Top 10 reasons why David Letterman did a great job of managing his crisis

10.) He was prompt
9.) He admitted fault
8.) He called his actions 'creepy'
7.) He made the announcement on national TV
6.) He apologized
5.) He used comedy, a powerful weapon, in an appropriate way
4.) He made clear he hadn't violated the workplace policies of either CBS or his own company
3.) He made clear that the timing of the workplace liaison predated his becoming married
2.) He was genuine in his remarks, and, drum roll please…………….

1.) He used the right platform at the right time and in the right way to convey the message

October 5 - david-letterman-heart-surgeryToo many CEOs balk at disclosing negative information. Or, they bumble their way through stiff, obviously rehearsed remarks. Or, they stop short of admitting fault and assuming responsibility. Or, they'll have a PR spokesperson handle the media on their behalf. Or, they'll let the lawyers control the message which ends up sounding like pure gibberish. Or, they'll bury their heads in the sand and hope to ride out the storm.

The Letterman story may have additional chapters before it ends. But, in my book, the man handled the image and reputation elements of the communications as well as I've ever seen.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, here's Paul Schaefer and the 'Late Night' Band playing, 'I'm a Man,' by Chicago.

9 thoughts on “Top 10 reasons why David Letterman did a great job of managing his crisis

  1. Excellent point, Robert. Authenticity is intrinsic to crisis communications. I agree that Letterman delivered the right message at the right time.

  2. His approach worked because he did not worry about speaking to everybody and focused his message towards his viewers. This enabled him to be AUTHENTIC and consistent with the story he has been telling for the past 27 years.

  3. Nothing to do with the post, just wanted to congratulate you on a great cycling weekend in support of Breast Cancer Research. The wife told us you were 6th this weekend while we were at the gym yesterday. That is awesome.

  4. Whoa, Greg. Way to be blunt. As for Julie’s comment, I don’t know how sympathetic people feel for him, but they appreciate his honesty. Plus, he’s funny.

  5. Totally agree with RepMan; Dave handled this crisis brilliantly. Instead of trying to cover up his behavior, he disarmed the extortionist by taking control of the situation (and of the message and how it was disseminated). He got in front of the story and is now seen by his fans as a sympathetic character in need of their loyalty during a difficult time.

  6. Agree with you, Lunch. Leno’s new show is just recycled material from The old Leno show. Letterman’s stuff is just as dated, but he’s sharper edged and more fun to watch. Unless there’s some other revelation to follow, this crisis will do just what you suggest: boost his ratings.

  7. what’s bad for dave’s reputation is good for ratings. watch him own leno moving forward…(that is if he keeps his job through all of this, which he should).