Crisis Plan If Trump Attacks Your Brand

Editor’s Note:  This is the second in a three-part video commentary series by Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media.  Doug takes a deep dive into the strategic communications issues tied to the Presidential transition of power.  In Part I, Doug’s focus is Obamacare.  In Part II,  Doug discusses the impact of Trump’s use of Twitter in his campaign and transition into the White House. In Part III, Doug talks about the need to be proactive when your brand is under attack.


Individual corporations are being singled out for criticism by Donald Trump. Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media, says if you need to activate your crisis plan, it’s too late. 

What should you do?

Don’t take him on. You can’t match his firepower.

You need to be proactive.

Be more ambitious in and how you’re approaching the media, telling more compelling stories to different audiences so you have a strong base.

You need to get out in front of potential issues or you’re going to be fighting with a very weak crisis communications plan.

New York Times article that covered key point to put a crisis plan together.

Video Transcript:

Individual corporations are in the sights of Donald Trump. What should you be doing? I’m Doug Simon, CEO of DS Simon Media with some advice. I recently read a New York Times article that spoke with crisis communicators and covered key points to put a crisis plan together. Guess what? If you need to activate a crisis plan, it’s too late. You don’t have the firepower to compete with the Trump machine. And you won’t. It’s only going to get stronger. So what should you do? You need to be proactive. What does that mean? Don’t take him on, but build relationships with media and key influencers. Get your story out.

Be more ambitious in and how you’re approaching the media, telling more compelling stories to different audiences so you have a strong base. One often forgotten approach– establish your experts. They’re more likely to help you earn media than relying on third-party spokesperson. That was from our recent media survey that we conducted. Very interesting. So you have to be proactive. The good news, from my standpoint, is that’s going to be very good for our business, helping organizations get their messages out. It’s important you do it right away, or you’re going to be fighting with a very weak crisis communications plan.



Trump: Opportunity Lost

virgil.featuredBy Virgil Scudder, President, Virgil Scudder & Associates

If you’re a Trump supporter who believes that America is in dire shape and that Trump can fix the problems, you probably liked the new president’s inaugural address.  Few others, however, are likely to find it comforting or uplifting.  Isolationist in tone, it was more a campaign stump speech than the show of leadership and vision that could help unite an angry and divided nation.  In short, it was divisive.

There was no reaching out to non-Trump supporters, foreign leaders, business, or the media.  Suppose you were a government official sitting in Berlin, Beijing, Paris, Mexico City, Brussels, Tehran, or Tel Aviv: how would you react to these words?: “A new vision will govern our land—only America first!”  That’s hardly comforting to our friends, allies, and trade partners, whose friendship and cooperation he will need.

(Photo Source: Twitter)

(Photo Source: Twitter)

The incoming president presented a dreary picture of the U.S. today, citing crime gangs, drug epidemics, the economy, the state of education, and “the sad depletion of our military.”  Many of his points, just as in the campaign, were at odds with the facts.  For one, the economy continues to improve.  The housing industry is booming and auto sales are on the rise.  Once again, Trump ignored the admonition of the late Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) who said “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.”

He insulted members of Congress and former presidents seated in the audience.  Trump spoke of “returning government to the people,” a slap in the face to all who now serve or have recently served.  He can expect some payback for that, especially when he wants to get a bill through Congress that could give representatives problems on the home front.  Members of the House are constantly aware that they face election every two years and that one or two unpopular issues can bring any one of them down.  Ask Eric Cantor.

And, just as in the campaign, he made promises that will be very hard to keep such as, “We will eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth.”  Easy to say; not so easy to do.  The same is true with promises to bring back manufacturing jobs.  Even a tough, no-nonsense president can’t stop job loss caused by globalization or technology.

And, even though he stayed on script, the new president couldn’t resist a bit of hyperbole: “This is an historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.”  Talk about over-reach!

As I said in yesterday’s CommPRO posting, it’s one thing to win an election and another to govern successfully.  President Trump will need the trust, help, and good will of a lot of people here and around the world if he is to succeed.  This was not a good start.


About the Author: Often referred to as “The Dean of Media Trainers,” Virgil is considered one of the world’s foremost communication experts.  In a 30-year career that has covered 26 countries on five continents, he has provided coaching and counsel to heads of some of the world’s largest corporations and government leaders. Virgil is a prolific writer and speaker.  His book, World Class Communication: how great CEOs win with the public, shareholders, employees, and the media, written with his son Ken, was named one of the 25 best business books of 2012.  His column, In the C-Suite, appears in every quarterly issue of the Public Relations Strategist and is read by leaders of major public relations agencies and global heads of public relations of large companies. He has written or been featured in articles that have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Reuters, Investors Business Daily, and numerous professional publications.  Two of his speeches have been reprinted in the prestigious Vital Speeches of the Day. Prior to founding Virgil Scudder & Associates in 1990, Virgil headed the media training units of two of the world’s largest public relations firms, Hill & Knowlton and Carl Byoir & Associates.  Earlier, he was an award-winning news broadcaster at major radio and television networks and stations in New York City.  He was a first-night Broadway drama critic for six years during that period, broadcasting reviews on NBC’s all-news radio network and all-news WINS radio.  


Trump’s Big Test

virgil.featuredBy Virgil Scudder, President, Virgil Scudder & Associates

It’s one thing to win an election; it’s quite another to govern successfully.  Just ask Jimmy Carter.  Donald Trump’s inaugural address will play an important role in the early success or failure of his presidency.

This will likely be the most closely watched inaugural speech in history.  It will receive as much interest and scrutiny in Beijing and Berlin as it does in New York and New Mexico.

What tone will he strike?  What policies will he lay out?  Which of his many conflicting positions will find their way into this critical address?  Will he stay on script or wander off to settle some personal score?

