David Letterman and His Smoldering Fire!


While some well respected public relations professionals say that the David Letterman-Sarah Palin episode is a good lesson in PR, both negative and positive, I think it’s a bit of a non issue. As a PR practitioner I can see where some professionals believe that David Letterman missed some steps, or crucial parts, of  issue/crisis response. But this is hardly a crisis! Maybe it is a mild issue to be dealt with quickly, but hardly a crisis!

The Crisis response steps/actions:

  1. Apology
  2. The problem has been resolved
  3. It is not going to happen again.
  4. Assurances that the problem has been fixed with corrective actions. Explain what corrective actions have been taken.

 As a PR professional the following is my take on the situation:

David Letterman does not need to do any of the above mentioned actions.  As a good gesture, David Letterman might want to mention on air that he has directed his staff not to write any more jokes of similar fashion. He might consider a short apology as well! But in doing so he might just be adding fuel to a very small fire.

This is a non issue, and definitely not a crisis. Actually, far from a crisis! I believe it will be back to business as usual rather soon. In two weeks, one month or one year, will this be an issue? Will it be remembered? I think not! Will the advertisers that say they are pulling out of his or other CBS shows stay out because “Dave” did not follow proper issue/crisis response procedures? Again, I think not!

I believe there is too much money to be made by all who rely on the David Letterman and the Late Show.  Not just advertisers, but everyone  that relies on the Late Show for their livelihood, or just a cheep laugh, all know what kind of comedian Dave is. They all know what kind of comedy is featured on the Late Show. In my opinion, and that of Dave, maybe the jokes were questionable, but not in such bad taste he had to apologies twice. He did so sincerely the first time, in true Mr. Letterman fashion.

As for Ms. Palin, apparently she has not got the lime-light bug out of her system. Any opportunity to get back in, is an opportunity she will take.

As a PR professional, if David Letterman was my client (I wish, I wish, I wish), I would advise him to keep kids, minors and young adults out of any future sexual jokes. But that is just common sense!

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