Communicating in The Age of Trump

By Rebecca Hamburg | Account Executive

The public relations and communications industry has undoubtedly been affected by the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States — specifically in defining partisan values in the public eye, and in communicating with new clients. It’s a new world to navigate and the question remains: How, exactly, do we as communications professionals communicate in “The Age of Trump”?

Last week, the Business Marketing Association of America hosted a panel discussion at The Wall Street Journal titled “Communicating in the Age of Trump.” Michael Maslansky of Maslansky + Partners and MSLGROUP’s very own North American CEO Ron Guirguis were the guest speakers.

“If you haven’t chosen a lane, then you aren’t going to be successful.”

This sentiment was echoed loud and clear throughout the whole discussion. Both Maslansky and Guirguis agreed that companies need to define their brands not just by their audiences and target demographics, but by their ethical standpoints as well.

This does not, however, mean companies need to or should alienate those who sit across the aisle. It is not beneficial to isolate those who voted differently. Both guest speakers agreed that “this isn’t about Trump versus Hillary anymore.” If you disagree, make sure it’s with a policy or general viewpoint; disagreeing or criticizing Donald Trump himself is futile and unnecessary. Regardless of how one might feel about our current President, remember to never make it personal; disagree with the administration as whole, not Trump himself.

“Pick your opportunities.”

When communicating in “The Age of Trump,” Guirguis argued that stating polarizing — albeit true — facts will just isolate and anger people. Instead, pick your opportunities, such as joining some kind of Presidential Advisory Board, which both speakers suggested doing. This participation will both grant access to vital information about the administration and bolster your company’s reputation.

“The communications industry is fundamentally the same.”

Guirguis instead argued that what has changed is the industry’s surroundings. And while President Trump can be quite inflammatory and hot-headed, it’s important for communications professionals to respond in a cool, calm, and collected manner. Disagree respectfully, and stay informed. Communicating in “The Age of Trump” is a challenge, but as long as we know how to respond, it’s possible to successfully navigate this new political climate as communications professionals.

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