Presidents are not kings.  As President Obama can readily attest, the leader’s success rate is greatly affected by the trust and cooperation of members of Congress, foreign leaders, and the general public.  At this point, all have varying levels of apprehension about the new president and what he plans to do.  He has tons of reassuring to do.

Trump’s Big TestHis most important task will be to convince the general public that he is capable of handling the office and that he will be a leader for all Americans.  That’s a huge job given the ugliness of his campaign and his snarky and childish tweets that have followed.  He’s a minority president in terms of the popular vote, one who is facing big public demonstrations prompted by anger at the Russian interference in the election, the unbalanced workings of the Electoral College, his refusal to come forward with his tax returns, and his statements about women and minorities.

So, he first needs to reach out to the American public, especially minority communities, assuring them that there will be no mass deportations, no witch hunts, and no bias against any particular group or religion.  He must assure all Americans that he will study issues carefully, seek expert advice, and take firm action only after careful consideration of the consequences.

This is a dicey assignment.  He has to satisfy his base, which includes a radical hard core that wants him to take drastic actions immediately.  But he will be challenged to do it without frightening everybody else and alienating people in Congress and elsewhere whose support he will need.

Another key audience is foreign leaders.  Trump needs to send the message that, while he plans to renegotiate certain agreements and will be a tough negotiator, he will not upset the world order in terms of economics or defense.  There is a lot of work to be done here.

He’ll need to extend an olive branch to the mainstream news media.  Even though attacks on the media have resulted in a low level of public trust in the fourth estate, they will remain a powerful force, one that can have an important influence on the success of his programs, especially in Congress.

The business community is another group he’ll need to reach.  While many are delighted that he plans to reduce regulations and environmental rules, they are also wary of his bullying tactics that could force them to make un-economic decisions.  Particularly concerned are those in the automotive, retail, and pharmaceutical industries.

Most of all, Trump needs to build a general level of trust.  Without it, it’s going to be a tough four years for the White House, the country, and the world.  What he says in the inaugural address is an opportunity to get his tenure off on the right foot.  But, he has to be very careful that what he says doesn’t make a bad situation worse.  A nervous nation and world will be watching.

About the Author: Often referred to as “The Dean of Media Trainers,” Virgil is considered one of the world’s foremost communication experts.  In a 30-year career that has covered 26 countries on five continents, he has provided coaching and counsel to heads of some of the world’s largest corporations and government leaders. Virgil is a prolific writer and speaker.  His book, World Class Communication: how great CEOs win with the public, shareholders, employees, and the media, written with his son Ken, was named one of the 25 best business books of 2012.  His column, In the C-Suite, appears in every quarterly issue of the Public Relations Strategist and is read by leaders of major public relations agencies and global heads of public relations of large companies. He has written or been featured in articles that have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Reuters, Investors Business Daily, and numerous professional publications.  Two of his speeches have been reprinted in the prestigious Vital Speeches of the Day. Prior to founding Virgil Scudder & Associates in 1990, Virgil headed the media training units of two of the world’s largest public relations firms, Hill & Knowlton and Carl Byoir & Associates.  Earlier, he was an award-winning news broadcaster at major radio and television networks and stations in New York City.  He was a first-night Broadway drama critic for six years during that period, broadcasting reviews on NBC’s all-news radio network and all-news WINS radio.  

Trump’s Twitter: Nothing To Rant About

Editor’s Note:  This is the second in a three-part video commentary series by Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media.  Doug takes a deep dive into the strategic communications issues tied to the Presidential transition of power.  In Part I, Doug’s focus is Obamacare.  In Part II,  Doug discusses the impact of Trump’s use of Twitter in his campaign and transition into the White House.


It’s not the medium. It’s the message. Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media says if you don’t like Trump, it’s dumb politics and dumb journalism to rant about his Twitter use. He’s got history on his side.

FDR was criticized for using radio and then hailed as a genius.

JFK and Reagan used television to great advantage.

Obama used social media to reach millennials.

“If you don’t like Donald Trump, praise Twitter. But bury him for the content and meaning of his messages and actions.”

From the archive: Will Trump’s PR Advantages pave the way for him to the White House? That’s the question Doug Simon asked on May 4, 2016. Guess the Clinton campaign didn’t take his advice.

Video Transcript:

Doug Simon: Stop complaining about Donald Trump and Twitter. I’m Doug Simon of DS Simon Media. And both the media and anti-Trumpers are really bent out of shape about his use of Twitter. And it’s a distraction. Want controversy? FDR, when he started using radio to deliver his message directly to the public. Later, he was hailed as a genius for mastering this medium. JFK and Ronald Reagan both mastered television to great advantage.

Doug: More recently, President Obama used social media to target millennials effectively. So what’s the problem? And why the double Trump standard for his use of Twitter? It’s dumb politics, and it’s dumb journalism. It actually gives Trump a very effective response if you don’t agree with something he’s saying or doing. He can easily parry the criticism of use of Twitter, and that distracts from the real issue that you’re trying to communicate and get across.

Doug: So here’s my advice– if you don’t like Donald Trump, praise Twitter. But bury him for the content and meaning of his messages and actions.

Trump Inauguration Doesn’t Need Artists (Op-Ed)

By Ronn Torossian, President & CEO, 5WPR

Since everything has to be a sticking point and a reason to argue these days, in recent weeks, the list of performers slated to play at President-Elect Trump’s inauguration has become a political football. On one side you have the growing list of celebs aghast at the very notion of a President Trump, who are proclaiming loudly and proudly, they will not perform … despite not having been, you know, invited to do so. Then there are some who were asked and declined.

