Image courtesy of wikimedia

Five things a professional communicator wouldn’t do on the first day as White House Press Secretary

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s first press briefing was a case study example of how not to work with the media. Here are five things a professional communicator wouldn’t have done, especially on the first day in the role.

1) Making friends: build bridges not walls

Spicer spent around 80% of his first briefing rebuking the media, accusing them of ‘false reporting’ about the number of people in attendance at President Trump’s inauguration. Bearing in mind how divisive Trump’s campaign has been to date and the fact his personal popularity rating is as low as 32%, any professional communicator would instead have used the platform to begin to build relations with the media, not alienate them.

2) Lies, and damned lies

Spicer’s position was made even weaker by the fact media could easily corroborate their reporting with images, facts and figures. No decent public relations person would ever go public with data they couldn’t substantiate. Membership of a professional body means adherence to a code of conduct and therefore no lies or deception. If the government can’t be trusted to tell the truth about something that is so obviously in plain sight, how can it be trusted on critical policy issues?

3) Waste time on trivial matters

A good public relations practitioner would not have wanted to draw attention to the fact Trump drew small crowds to his inauguration, particularly in comparison with his predecessor. The opportunity to show decisive leadership on key policy matters was completely wasted and he actually drew more attention to the issue, rather than move the conversation on.

4) Not take questions

A critical media is an important part of a functioning democracy. Spicer refused to take questions from journalists signalling that the new administration will make used of owned and social media to communicate directly with the public. That’s all well and good but those in power need to be held to account. It’s propaganda not public relations.

5) Vision and purpose

Spicer missed the opportunity to set out the vision and purpose of the Trump administration and communicate a plan with key milestones. This should have been a fundamental part of the briefing. It’ll be interesting to see how the media respond next.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

Read Original Post

Sarah Hall

MD of Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd, a PR and marketing agency building profiles and profits.

Posted in Editor's Picks, Featured, Public Affairs, Public Relations
3 comments on “Five things a professional communicator wouldn’t do on the first day as White House Press Secretary
  1. Emmanuel Tortiv says:

    Looking at how erratic Trump could be, I am pretty sure if Spicer did anything less, he’d be fired before the end of the Press Briefing

  2. Claire Newell says:

    I completely agree; I was appalled at this display of arrogance. I’d also add 6. Don’t become the story and 7. Don’t presume to instruct the press on what they should be writing. Any decent communications professional should expect to never get another job after demonstrating such an utter lack of personal and professional integrity.

    • Claire Newell says:

      Obviously I meant ‘other’ rather than ‘decent’. A decent one wouldn’t have done such an awful job in the first place!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*