Successful PR Agency gives Media Relations Lessons From Donald Trump
Monday, January 16th, 2017
on behalf of Holyrood Partnership
YOUR POSITIVE MEDIA PROFILE WILL RISE FAST WHEN WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN
WALLS. Big, high, imposing and impenetrable walls.
Just as Donald Trump takes office, it is walls that threaten to become the defining symbols of his presidency.
Notoriously, Trump promised to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Among the many jaw-dropping moments on the election trail, it was this Mexican wall rhetoric which will echo down the decades.
More recently, at a major press conference his personal attorney promised to build metaphorical wall between the President and his sprawling business interests.
Ultimately it may be the walls developing between the President and the media that will be the most lasting and perhaps the most damaging.
On the run-up to inauguration, Trump’s incoming White House Press Secretary warned the White House media that “business as usual” is over. That followed a troubling campaign which saw journalists mocked, treated with open hostility and often bypassed completely.
So, the incoming President’s eagerly awaited press conference on November 11 might have taken a more conciliatory and statesmanlike approach to the media.
Not so. The result was more like crass, car crash, watch-through-your-fingers, reality TV. Among the low points were when he branded CNN “fake news” and insisted BuzzFeed was a “failing pile of garbage”.
So what can your business take away from this? When it comes to dealing with the media, we’d strongly advise any business that they should build bridges – not walls. Here’s why:
1 – RELATIONSHIPS MATTER
In personal and business life relationships matter for most of us.
The same is true in the media. Of course, journalists, bloggers and the like are happy to run juicy, controversial stories.
But when the source of such stories also becomes a source of pain – by constantly flaming, challenging and badmouthing the journalist/news outlets – you’ll find that patience and goodwill soon wear thin.
However, if you build strong relationships then you can earn their trust. Building relationships means being available for journalists, responding quickly to their requests, dealing honestly, speaking plainly – and accepting that a journalist’s role in life isn’t simply to make you look good.
By behaving in the right way, you can become a voice and source they treat with respect and turn to often.
That can mean positive changes in frequency, prominence and tone of messages about you and your business – and those small changes can have a huge effect on your profile and reputation.
2 – BE IN IT FOR THE LONG-TERM
In every aspect of his life President Trump has proved an outlier.
He has survived in business despite repeated and serious questions about the legality and morality of many of his practices.
He has thrived on US TV – the most appearance-centric medium on the planet – despite his ill-fitting suits, clownish antics, orange colouring and bizarre hair.
He has achieved the unthinkable in politics, despite breaking virtually every taboo imaginable and campaigning with few credible policies.
For anybody else such antics would provide flash-bang impact – while proving fatally short-termist.
Unlike President Trump, most businesses need to take a long-term approach, whether nurturing suppliers, delighting customers – or dealing respectfully with the media.
Previous news reports about a business are researched and referenced whenever a new story is being reported. That means What you say and do today in media terms today can still affect and influence your profile and reputation 10 years from now.
Likewise, junior reporters and start-out bloggers of today are the editors and political influencers of the future.
Why have an army of influencers sharpening knives, when they could be sharpening glowing prose about your business instead?
3 – GET MORE SMOOTH THAN ROUGH
For a man who thrives on notoriety, President Trump often seems to display a remarkably thin skin. Criticism is rarely tolerated and often returned with venom.
For any business interested in cultivating a media profile, thicker skin is a must. Even what you think of as a positive story can become a negative when a journalist approaches it from a contrary viewpoint or different angle.
Remember, a journalist’s job isn’t to be your friend. Their job is to scratch the surface, ask awkward questions and present alternative opinions on any story or event.
As the old saying goes, you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.
However, with professional PR advice and help with both spotting your story opportunities and shaping the narrative, your business will find a happy place, where the number of positive stories far outweighs those which are less flattering.
Even the most highly regarded and respected businesses in Scotland and beyond accept that not every media story will be positive.
4 – READERS AREN’T STUPID
The Google search box may be the go to place for finding goods and services, meaning that search engines long ago supplanted the Yellow Pages.
Likewise, your customers may be well find and read news stories on Facebook rather than in the pages of a printed newspaper. However, some things never change – and potential customers generally need to hear about your company (or your product or service) between five and seven times before they will decide to do business with you.
That may be an ad on Google, a review on a website – but as often as not one of those ‘contact points’ for your potential clients or customers will be a positive story in the media.
Don’t forget, such stories go far beyond the pages and websites of news outlets. They will be shared on Facebook and Twitter, links will be shared by text, messaging apps and email.
Most importantly of all, readers may be a sceptical bunch, but they’re not daft. In a world of fake news they understandably don’t believe everything they read.
However, they also know that stories carried by bona fide news outlets – like The Scotsman, the BBC or the local weekly newspaper – come with a certain stamp of authority and reliability.
Don’t forget to check out the other insightful posts which are part of our Trump Survival Guide, on the PR lessons that savvy businesses can take from the new President
To Make Sure You Enjoy The Kind Of Positive Media Profile Your Business Deserves, Speak With Our Friendly Successful PR Agency Team.
We’d love the chance to chat with you about how powerful and focused public relations services could benefit your business.
We’re a friendly bunch and initial consultations are free. Getting in touch couldn’t be easier. Phone us on 0131 561 2244, or take a few seconds to fill out the simple form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you:
Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.
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