InagurationAnti-Trump faction praised their “decision” as the right move for the country, while pro-Trump folks vowed to boycott their music and concerts.

But not everyone is planning to skip the inaugural festivities. There are plenty of every day Americans thrilled about the new direction America is taking. Then there are the folks who know their audience well enough to jump at the chance to play for this president. Guys like Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood are shoo-ins for this crowd, and the love is sure to be strong and mutual.  Of course, some are already comparing the lineup to those who played for President Obama, a luminous list including Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, U2, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, with appearances by Jennifer Hudson and Eva Longoria.

Sure, there are very few who have the star power of Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce, but the Trump camp doesn’t care who isn’t with them and wont play into what some want to proclaim a scandal. In keeping with the theme throughout the campaign, Trump and his coterie have warmly embraced and celebrated those who are “with” him while either ignoring or dismissing those who are not. Trump has even turned the eyebrow-raised, winking comparisons around on themselves, saying the show is not about him or the star power he attracts. It’s about “the people” and who they would like to see.

For some performers, like singer Jackie Evancho, agreeing to perform caused some PR blowback from fans who are none too happy with the decision. Striking a conciliatory tone, Evancho said she hopes her performance helps to bring the country together. But that hasn’t stopped some people from picking on the 16yo kid, saying her performance is an affront to LGBT rights. Evancho’s sibling is transgender. The sibling in question, Juliet Evancho, did her best to reject this notion with class, reminding her sister’s critics, “it’s an honor for her to be singing for our country in front of so many people.” For many, that’s what this is about, and it’s not just Evancho hoping more people realize that sooner rather than later.

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of America’s leading PR agencies. He is one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States and author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations.” 


The Biggest News Story Of 2016: The Twin Phenomena of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

underwood200By Chuck Underwood, Founder/Principal, The Generational Imperative, Inc.

The Biggest News Story Of 2016 is the one the news media have completely missed:  the TRUE, GENUINE “WHY” behind the twin phenomena of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Here’s what the news media still haven’t covered but the field of Generational Study now documents.

The rage by America’s “Bottom 85 Percent” that explains Trump and Sanders has LITTLE to do with their anger at government.

Instead, the rage that has delivered America its new president (and a longshot Democratic contender who turned out to be not-so-longshot) is targeted at three specific groups:

(1) corporate executives;

(2) corporate raiders; and,

(3) corporate board directors who, over the past two decades, have stripped The Bottom Percents of control of their lives and hurled them into unending job and income uncertainty and instability:

CEOs have received massive bonuses and raises from their Board directors in part because they laid off U.S. employees and thus cut costs, meaning greater returns for their beloved shareholders.

Corporate Raiders have bought in to companies, forced the CEOs to either merge with another company and slash jobs or send U.S. jobs overseas only so they could make more – and more – money, with no regard for what they’re doing to their American brothers and sisters who are kicked into the streets with resumés in their hands.

Board Directors have spinelessly stood for NOTHING except protecting their title as a “board director!” and keeping that average director salary of $253,000 coming in, in exchange for their average of 5 hours of work per week and serving as obsequious yes-men and yes-women to their puppetmaster shareholders.  So those cowardly directors have willingly paid massive corporate fines when their CEOs have gone criminal but have constantly REFUSED TO FIRE THE CEO.  And if you’re the CEO at Wells Fargo, which was just caught cheating millions of customers and fired more than 5,000 employees, you as the CEO do NOT get fired by your directors and, in fact, receive a $134,000,000 check for “retiring”.

The three American generations that currently dominate the U.S. workforce are Baby Boomers (age in 2017 is 53 to 71), Gen X’ers (age 36 to 52), and Millennials (age 18 to 35).  Their Bottom Percents’ rage, their loss of control of their lives, their disempowerment at the hands of their bosses, and their authentic desperation explain The Biggest News Story Of 2016:  The Rage was directed much less towards Congress or the White House (even as incompetent as they are perceived) and instead at corporate executives, corporate raiders, and corporate board directors.

And not a single news organization has presented this story with the scope and front-page, above-the-fold urgency that The Biggest News Story Of 2016 deserves.  What a damning indictment of the industry that is supposed to serve a watchdog function….

About the Author:  Chuck Underwood is one of the half-dozen people who pioneered and then popularized the field of generational study and, with it, generational business strategies.  Nearly thirty years of research.  And many of his original principles are now a permanent part of this field. He is the founder/principal of Ohio-based generational consulting firm The Generational Imperative, Inc. His 2016 book is the most comprehensive presentation of generational business and personal-life dynamics ever published and is entitled: America’s Generations In The Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room.  In addition, Mr. Underwood is the host of the PBS television mini-series America’s Generations With Chuck Underwood, the first such series in the history of national television. 


Shareholder Activism in the Trump Presidency: A Canary in the Coal Mine Moment for Boards and the C-Suite

By Andrew Ricci, Vice President, LEVICK

We’re now at the point where we can count the number of weeks until Donald Trump assumes the presidency on one hand. Over the past month, since Mr. Trump’s stunning upset in the Presidential race, we’ve gotten a lot of information about what his cabinet will look like and what his approach to economic and foreign policy will be.

trumppresidency640x480ondemandLast week, CommPRO convened a panel of investment and political experts to discuss how a Trump Presidency might impact Shareholder Activism – a webinar that followed up on a pre-election discussion on the similarities that exist between an activist shareholder effort and a political campaign. I was honored to participate on both panels as a political and campaign expert and was happy to share my perspectives with those who tuned in.

Truth be told, we don’t have a lot of details on whether shareholder activism campaigns will be significantly different under a Trump administration. He will have the opportunity to appoint commissioners to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which will undoubtedly give us additional insight into his thinking on the issue when the time comes.

