Top 10 things David Letterman can teach us about content

From the home office in….

With David Letterman signing off, I thought a Top 10 list would be appropriate. Unfortunately, I don’t have Dave’s pull to get 10 celebrities to read these off for me…but here goes… drum roll please:

10) Don’t take yourself too seriously. One of the charming aspects of The Late Show (and Late Night before it) was Letterman’s self deprecating sense of humor. How can we incorporate that into the work we do?

9) Try new things. When Letterman came on the scene, especially in his early days, the bits he did were truly different, and forever changed the late-night landscape.

8) Have a great band. In the case of content marketing, I’m not talking about Paul and the CBS Orchestra. I’m talking about your writers or agencies that balance your content development and make it sing.

7) Know the news. Many of Dave’s monologue jokes tied into current events. You know I’m a believer in Newsjacking – Dave did it to get laughs, you can do it to get readers and build an audience.

6) Do lists… Dave’s Top 10s were a popular part of the show. And research shows lists get clicks.

5) Engage your audience. I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to see a taping of The Late Show (The Ed Sullivan Theatre is surprisingly small and cold, by the way). You need to wait in line a LONG time to get in, but during the wait, Dave has comedians and others “warm up” the crowd. He also engages his audience by having ordinary people and pets appear on the program. How can you engage your audience?

4) Don’t be safe, bland or boring. Particularly in his earlier work, Letterman did some wacky things. You, too can break the mold. Read this for more.

3) Look for the human element. Part of Dave’s appeal as a host was getting stars to come out of their shells – even for a short while – and give us a glimpse of their real lives.

2) He could tell a story. Many of his monologue jokes were told from a personal perspective about experiences he had. These can work in our content, too.

And… the number one thing David Letterman can teach us about content:

1) Everybody needs to learn about welding. See this clip Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 11.06.34 AMfrom his first show for context.

5/22 update: Great minds think alike… check out this post from PR Daily about what Dave can teach us about email marketing.