The Trump tornado: threats, opportunities, and imperatives
Just like our icy sidewalks, winter 2017 is shaping up to be a slippery one as the Trump team storms into office. We can look forward to grandstanding and post-truth politics at their most virulent, as emotions and personal opinions seem to gain the upper hand over objective facts.
What do we stand to lose under this new style of politics? To what extent will we be affected by the decisions of the new controversy-loving president? And what if Trump’s methods drive certain attention-hungry organizations and brands to take a page from his playbook in a misguided attempt to achieve their ends?
A strange model
We hope that leaders will be able to resist the temptation to imitate the new commander-in-chief. How can you build trust relationships when deliberate lies and reckless statements become the new norm? Leaders—be they heads of state or corporate CEOs—should choose their words carefully and follow through on what they say. One can’t lash out at perceived adversaries without expecting to be paid back in kind. Indeed, denying troublesome facts and dismissing reporters who ask inconvenient questions is the kind of behaviour that we’d be inclined to call—in the words of Mr. T himself—“Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”
As we all now know, we can’t underestimate the influence of Trump and his acolytes. Their trashy brand of communications clearly has a lot of followers. The question remains: will it affect our profession? If so, who will stand up to companies that play the populist game? While we wait for an answer to this question, let’s reread our code of ethics.
The coming year will be a test for communications companies and their clients. We all must hold strong. Otherwise, as Meryl Streep said at last year’s Golden Globes, “We all lose.”
Removing the muzzle
Trump’s victory is the result of a large number of people feeling ignored by traditional politicians and the media. Who knows, maybe the Trump phenomenon will help purge us of political speak and political correctness!
As we all know, however, things are likely to remain a slippery slope for a while yet (winters are often long, as you know!). But maybe this instability can encourage us to be more careful and better informed, perhaps even more engaged and more involved in debates.
Let’s be optimistic for a moment. This is the opportunity for communications professionals to speak more openly, directly, and honestly—from the heart to the heart.
In 2017, it will be more important than ever to:
- Speak the truth
- Base your work on facts
- Have or be a credible and understanding spokesperson
- Really listen
In this pivotal year, vigilance and open-mindedness are the keys to success for communications professionals.