Through his appointments thus far, though, we do know that President-elect Trump has chosen perhaps the most business-friendly cabinet we’ve seen in recent history, with many of his agency leaders coming from the business world rather than the political one. This leaves no lack of board or C-Suite experience at the upper echelons of the federal bureaucracy.

Much was made over the course of the campaign about Mr. Trump’s relationship with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who has made headlines for his attempts to impact companies. In the early days of the Trump transition, Mr. Icahn was allegedly in the running for the top spot at the Treasury Department or as an economic advisor in the Trump administration. Mr. Icahn however, repeatedly demurred, and though he will have no formal role, may still serve in an informal capacity. Either way, it appears that both activists and traditional board types may have a seat at the table and thus, the President’s ear.

What I think is more interesting, though, is the way that activist shareholders might emulate Mr. Trump’s methods of building a major platform and using it expertly to create influence. In past weeks, Mr. Trump has used his platform on Twitter – and the media’s fascination with every one of his tweets – to take aim at individual companies. After blasting Lockheed Martin Corp.’s fighter jet program on Twitter last Monday morning, it took less than four hours for $4 billion to be wiped off the company’s value. As of this writing, Lockheed Martin’s stock price is still down 14 points from where it was just ten days ago and still down more than 7 points from its closing price before the tweet.

President-elect Trump has also taken aim at Boeing, and it is unlikely that these two companies will be the only ones in his cross hairs. In a POLITICO story after the Lockheed Martin incident, BMO Private Bank’s Chief Investment Officer Jack Ablin identified “a new type of risk, call it presidential tweet risk.” Mr. Ablin also noted that “everyone now has to keep their Twitter feed right next to their Bloomberg terminal.”

With the continued prevalence of social media sites like Twitter that give everyone a voice, it is a not-unrealistic expectation that the biggest activist investors may be able to build a platform on par with Mr. Trump’s and use it to impact share prices in the same way that the President-elect has demonstrated.

Fortunately, for companies, this is unlikely to happen overnight, but boards and C-Suites must start to account for these new types of risk in their preparations. In short, this should be a canary in the coal mine moment, and boards that ignore the present opportunity to prepare for such events open themselves to the potential for major – and lasting – damage to their companies and brands.

In the first webinar on this topic before the election, we noted the similarities between activist shareholder efforts and political campaigns. In a political campaign, challengers to an incumbent must build a platform that can compete on a level playing ground and get the message out. In this case, the incumbent tends to have an advantage through an already in-place media and messaging organization. Publicly-traded companies would be remiss to fail to build this platform, engage it regularly, and have it at the ready when the time comes. Otherwise, someone with a louder megaphone – whether the President-elect or a shareholder looking to make an impact – can easily rule the day.

About the Author: Andrew Ricci, Vice President at D.C. communications firm LEVICK.  Andrew, an experienced media relations expert, content-creation specialist, and public affairs strategist, started his career working on political campaigns and on Capitol Hill, serving as a senior communications aide to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) and as the Congressman’s official spokesman during his reelection campaign. At LEVICK, Andrew now counsels a wide range of clients navigating reputational challenges in the public eye. 


Free Webinar: How A Trump Presidency May Impact Shareholder Activism News News Alert

WHAT: – a B2B digital publisher and professional development site serving the public relations/investor relations, marketing, advertising and corporate communications sectors—will offer a free webinar on Tuesday, December 13, at 2 p.m. ET, exploring the topic “How A Trump Presidency May Impact Shareholder Activism.”

The panel of industry experts will take a deep dive into what activist investors and shareholders may expect to see in the coming four years.

Moderator Keith E. Gottfried , Partner and Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, will be joined by:

●Steven Balet, Managing Director – Strategic Communications, FTI Consulting, Inc.
●Stephen L. Brown, Senior Advisor, KPMG Board Leadership Center
●Arthur B. Crozier, Chairman, Innisfree M&A Incorporated
●Daniel Kerstein, Managing Director, Head of Strategic Finance, Barclays Investment Bank
●Andrew S. Ricci, Vice President, LEVICK

Topics to be explored will include:

●How activists will fare under a Trump administration
●Whether a Trump administration will foster a climate that is more or less friendly to shareholder activism
●How a Trump administration’s policies could impact the types of campaigns that activists look to pursue and the industries that are targeted

WHEN: 2 p.m. ET, Tuesday, December 13, 2016
WHERE: Register Here
MEDIA: Media are welcome to attend.

ABOUT: With less than forty days remaining until Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, it remains far from clear how activists will fare under a Trump administration and whether a Trump administration will foster a climate that is more or less friendly to shareholder activism. For this timely webinar, we have assembled a panel that combines experts from the political and shareholder activism arenas to discuss how a Trump administration and its policies could impact the climate for shareholder activism, the types of campaigns that activists look to pursue and the companies and industries that are targeted


Trump’s Victory is Consistent with 84 Years of Personality Matchups

merrick-rosenberg-featuredBy Merrick Rosenberg, Author of The Chameleon

For months, political experts predicted that Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump in the presidential election. Trump’s victory stunned the nation – but it shouldn’t have.

Over the past 25 years, I have led training programs using the DISC personality assessment for more than 25,000 people and have worked with more than half of the Fortune 100. Drawing on my experience with personality styles, I have identified a pattern in presidential politics that is so consistent it has now held true for 84 years in 22 straight elections.

First, some background: I classify the styles into four categories: Direct and result-driven Eagles (Donald Trump and Chris Christie), charismatic and enthusiastic Parrots (Gary Johnson and Joe Biden), soft-spoken and harmonious Doves (Tim Kaine and Ben Carson), and logical and analytical Owls (Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence).

