Curry Departure No Easy Task for NBC

Every year since 1997, thousands of people have started their day with Ann Curry, Matt Lauer and the gang on Today.  

But by the end of this week, according to reports, Curry will no longer be on the flagship morning show. Her exit has taken on a life of its own and has left NBC faced with having to manage this distraction—which some say has been expected for months.

The Associated Press reports that Curry is going to take the fall for the recent plunge Today has seen in ratings, allowing ABC’s Good Morning America to take the No. 1 spot. It had been a spot that NBC had owned for the past 16 years.

So now, as ratings are dwindling, one of the faces of the network will be gone. Her replacement aside, what does this mean for the PR pros at NBC? There are more questions than answers right now when it comes to Curry’s imminent departure. And while Curry’s journalism style may not have been the best fit for Today, she still has a large fan base that enjoys her presence. How will NBC respond to the negative reaction from those loyal to her?

It’s a tough situation for NBC’s communications department as they are preparing for Curry to leave, the potential hiring of a replacement and the damage control that they may have to do. A plan of action must be in place for all three scenarios.  And after its handling of Conan O’Brien’s exit from the network, can they take what was learned from that high-profile exit and apply it now?

Curry has not publicly weighed in on her situation and NBC has not commented on the $10 million settlement that the New York Post reported. And despite the elephant in the room, Curry has still come to work knowing the end is near. Now it’s up to NBC’s PR pros to make sure they’re handling the situation in proper fashion.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson