Surviving Donald Trump-What It Means for Media and Public Relations

by admin on January 11, 2017




We all need to rededicate ourselves to understanding and embracing the views of others.

We need to be the adults in the room.

We in the profession must stay above the fray


Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of supervising award-winning media relations, over fifty national and regional awards. Author, “Success With the Media.”


It’s rare for the aftermath of a presidential political campaign for emotions to be running this high, with expressions of utter disgust for an incoming president.

I’m neither pro or anti-Donald Trump; I did not vote for Donald or Hillary. I sat out this election for the first time in my voting life.

I’m a staunch believer that we in public and media relations have an obligation not to live in a news or social media bubble; we need to expose ourselves to all points of view if we are to make correct decisions. Like successful journalists (those who see things objectively), we in the profession must stay above the fray. Communicating effectively when half the population is entrenched in partisanship will be a major challenge moving forward.

I spent twenty-five years in government media relations in Washington, D.C., where you were expected to meet with someone from the far left in the morning and make sure that person felt heard and respected. The same applied to the representative from the far right you met that afternoon. My D.C. experience taught me that everyone has a legitimate point of view that needs to be understood and included. Successful media and public relations depended on it.

But with this election, inclusion is getting hard and that’s dangerous to our ability to see the landscape clearly.

Some Have Lost Their Minds

“Not my president,” is the current cry from those who cannot accept that Donald Trump is our next executive.

There is a difference between a political disagreement and what’s happening now. I recently did an Op-Ed for “The Hill” (newspaper devoted to the US Congress). It got 175 comments that were clearly partisan, but it was evident that the banter was similar to a football rivalry where little was intensely personal. Commentators seemed to enjoy the debate.

Nope. That’s not the case with Donald Trump. There seems to be little room for being agreeably disagreeable. Some hate Trump.

To be fair, supporters of Barack Obama also felt the sting of criticism after his election and they were pretty thinned-skinned about it. I told many that they won, and they should be gracious in victory. Their graciousness is over with Mr. Trump.

The current term used to criticize those aghast over a Trump presidency is “snowflake;” fragile creatures that just can’t accept that their candidate ran and lost.

Reading the remarks of the “snowflakes” via social media forums is difficult. They remind me of when my children were young and hopelessly self-centered. My children at times could not accept reality and rebelled against logic. Many of Trump’s detractors engage in elitist, sexist and class-related opinions that would have been appalling to them months earlier.

So What Do We in Media Relations Do?

We have to be very careful. We cannot be disrespectful of the views of anyone. We have to understand everyone.

Look, I get it that some intensely dislike Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t like many of his remarks on the campaign trail. I’m not smitten with some of his policies. But I am willing to accept him as my President and be supportive of him as warranted.

You would think that that’s how everyone would approach our new President.

The Adults in the Room

So it’s up to all of us in media and public relations to be the adults in the room. I’m using a term embraced by Michelle Obama who was recently interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on CBS.

Ms. Obama responded to criticism in the past by declaring that she had to be the adult in the room. She disliked unfair and intense disparagement but she rose above it.

We all need to rededicate ourselves to understanding and embracing the views of others. I’m not asking you take sides. But we need to hear all, understand all if we are going to make the correct decisions for our profession.

You may hate Donald Trump. You may love Donald Trump. But love or hate cannot interfere with our ability to correctly read the tea leaves and to keep everyone’s perspectives in mind.

We can’t effectively communicate without understanding all points of view.  We now need to be the adults in the room.

For more information on good organizational and media relations, see “Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization,” available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon at  Your reviews are appreciated.

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