Diane Sawyer

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

In an ABC News piece not long ago entitled “Secret Donor,” Diane Sawyer told an absolutely charming and moving story about a Lake Forest College alumna named Grace Groner. Ms. Groner died in January at age 100 and left the College $7 million. According to Lake Forest’s President, the College never had a clue. For fundraisers, this is also a cautionary tale about over-reliance on traditional methods of screening, which depends on just what information is available, whether it’s helpful or not. Had Ms. Groner’s name passed through a traditional wealth screening process, the search would have drawn a blank.

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

In 2007, ABC News and Charles Gibson squeaked out a victory over Brian Williams on NBC. Both left Katie Couric of CBS a distant third. When Charles Gibson was a host on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” I liked his loosey-goosey, laid-back demeanor and obvious ease as an interviewer in front of the camera and bantering with Diane Sawyer. With the switch to ABC’s “World News Tonight,” where he replaced the urbane, upbeat Peter Jennings, Gibson seems to have purposely changed his “Good Morning America” persona. At first he became the kindly country doctor of my childhood—Hop Allison—who used to make house calls. Lately I

Just look at ABC and CBS Nov. 22, 2005: Vol. 1, Issue No. 50 IN THE NEWS NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams Pulls Ahead; Widens the Gap Over ABC TO 1.4 Million Viewers NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams had a big ratings win last week, topping ABC's "World News Tonight" by a 16% or +1.390 million viewers - representing the program's best advantage over ABC since the week of the Brokaw/Williams anchor transition (Nov. 29, 2004). --Matt Drudge, The Drudge Report, Nov. 17, 2005 I don't watch one evening news program on television. Rather, I use the remote

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