Three Easy Communications Tips to Use During the Trump Admin
January 20, 2017
By Connie Partoyan | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”
“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”
“Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean.”
These are just a few of the tweets directed at U.S. companies fired off by President-elect Donald Trump in recent weeks. As The Washington Post recently noted, tweets of this nature have “stoked anxiety, moved markets and altered plans.” Even tweets from Trump expressing support for a company can have negative ramifications. In the case of L.L. Bean, many are now calling for a boycott.
For better or worse, this is the new reality in which the country’s businesses find themselves operating. Instead of issuing carefully crafted statements, President-elect Trump frequently takes to Twitter to establish and amplify his policy positions.
Such a drastic departure from traditional protocol requires new thinking from the companies that could one day be the focus of such tweets. Business leaders, and those tasked with advising them, simply cannot afford to sit back and hope not to draw the president-elect’s ire. Rather, corporate reputation and brand integrity depend on being prepared for these occurrences.
How should companies and public relations professionals navigate these uncharted waters?
Get out ahead of any tweets from @realDonaldTrump by being proactive. We all know that the #1 priority of the incoming administration is to promote job creation here in the U.S., so seek to highlight your efforts in this area. Share and promote news that shows your company is committed to creating jobs and investing in the U.S. economy. Amazon and Wal-Mart have done this well in the past few weeks. It’s not a sure-fire defense against being targeted by @realDonaldTrump (is anything?) and may result in a backlash (see L.L. Bean), but being proactive is always a good place to start.
Tell a compelling story
If @realDonaldTrump does happen to put your company in his crosshairs, quickly bring forward a compelling narrative and accompanying proof points that clearly articulate your positions on the issue. Boost the positive aspects of your story with specific examples that the public can easily understand – refer to the jobs-related coverage of Amazon and Wal-Mart for good examples here — and blunt anything that could be perceived as negative by setting the record straight with facts. It also helps to identify and activate allies who can offer third-party validation for your company or brand via traditional or social media.
Direct Impact has worked closely with multiple clients on Rapid Response programs to track and respond to media coverage resulting from the president-elect’s tweets and statements. This involves analyzing stories in real time, responding to false allegations and correcting inaccurate coverage. Responding in real-time to tweets and subsequent news coverage not only allows your team to stay on top of the issue, but it shows the public – and perhaps even Trump himself – that you care about how your company is being portrayed. Believe it or not, that alone can go a long way in shaping opinion.
It remains unclear whether Trump intends to continue his use of Twitter at the same pace once he takes office. But it would behoove all companies to establish a clear plan of action should the president-elect continue tweeting after he is sworn in as our 45th president.