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Jimmy Fallon: More Than Wit

Posted: November 21, 2014, 7:25 p.m.
by Mary Kathryn Woods.

Hey, hey, hey, hey! As public relations practitioners, we can do more than chuckle at NBC’s “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon — we can learn.

Jimmy FallonSince his debut on The Tonight Show in February 2014, comedian and talk show host Jimmy Fallon has taken late-night television by storm. After just two weeks in his role as host, NBC released Nielsen data revealing that “The Tonight Show” had “gathered 10.4 million total viewers during its first week,” which was the “biggest overall audience for the program since the last week that Johnny Carson hosted, in May 1992.”

Fallon’s witty, energetic approach to entertainment sends fans into fits of laughter. What’s the key to Fallon’s success? It could be his skillful use of public relations strategies that we can all take note of.

He knows the audience
As an entertainer, and public relations practitioner, it’s vital to know the ins and outs of your target audience. Fallon understands what gets his audience, and oftentimes himself, giggling. According to NPR’s Monkey See blog, “Fallon is considered the broadest comedy voice out there appealing to millennials — cool enough to create viral videos with The Roots, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke, but welcoming enough that 40- and 50-something Leno devotees need not feel excluded.”

Essentially, Fallon knows what’s up. He knows pop culture — the hip lingo, hot jams, trending topics and latest gossip. And he knows how to capitalize on these cultural characteristics to create compelling content that appeals to his audience.

The Official Tumblr of The Tonight Show

He’s a content king
We’re not the only ones who realize “content is king.” Fallon understands the popular trend we call content marketing, which by definition is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience.”

Whether Fallon is sounding off superlatives, impersonating celebrities, writing weekly thank you notes, challenging celebrities to games or performing musical numbers, he’s presenting his audience with humorous tidbits to enjoy and, most importantly, share. The hour-long show is broken up into more functional fragments of content and published to the show’s YouTube channel for those fans who don’t tune in routinely. These videos regularly receive millions of views and often are shared virally on social media.

He’s social
Not only does Fallon share and promote content on social media, but he also engages his audience on social media and incorporates it into “The Tonight Show.” Forbes notes that “Fallon GETS social media. He’s up on it, he follows it, he builds it into everything he does. But more importantly, he connects to an entirely new audience, selling the show for the next generation.”

For instance, if you’ve seen Fallon’s skit with Jonah Hill, “#Hashtag2,” you’re aware that he appreciates a good hashtag.

Fallon promotes a specific hashtag, such as #MyFamilyIsWeird, #AwkwardBreakup or #MomTexts, each week and encourages fans to share their thoughts using the hashtag. Then, during the show, he reads a few of his favorites. Additionally, Fallon uses #FallonTonight and #FallonMono to live-tweet throughout the show.

By aligning his remarkable talent with these familiar public relations tactics, Fallon has established a unique brand of comedy that brands and public relations practitioners can learn from. So, tune in to “The Tonight Show” starring Jimmy Fallon, and learn a little and laugh a lot.

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