Public relations experts praise David Letterman on timing of exit from CBS’ ‘Late Show’
Editor’s note: David Letterman has announced that he’ll be retiring. One of the more fascinating aspects of this is the way it was handled in p.r. terms. Here’s a take on that via The PR News Channel:
“I think Dave wanted to bow out before he gets pushed out,” says Glenn Selig, founder of the national PR firm The Publicity Agency. ”I think Dave is smart enough to realize that it’s be best to exit before the narrative begins about him being the eldest of the late night hosts and stories begin about when he’ll be leaving or worse–when he’ll be pushed out. He’s exiting in a great spot. He handled it very well.”
Selig praised Letterman, who turns 67 next week, for getting in front of the story which would inevitably come. With Jay Leno’s recent exit from NBC’s ‘Tonight Show,’ Letterman’s late night competition are all relatively young: Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and Arsenio Hall. Selig says it was only a matter of time before the narrative would start.
This, of course, would not be the first time that Letterman has figured out how to spin the story well.
Who can forget 2009, when Letterman revealed the news of an extortion plot and a CBS News employee was trying to blackmail him. He did not wait for the story to leak. In his monologue, intertwining seriousness with humor, he admitted that he had had affairs with female employees. He was widely praised for his proactive approach and literally using his stage to explain what happened himself before it was done for him.
Yesterday, before a studio audience he broke work of his retirement:
“I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much,” Letterman said during a taping for the show in the afternoon and it quickly leaked out.
On Letterman’s retirement, in a statement, Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said: “When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us. For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our Network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium. During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events. He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes — including me.”
Cross-posted from The PR News Channel
SOURCE: The Publicity Agency