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Joking Your Way off the Hot Seat

December 4, 2009  
One way or another, the story was going to get out: a late-night talk show host, his rumored affairs with staff members and an alleged extortionist who wanted $2 million to keep quiet. So what did David Letterman do? Before anyone else had the chance, he told his studio audience—and the world—about the who, what, when, where and why of the case.

"It was a fairly hypnotic story, even if it was a bit tawdry," says Ben McConnell in a post at the Church of the Customer Blog. Importantly, though, the frank admission enabled the comedian to frame the narrative; he wasn't forced to spin someone else's version of the story.

"How the conversation goes ... in this Twitter-driven world ... is all part of natural selection," notes McConnell, "but Letterman certainly neutralized far worse rumor-mongering that could have quickly spiraled, jeopardizing his reputation, maybe even his job."

Unfortunately, CBS has been aggressive about removing the ten-minute segment from online outlets like YouTube—but the lessons learned from its content remain.

"By getting in front of the story, especially with self-effacing humor, Letterman saved a lot more face than he lost," says McConnell in a nice piece of Marketing Inspiration. "It's a pretty good way to go for anyone or any company about to be in the hot seat."


More Inspiration:
Paul Chaney: Mojitos As a Social Object
Mack Collier: Get Over It; We're All Content Channels Now
Paul Barsch: Of Risk Control and Thanksgiving Turkeys

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