The outgoing, big personalities of Eagles and Parrots have beaten the more reserved and soft-spoken Doves and Owls in every election since 1928. In fact, Doves and Owls have only won in matchups against other Doves and Owls.

Prior to the dawn of radio and television, these personality predictors were less reliable. The electorate judged candidates based on their platforms more than their personalities. Mass media has changed everything. Ever since the first televised debate, in which an awkward Richard Nixon squared off against a charismatic John F. Kennedy, personality has played an increasingly outsized role in presidential politics.

As a nation, we apparently prefer assertive, dominant, and enthusiastic presidents over thoughtful, quiet, and harmonious leaders. This pattern holds true regardless of whether a candidate is new or an incumbent, whether the economy is thriving or flailing, and whether the United States is at war or at peace. For 84 years, personality has trumped platform.

Simply put, Eagles and Parrots beat Doves and Owls…every time.

Eagle George W. Bush beat Owls John Kerry and Al Gore. Parrot Bill Clinton beat Owl Bob Dole. Before that, Lyndon Johnson Eagle’s style beat Barry Goldwater’s Owl personality and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Eagle-Parrot style topped Herbert Hoover’s Owl approach.

However, when Eagles and Parrots go up against other Eagles and Parrots, it’s a toss-up.

It’s also a toss-up when Owls and Doves battle other Owls and Doves. Owl George H.W. Bush won the job of president against fellow Owl Michael Dukakis but lost by a wide margin to Parrot Bill Clinton. Likewise, Dove Jimmy Carter beat fellow Dove Gerald Ford but came up short against Parrot Ronald Reagan.

So what did this all mean for the 2016 presidential election?

Given that Donald Trump is unmistakably an Eagle, the pattern predicted that he would defeat Hillary Clinton, an archetypal Owl. The results are reminiscent of the 2008 primaries in which Hillary’s Owl style succumbed to Obama’s Eagle-Dove. This time around, Clinton tried to accentuate the more relaxed tendencies of the Dove and the enthusiasm of the Parrot. That shift (and, perhaps, the Democratic National Convention) helped her to defeat Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Nonetheless, Clinton’s Owl ways came roaring back in the general election.

Donald Trump’s full-force Eagle mode swayed voters his way. His abrasive comments couldn’t change the underlying personality dynamics of this election. That said, Donald Trump’s personality may not serve him in the White House. When we overuse our strengths, they become our weaknesses. Too much Eagle energy can undermine collaboration and thoughtful policymaking.

Could Hillary have broken the pattern?

Maybe Clinton could have tipped the balance by playing more of an Eagle. Somehow, Clinton needed to add Eagle energy to her campaign, yet she selected Tim Kaine, a Dove, as her running mate. Perhaps the Clinton campaign thought that Trump would defeat himself. Instead, they needed to show that Clinton could be just as dominant and passionate as her rival.

What does Trump’s victory mean for future elections?

People make decisions based on emotion and rationalize them based on logic. Clinton was trying to appeal to logic, while Trump was stirring emotion. Eagle emotion beats Owl logic in an election.

Clinton supporters may feel that the media failed Americans by focusing on the likability and personality of the candidates. In truth, the media became a mirror for the electorate’s priorities. The campaigns were complicit in making personality the central issue of the 2016 election. Democrats attacked Trump for his temperament, not his policies. Likewise, Republicans questioned Clinton’s integrity, not her strategy for leading America.

For 84 years and 22 elections, Americans have put style over substance, personality before platform. Political strategists haven’t yet adapted to this reality, but they will. Personality has played and will continue to play a major role in presidential politics.


About the Author: Merrick Rosenberg is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur and thought leader on the personality styles. He co-founded Team Builders Plus in 1991 and Take Flight Learning in 2012. Merrick is the author The Chameleon and co-author of Taking Flight!. As CEO of Take Flight Learning, he has led his organization to the be selected by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia region. Under his leadership, Team Builders Plus was selected as the New Jersey Business of the Year by NJ Biz magazine. 


Donald Trump Remains A Master of Public Relations

By Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

One of the reasons Donald Trump is President is because of his innate understanding of media and public relations — and even before being inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, he has already won a major public relations victory with air conditioning giant, Carrier.

donald-trump-remains-a-master-of-public-relationsEarlier in the year, a video of Carrier executives telling angry plant workers they were all about to lose their jobs went viral on the ‘net. Candidate Trump grabbed hold of that scene, promising to “do something about it” if he won the Presidency. Trump was the only candidate who spoke often and spoke passionately about Carrier, as well as other companies who announced plans to move their plants to Mexico … and Trump won going away.

Trump had his finger on the pulse of what matters to Americans – and won a major victory in the world of media (and jobs) by getting Carrier to keep jobs in America. Carrier says they got Trump to promise them what they wanted in the first place. In the media market that matters, they both can claim victory. 

At a rally in Cincinnati, Trump said the “victory” in the Carrier issue was the first of many for his administration, and Trump won because he spoke to the emotions of Americans. Trump may have saved less than half the jobs that would have been lost, but, and this is key to understanding his support: he did save those jobs … hundreds of them … and the Indiana plant will remain open.

As entrepreneur David Milberg as noted, “The facts remain these jobs would be lost if there wasn’t a President Trump.”

Trump keeps getting wins, and keeps winning to his audience. While they quibble about numbers and details, Trump holds hands with people whose jobs he just saved.


About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of America’s 20 largest PR firms.  


How A Trump Presidency May Impact Shareholder Activism (Webinar On-Demand)


Webinar Overview 

With less than sixty days remaining until a new U.S. president is inaugurated and a new administration takes over the executive branch of the U.S. government, it remains far from clear how activists will fare under a Trump administration and whether a Trump administration will foster a climate that is more or less friendly to shareholder activism.

