PR Case Study: Don't Anger Comedians
When I was undergraduate, we looked at a few case studies in a public relations course I took with Dr. Mac at NMSU. It seemed that when you looked at 60 Minutes ambushing a CEO, there was almost no way to look good.
However, when you expect to get grilled by a CBS program, you do not expect to get grilled by David Letterman.
This happened to Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain when he canceled his Letterman appearance purportedly to head back to Washington to discuss the Wall Street bailout.
As you can see, that angered Letterman, who felt that a vice presidential candidate should be able to step in.
However, when Letterman found out that McCain did not head back to Washington and instead was in a different CBS studio, taping an interview with Katie Couric. Letterman's jest toward McCain turned far more pointed.
It shows that comics who usually use their sharp wits can be more acerbic when they feel it is appropriate.
One has to wonder whether Letterman's widely reported rant is part of the reason the democratic candidate Barack Obama holds a large 8 percentage point lead (50% to 42%) according to Gallup's latest three-day tracking poll.
No matter how this election turns out, I think that "campaign suspension" decision and related handling of the press will be taught as a PR case study one day.