Don’t be Trump in a Crisis
US President Donald Trump must be the most controversial and scandal-tarred president of all time. There have been alleged affairs with prostitutes, dubious tax schemes, the dismissal of top staff at the White House and of course he’s been accused of rigging the 2016 presidential election. While pretty much anything you throw at Trump seems to slide off him like water off a duck’s back, here are some crisis communication steps The Donald could have initially taken to prevent the escalation of each situation.
- Don’t attempt to mislead
This is the most important tip to keep in mind. It is always Trump’s misleading comments and misspoken words that land him in hot water. His mouth is both his most effective and most destructive tool. When facing a crisis situation, the media and the public want transparency and truthful statements. One little lie or confusing statement can destroy the trust the public has placed in you.
- Issue a statement and stick to it
Issue a clear statement that explains the situation and stick by it statement until further updates are available. This allows you to maintain the public’s trust. Having originally said that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election, Trump sought to quell mounting criticism by saying he accepted the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia sought to influence the election. He also said he misspoke at a news conference with Putin and that he meant to say he didn't have any reason to doubt Russia interfered in the election. Had there been a strong statement early on that Trump stuck to, the message would have been clear from the start.
- Be Proactive
Providing information before anyone requests it allows you to remain the authoritative figure. Trump has always been in reactive mode when any controversies have surfaced and he has childishly lashed out by attacking his accusers and the media. He uses his beloved Twitter account to vent his anger, in direct response to media or public outcry. Twitter is his greatest asset but he needs to use it more strategically to proactively communicate with the American people and keep them informed in a calm and dignified manner.
Alston & Clayden has helped multiple clients navigate through crisis situations. Get in touch to find out how we can help you to prepare for any eventuality.