For this webinar, we have assembled a panel that combines experts from the political and shareholder activism arenas to discuss how a Trump administration and its policies could impact the climate for shareholder activism, the types of campaigns that activists look to pursue and the companies and industries that are targeted.



Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 1 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders, both in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the first half of 2016 and in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 year-to-date activism defense league table. Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.



StevenBallet200x200Steven Balet
Managing Director – Strategic Communications
FTI Consulting, Inc.

Steven Balet is a managing director in the FTI Consulting Strategic Communications segment and is based in New York. He is part of the Financial Communications and Capital Markets practices.

For the past 20 years Mr. Balet has advised public companies and hedge funds of all sizes on mergers & acquisitions, contested proxy campaigns and corporate governance issues. Mr. Balet’s experience includes providing strategic counsel to both corporates and dissidents in proxy contests all around the world.  He has also worked on many contested cross border mergers and acquisitions transactions.

Mr. Balet has extensive experience working with issuers to develop the most effective message for delivering the vote. He routinely counsels issuers on how to engage third party advisory groups such as Institutional Shareholder Services as well as providing background information on various activist stockholders and the techniques they employ. Mr. Balet has spoken on numerous panels discussing shareholder activism as it relates to both merger activism and board proxy fights.

Mr. Balet has been involved in some of the largest contested situations in the past decade including representing Sanofi-Synthelabo in their acquisition of Aventis, Rio Tinto in its defense of BHP Billiton’s hostile tender, and Oracle in its hostile acquisition of Peoplesoft. Most recently, Mr. Balet advised in tow large hostile defenses: Allergan in its defense against Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Perrigo Company in its defense against Mylan N.V.; and he currently advises Monsanto Company.

Mr. Balet joined FTI Consulting in April 2013. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Balet’s experience included 15 years at MacKenzie Partners, including three years as head of their London Office.


StephenBrown200x200Stephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.


Arthur CrozierArthur B. Crozier
Innisfree M&A Incorporated

Arthur B. Crozier, the Chairman of Innisfree M&A Incorporated of New York and of Lake Isle M&A Incorporated, Innisfree’s wholly-owned UK subsidiary. Art’s practice includes the representation of U.S. and international clients in a wide variety of transactions and proxy contests, as well as annual and special meetings. In addition, he counsels an international roster of clients on corporate governance and executive compensation issues. Art has written numerous articles and spoken extensively on the subjects of corporate governance, proxy contests, hedge fund activism, executive compensation and international voting practices.



daniel-kersteinDaniel Kerstein
Managing Director M&A
Global Head of Strategic Finance Group

Daniel is the Global Head of Barclays’ M&A Strategic Finance Group. He is based in the New York office and directs teams in New York and London.  Strategic Finance is responsible for delivering strategic advice to the firm’s corporate clients with regards to shareholder activism and defensive situations.  The group works closely with management teams and Boards of Directors to prepare for and defend against the involvement of activist investors.  Notable engagements include the defense and financial advisory to Hertz, defense and capital structure advisory to Juniper Networks, and defense and financial advisory to Axiall.

Daniel joined Barclays from Lehman Brothers in 2008 and was previously the head of the Product Development Group, where he assisted on structuring the IPOs of several alternative asset managers, including Blackstone and Fortress.  Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, Daniel was a Vice President in Corporate Finance at Merrill Lynch, where he worked on and developed a number of convertible bondproducts, including contingent convertible and contingent payment bonds.

Daniel has a B.A. in English Literature from Queens College and J.D. from Harvard Law School.



andrewr200Andrew S. Ricci
Vice President

Andrew S. Ricci, a Vice President at LEVICK, a Washington, DC based communications and public affairs firm. Andrew is an experienced media relations expert, content-creation specialist, and public affairs strategist who helps brands, organizations, companies, and foreign governments tell their story to the audiences that matter and in a way that maximizes impact. Prior to joining LEVICK, Andrew served as a senior communications aide to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) in his Capitol Hill office and during the reelection campaign. He developed the overall communications strategy and messaging; produced all written materials; engaged national, state, and local media; and served as the Congressman’s official spokesman. He also served as an aide to Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.).


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New Research: The Customer Journey in a Post-Trump World

guy-marion-featuredBy Guy Marion, CMO, Autopilot

It’s a post-Trump world and we know that a few well-placed tweets can catalyze an entire online movement…or leave a permanent scar.

Of course, Trump’s secret isn’t that he is the world’s wittiest tweeter or most original thinker – it’s that he knows his audience cold and never misses a chance to needle their pains and stir them into a frenzy. He’s a master brand builder.

For marketers, the winds of opportunity are blowing. While the relationship between brand and customer experience has always been mutually reinforcing, never has the latter been so publicly visible and instantly impactful. Succeed in creating an authentic and memorable online customer experience and brands can reap the benefits of instant shares, shout outs, and no-cost growth.

Fail to do so and miss quick chances to Trump your competition. Or risk falling victim to the unrelenting millennial consumer: a thrifty, inquisitive, and self-service generation who Googles instantly and expects a 1 to 1 response 24 x 7 (bots can be ok).

It turns out that a lot of people (in fact, 71% of “high performers”) have mastered how to use the customer journey to acquire leads faster, earn repeat buyers, and create successful customers. This new report offers an aggregated view of their tricks of the trade, while summarizing their results and offering practical takeaways. So who are these high-performing marketers?

High performers are attaining 80% or more of their goals this year and grow revenue by 58% faster on average. This is consistent regardless of their company size or business focus, with high performers outperforming peers by as much as 122% in enterprise and by 74% amongst B2C marketers.


New Research: Customer journey marketers are winning

We recently released our latest research report, the “2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing,” with a foreword from Adrienne Weissman, CMO of G2 Crowd.

