Having spent my last 25 years working in major international advertising agencies and marketing companies globally and working with many of the Top 100 Global brands – I have been puzzled by the roles both Communication Directors and Press Secretary’s have played in recent White House offices.
In fact, neither White House role is something I have seen ever or totally understood. Even though I have worked on many major Financial Services Companies, Telecommunication companies, Automotive, Real Estate, FMCG’s, Digital and Entertainment Companies in the US, Taiwan, Australia, UK, New Zealand to name some. And, I have worked with and for many of the best of businesses elite Communication Directors over the past couple of decades.
But, having watched The Apprentice over the years, and read ‘Trump: The Art of the Deal ‘ – it highlights the major new broom is sweeping through old school US Politics and the Washington DC swamp culture today. My background also gives me the insights which allows me to critique today’s White House Communications Director roles
So, here is my take. The key points anyone on Donald Trump’s White House team and staff must understand – especially, the Communications Director, Chief of Staff and Press Secretary follow.
Note: Hope Hicks is Trump’s new interim White House Communications Director.
They are also the key points extracted from Donald Trump’s book, Art of the Deal book penned in 1987 and repeatedly highlighted in his award-winning TV series – The Apprentice. (Created by British-born American television producer Mark Burnett.)
Trump’s 11-step formula for business success steps are:
- Think big
- Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself
- Maximize your options
- Know your market
- Use your leverage
- Enhance your location
- Get the word out
- Fight back
- Deliver the goods
- Contain the costs AND…
- Have fun
Bottom-line – when you watched, week after week, The Apprentice TV Series, Trump didn’t accept being fine or good. He insisted on being excellent and outstanding. And, everyone has repeatedly watched for 14 seasons between January 2004 -2017.
In the recent case of Anthony Scaramucci, aka The Mooch, was removed from his office unceremoniously after only ten days.
But, having never personally had to report to a former US marine. E.g. General John Kelly – whom President Donald Trump only appointed less that six hours earlier as, Chief of Staff for U.S. President Donald Trump – I suppose it make it a little more palatable.
(left to right: Anthony Scaramucci and White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly)
But, I am unsure if the Chief of Staff has the basic understanding of how the most successful Global Brand Marketing Companies consider when looking at the roles of their top Communications Directors.
Hint: Stopping the ‘leaks’ generally isn’t the priority and he wasn’t even leveraging his position or thinking BIG ENOUGH.
Historically, the position of White House Communications Director has been given to a senior public relations staff member from the candidate’s campaign staff.
Often this is either the deputy campaign manager or the campaign communications director. The communications director works closely with the White House Press Secretary, who is typically a co-worker in the President’s campaign.
Key Responsibilities of Communications Directors in White House:
- The President’s voice and vision must be understood. The communications director ensures that all aspects of communications are covered to ensure that the administration’s message has been delivered clearly and successfully.
- A communications strategy must be devised to promote the president’s agenda throughout all media outlets. This can include, but certainly is not limited to, the State of the Union address, televised press conferences, statements to the press, and radio addresses.
- The communications office also works closely with cabinet-level departments and other executive agencies in order to create a coherent strategy, through which the president’s message can be disseminated.
- With the growing importance of the internet and new media in terms of presidential communication, the communications office has branched out to utilize the internet, and more specifically social media sites such as: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. in order to reach out and convey the President’s vision to a larger percentage of the public. Additionally, I think Trump is terrific, compelling and using his rally’s to galvanize his fans and base! (Loving Kayleigh McEnany news of the week from Trump Tower in New York too! )
My observations on Traditional Brand or Service Communication Directors Role and Responsibilities:
- A Director of Communications is responsible for managing and directing an organization’s internal AND external communications.
- Directors of Communications supervise public relations staff, create communication strategies, and may serve as the key spokesperson and media contact for the organization.
- Corporate communications departments play a key role in how investors, employees and the general public perceive a company. They often report directly to a company’s chief executive officer and serve as advisers in managing a company’s reputation.
- The communication department plays a crucial role in an organization’s success, raising the market value by up to approximately 30 percent
- Never once over my 25 years have I heard one of the main business objectives is to stop the leaks! Sad but true! Sorry, Mooch – never heard this on my watch before or had to fend off RINOs either.
I believe an effective communications department should handle both internal and external communications. Having an internal communications department does not exclude other departments from developing effective communication procedures. Good communication requires effort from all parties involved.
Corporate communication includes advertising, media planning/buying, marketing communications, marketing, public relations, and digital marketing but they all function under a managed perspective.
Objectives” of strategic communication:
- Build strong business relationships
- Internal and external co-ordination
- Build and maintains the brand image of the company
- Give competitive advantage to the organization
- Difference between primary and secondary communication – dilution
- Ranking of corporate communicator in the hierarchy of the matrix
- All organizations suffer from entropy – a loss of energy leading to disorder or chaos
- Each department controls their focus of communication differently
Key learnings from this article:
- The President or CEO MUST maintain the role of strategic communicator throughout the organization or country/world.
- The secondary messages generated through various departments should reinforce the primary strategic messages intended by the board
- If departments stray off the primary messages, the President or CEO should get to know about it through the communications structure
- Corporate messages should flow through the organization without being distorted
- The Corporate communicator (Director) should help President of CEO project a holistic view throughout the country and/or company
- Should guide employees, customers, shareholders, regulators and others into proper view of the company and its mission.
- My next article, I will continue on this theme and explore how the White House should focus more on creating content directly for the people rather than responding to the ‘news of the days’ by the Mainstream News Media Networks (e.g. CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Washington Post, New York Times, etc) or others created.
I will also explore the key topic’s former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci (The Mooch) was going to potentially implement into the Trump White House. E.g. Improving the Culture, stopping leaks and internal game playing, the role Communications must play in 2017 and beyond with Customer Service, Making the news and setting the media agenda, filling the content void and more.
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