NBC’s smart counterprogramming to bad “Today” publicity

Overall, it’s a bad week for NBC’s “Today Show,” as Brian Stelter’s new book paints Matt Lauer and network executives in a (highly) negative light.

In fact, possibly the only person having a worse week in broadcasting is A.J. Clemente, who made his local news anchoring debut this week with an emphatic double profanity that immediately went wide on the Internet. He was fired the next morning.

How does bringing together two PR challenges add up to a big positive? When you do it the right way, and NBC did.

Knowing that interest was high and there was a small backlash of sympathy, they brought Clemente onto “Today” to explain what happened. He was pitch perfect… apologetic, non-defensive, and with a rational explanation of what happened (they came back from break early, he had no warning, and he was having trouble with some pronunciations in his first story). He apologized with good humor and grace, and he made Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie look good in their sympathy for him.

But the act of genius? They let him take them into the break with a preview of upcoming stories. It felt great… watch below.