This 39-page report draws from 505 US-based marketing decision makers to discover where they are investing, the strategies they are adopting to achieve high growth, and which marketing tactics and channels get results in a post-Trump world.

As 2017 approaches, marketers are investing first in online ads (30%), and customer events (also 30%), followed by email marketing, social media ads, and content (download the report for the complete 2017 investment priorities list).



High performers are focusing more on the customer experience than ads, by investing in customer events and marketing (35%), and referral and loyalty programs (29%), to get ROI from creativity, proof points, and buyer incentives to drive referrals and repeat purchases.

High performers are also investing in analytics and attribution (19%), meaning that as budget allocation shifts from advertising to customer-focused marketing, marketing leaders need to hire math men over mad men to analyze behavioral and purchasing data to accurately attribute what content and campaigns generate ROI.

Marketing automation adoption has taken off

Until recently, many companies have yet to implement marketing automation software (MAS), with research completed as recently as mid-2014 suggesting that MAS adoption hovers around only 3% for non-technology companies. The complexity, high costs and arduous implementation of traditional MAS vendors have warded off most companies, particularly SMBs, from adopting the technology.

But in 2016 adoption of MAS has taken off. 53% of marketers surveyed here say they use marketing automation to nurture leads and personalize their customer’s experience. Cost, not lack of awareness, is now the main impediment of use.

Which automation journeys are working?




High performers say marketing automation’s biggest impact is on lead generation (32%). For example, the Corporate Mobility Solutions (B2B) unit of ride-sharing service Lyft reported a 600%+ increase in leads in 2016 by using Autopilot connected to Salesforce to automate the follow up, qualification, and routing of new web and content leads.

The second most valuable use of marketing automation is for enticing satisfied one-time buyers to purchase again (23%). For example, popular B2C services like the flower delivery service BloomThat tailors their new user experience based on the number of times their customers have purchased.
Other successful nurturing approaches to acquire and on-board new users include:

•Triggering helpful messages that help users reach “Aha!” moments in your app
•Personalizing content based on past behavior (in-app, web-based, or purchase)
•Crafting a compelling multi-channel experience (email, in-app, SMS, web) and focusing on vertical or functional use cases (industry, need, department)

Nearly everyone is personalizing

81% of marketers in this study are using data to personalize their marketing, and are 54% more likely to say it’s resulting in a better customer experience. Most are using basic contact details or firmographic data, like name, company, or industry, to segment and personalize their newsletters or promotions for better results


Rich personalization is still in its infancy, with only a third of marketers using online behavior, integrated CRM data like lead status’ or sales-entered data (19%, or in-app usage (13%), to deliver more granular, relevant experiences and content. So what are the benefits of this more personalized marketing?

Not surprisingly, the more personalized the marketing, the better the customer experience they deliver: 83% of those using in-app data and 79% of those using online behavior believe that personalization is improving the experience, compared to only 54 percent of those who do not use personalization.

Wrapping it all up

Top marketers’ focus on mapping the customer journey, investing in brand, and utilizing marketing automation to stay in touch more regularly and across multiple channels is paving the way to Trump-like results in 2017.

About The Author: Guy is the CMO of Autopilot, where he spearheads the company’s go-to-market strategy and operations. Prior to Autopilot, Guy was Head of Online Sales at Zendesk, VP/GM of CollabNet Cloud, and CEO of Codesion.

Body Language At The Trump And Obama Meeting

By Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

It was a meeting that was obviously highly stressful for both men. We’ll never know what was discussed when President Barack Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump were alone, but at their joint press conference their words were cordial and respectful.

(Photo source: Twitter)

(Photo source: Twitter)

So was their body language – up to a point.

As the press conference began, the men were in a “limbic symmetry” pose, (feet on floor, legs apart, hands in lap) so that their body language was identical.  Mirroring postures happens naturally when two people feel they have something in common. In this case, though, it might have been mutual fatigue, as both men rounded their shoulders and slumped slightly. Their feet, at least, were on the ground. If they had been seated with legs crossed and upper feet pointed away from each other, it would have been a negative sign.

As they waited for the conference to begin, Trump tapped his finger tips together – which can be a sign of impatience or a pacifying gesture to release stress.  Obama’s stress showed as well. When speaking he was hesitant and used a lot of “uh” and “um” vocal fillers. In addition his blink rate was higher than normal. Both men displayed an occasional lip compression – another signal of distress.

The president has always had good body language, aligned tightly to his verbal messages, and this was apparent again during the press conference. He gestured toward Trump when stating that his first priority was to insure a smooth transition, he brought his hand to chest when taking about “my team,” and both hands opened with palms up when he stated that he wanted to make sure both Donald and Melania Trump would feel welcome.

Donald Trump’s nonverbal cues were congruent with his “post election” body language that we saw as he gave his acceptance speech – softer, less strident, vocal tones, and slower gestures. During the press conference, his body language included broad arm gestures (which non-verbally send power and authority signals) and  his signature “air pinch” in which thumb and forefinger come together in a tight circle. (This is a signal he uses most when being definite or precise.) But the one body language signal that caught my attention was a shoulder shrug when he stated that the president had “explained some of the difficulties . . .”.  When a person shrugs while making a declarative statement, it usually means that the speaker doesn’t quite believe or agree with what he is saying.

At the end of the press conference President Obama extended his hand for the handshake, but he rotated his palm up slightly rather that presenting it sideways. Perhaps this was a gracious way of giving Trump the “upper hand” or an unconscious acknowledgement that Trump already had it.

