of an initial customer, the students discussed partnership strategies, ad sales, content creation and distribution.
“During my career as a journalist, I’ve always focused on presenting facts to audiences,” Couric told Adweek. And while the network news business prefers news with a “strong political bias”, Couric, with her own company, enables them to “provide accurate, trustworthy and timely information on their own terms,” she said.
KCM was launched in 2017 and is an unconventional model for journalistic content. This is partly due to the crisis the news media has been through in recent years, and each month seems to be bringing more layoffs to the industry. Couric and Molner didn’t want to emulate a model that no longer worked, but they wanted to create compelling content that fulfilled KCM’s mission: “Arouse curiosity, stimulate conversation, stimulate action and move the world forward.”
To that end, they’ve partnered with purpose-built brands, from short video interviews to documentaries that span continents and cultures, to tell groundbreaking stories. Brands need to be well established and have resources to ensure high production value and high quality storytelling. You also need to be willing to take a back seat when creating stories, the founders explained – that’s Couric’s job.
“Every project we work on is guided by history,” said Molner. And while both Molner and Couric stressed that the specifics of each story idea are different, he noted that there needs to be an “authentic interface” between the brand and the story that KCM wants to do for a partnership to work.
The company’s goal is to combine the news icon’s passion for storytelling with a new trend that Couric has noticed in corporate branding: the commitment to social responsibility. The model has proven itself. It gives Couric space to follow the stories that her journalistic sense says are on the verge of going viral, and leverages the resources of the world’s largest brands to invest in the quality of production necessary to compete in today’s media environment is required. This also gives these brands a tangible opportunity to improve their commitment to their values while building their reputations.
“We have identified a unique opportunity to work with brands to develop meaningful editorial content,” said Molner. “Corporate social responsibility has become a marketing priority for Corporate America more than ever.”
The company has also worked successfully with some of the world’s largest brands including Ally, Procter & Gamble, Sleep Number, Merck, Walmart, H&R Block, Rallye, Google, Diageo, Athleta and Salesforce.
“Whether it’s producing informative and entertaining conversations, news, social media, digital videos or long documentaries, KCM works with brand partners to create purpose-built content that has a positive impact,” said Molner.
Over the past three years, KCM has built a social presence that has reached more than 5 million followers on various platforms. Couric’s daily newsletter, Wake-Up Call, launched in March 2019, is well on its way to triple its subscribers this year and hit the 1 million mark in 2021. And their fan base encompasses ages in a way that few media outlets do these days – including more than 32.3 million millennials, 24.2 million Gen Xers, and 31.1 million baby boomers.