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The Strategy Room

Crisis Communication in the Trump Era

By: Mary Cobb

As a public relations firm with a specialization in media relations, it’s our responsibility to know the current state of the media. Our CEO, Peter Stanton, recently shared this expertise at the Campaigns Marketing Summit in response to the question:

“In the Trump era, is there a new crisis communications playbook?”

Peter shared in the discussion with fellow industry professionals and panelists, Richard S. Levick, David Fusucs, and Sue Zoldak.

Here are three takeaways from the conversation:

Social media has changed society.

The challenge lies within the new social media communication environment. Whatever is relayed on any social media platform is taken as fact and others begin to follow—whether further exploration of the claim (often by traditional media) later confirms the statement or not.

This challenge encompasses our President, who spends a great deal of time in a social media communication environment and we now obtain information that originated where fact is not necessarily the critical factor.

Social media has promoted a healthy democracy

The United States is a truly exceptional experiment, if you chose be an American optimist like Peter. He views the current discourse from a different perspective as a passion for democracy.

People suddenly have the tools to express themselves freely, dramatically, broadly. Our voices are amplified on social media like never before. While this may feel dysfunctional at times, it’s healthy. However, steps forward need to include making more management, civil, and less violent.

In crisis, turn to brand values

While avoidable in some cases, crisis in today’s world is inevitable. If your company finds itself entangled in one, focus on your brand values: Who are you as an organization? What do you believe in? What do you stand for?

Addressing key values and guiding principles shape the way you approach a crisis, and offer a strong delivery of fact – a key detail that we have lost in the Trump era.

Ultimately, the biggest tension we face in crisis communication is asking ourselves the question:

‘Do we communicate in the face of a negative?

It takes courage, but we invest a lot of time in advising clients to tell their story and tell it accurately, tell it forcefully, and to accept errors they are responsible for.

In the Trump era or any other, this sense of purpose and responsibility will always be relevant.




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