4 mistakes Trump is making and how you can use PR to avoid them
What do the phrases “an enemy of the people,” “the Opposition Party” and “bimbo” all have in common? President Donald J. Trump has used all of them when referring to journalists and major news outlets. Not exactly how one should handle media relations.
Like Trump, your company strives for media attention. However, it’s important to get it the right way. Although the news is currently dominated with the antics of the White House, you don’t have to emulate this behavior to get recognition. With help from a public relations agency, you can steer clear of these mistakes and become a media favorite.
- Berating the media.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.” In other words, getting into a war of words with journalists is a losing battle. They have far more experience, ammunition and authority.
President Trump and his staff have not taken this advice to heart. Press secretary Sean Spicer scolded reporters in the press corps over stories about inauguration crowd size, comparisons to former President Barack Obama and what he considered to be a lack of respect for Trump.
It’s vital to build positive relationships with members of the media. The more you help them do their job, the more favorable coverage you will receive.
- Putting questionable spokespersons out front.
In addition to criticizing the media, Spicer has displayed outright anger at them. Also, senior advisor Kellyanne Conway has threatened to discontinue relationships with reporters who ask embarrassing questions, like Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press,” who asked about Spicer and “provable falsehoods.”
Anyone who addresses the media on behalf of your company is the public face of your company. Therefore, if your spokesperson appears nervous, uninformed or incompetent, that’s how the public will see your company. Spokesperson training is essential for anyone who gives media interviews.
The Trump administration has misled reporters and the public with information that is instantly refutable. Using terms such as “alternate facts” and “provable falsehoods,” they are unwavering in their drive to tell their own story, even when what they want to say is untrue.
This kind of media communication is unprecedented, especially in Washington, D.C., where former President George W. Bush’s press secretary, Scott McClellan, was forced to resign simply for comments about the actions of senior White House officials. He explained that he was deliberately misled, but the White House booted him nonetheless.
Lying to the media is never wise. Even if the lie is small or unintentional, journalists will discover it. They are trained to investigate every detail of a story. When they realize you have lied to them, they’ll make you look much worse. You’ll find your company in a crisis that damages your brand and reputation.
- Denying media access.
To show its displeasure for various stories, the White House denied access to briefings to several major U.S. media outlets, including The New York Times, Politico and Los Angeles Times. However, it allowed smaller, lesser-known outlets like One America News Network and Breitbart to cover the events. This led to public battles with the White House Correspondents Association.
While you may never agree with journalists 100 percent, you need them for positive news coverage and increased visibility for your company. A great PR firm can help you strike the right balance.
Axia Public Relations specializes in media relations. Positive media coverage acts as a third-party endorsement for your company. With our help, you can make the most of it. For more, contact us or download our e-book Learn Media Relations from the Media.
Lisa Goldsberry is a senior blogger for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has worked for Axia since December 2013. Learn more about Lisa Goldsberry. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.
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