As cordial as the encounter seemed to be, it was obvious that there was no real warmth between the two men. Not that I expected to see it, but I missed Obama’s genuine smile (which is one of his most dynamic and attractive non-verbal signals). Only its shadow appeared, accompanied by a touch on the arm with a personal aside to Trump as the reporters left the room.


About the Author: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is an international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. Contact Carol by phone: 510-526-1727, email: Carol@CarolKinseyGoman, or through her 

A Tale of 2 Brands—Trump and Clinton

david johnsonBy David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

One week after Donald Trump’s stunning win in the presidential election, the debate is still going on, as to how he was able to pull off his stunning election victory. One reason that is being overlooked and should be studied by business communicators and CEOs is that Trump regardless of if you love him or hate him was consistent with his brand identity.  In every election since Franklin Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936, the candidate who came across as being more authentic with his brand identity won the election.  This election was no exception.

Is your brand half-baked?A brand needs to tell a story.  That story needs to be consistent and reflect the brands values and beliefs.  It is what consumers and voters buy into and will allow a brand to develop a loyalty that will allow it to survive in hard times and flourish in good times.

Donald Trump over the years has built a brand identity based upon being brash, abrasive, in your face, decisive, and one who never backs down.  This identity has been built upon countless interviews, books, product lines, and of course Celebrity Apprentice.  It is why Americans felt that they knew him, the moment he announced his candidacy, while other candidates like Scott Walker, John Kasich, and even Ted Cruz were struggling to introduce themselves to the American public.  This familiarity with the Trump brand is why he was able to survive incidents that would have taken down another candidate (insulting John McCain, the Megyn Kelly episode, the Access Hollywood tape).  Millions of voters just saw these events as Trump being Trump and were neither shocked nor angered.  They saw it as Trump being consistent with his brand.

Contrast this with Hillary Clinton.  Voters were never sure what her brand identity was.  She introduced more new Hillarys during the campaign, then Richard Nixon had new Nixons in his entire career.  First she was the mother and grandmother breaking the glass ceiling.  Next she was the most experienced candidate to ever seek the White House.  After that, she was the progressive Hillary in the mode of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.  This shifted over time to the consensus candidate who would unite America.  Yet at the end voters were uncertain if she was any of these brands.

But it just isn’t in politics that we see this.  Recall the Duck Dynasty scandal several years ago when Phil Robertson made homophobic and racist remarks.  He and Duck Dynasty survived and continue to flourish because he was seen as being consistent with the brand.  Yet Paula Deen who was seen for years as a nice grandmotherly person saw her brand crumble when it was revealed she had used the ‘n’ word.  This went against her whole brand identity and she has yet to this day to recover.

The lesson that Trump and others serve is that by being consistent with a brand identity forged over the year will allow a brand to weather the worse of scandals and allow for even greater success.  Having no brand identity or going against an established brand identity is a recipe for disaster.


 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at

Trump’s Man Lewandowski out at CNN

Ronn Torossian featuredBy Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5W PR

Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump staffer who was replaced after a very public incident with a reporter from Breitbart News, reinvented his career as a pundit on CNN. Last week, after Trump won the presidency, Lewandowski resigned from his post at CNN, effective immediately.

While Lewandowski’s close relationship with Trump raised a few eyebrows from media critics, a populace that is growing accustomed to biased panels on “news” programs basically shrugged, thinking: “well, if this guy likes Trump, they will find someone who likes Clinton just as much.”

And that’s pretty much how it played out. Any time Lewandowski was brought on to contribute, the network set him up against a Clinton partisan, often Van Jones, tossed an issue in between them and watched the sparks fly. It’s a gimmick all the major cable networks use, but typically it’s with a person who was involved with a former president, not one who just got elected. Tough to pretend objectivity when viewers know what a pundit will say before they say it.

Corey R. Lewandowski

Corey R. Lewandowski

And things were not peachy inside the network either. Some CNN staffers harbored doubts about Lewandowski and others believed he should never have been hired in the first place. The complaints had some meat to them. Lewandowski had an NDA that forced him not to disparage Candidate Trump in public, even as a reporter relating accurate information. Plus, he was receiving severance cash from the campaign.

As entrepreneur Herman Friedman noted, “CNN President Jeff Zucker repeatedly defended the hiring, saying it promoted a diversity of ideas at the network, and the competition was looking to hire him too.”

Now it looks like Lewandowski may have been given another chance by his former boss. He met with someone at Trump Tower last week during a series of transition team meetings that also resulted in the demotion of Chris Christie and the promotion of Trump’s running mate Mike Pence to transition team chief.

If Lewandowski will have a role in the Trump transition team and, if so, what is unclear at the time. But the fact that he was only with CNN for a few months and may be right back where he started paints a fairly clear picture of where his loyalty was all along, and that gives the American public, already critical and suspicious of TV media, more ammunition for their argument that the 4th Estate is giving up on informing them.

This narrative pounded over and over again by Trump during the campaign, really caught on, and it’s not likely to disappear now that the issue has been decided. At some point, cable news will have to address the growing distrust if they wish to stay relevant going forward.



About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of America’s 20 largest PR firms.  


Donald J. Trump: The Master Salesman, Publicist & Social Media Maven – And President Elect

julie-talenfeldBy Julie Talenfeld, President,  BoardroomPR

America is facing a future unlike we’ve ever faced before.

For all of Donald J. Trump’s campaign promises and bluster, though, what we’re witnessing is the handiwork of our generation’s greatest salesman. People praise sales pros like Zig Ziglar, legendary ad man David Ogilvy, Mary Kay Ash, and Dale Carnegie.

But in Trump we have a true master marketer. He tore through the U.S. presidential election process and, without spending much – if any – of his own money, and cast aside an impressive line-up of Republican contenders on his way to beating Hillary Clinton.

How did Trump do it?

First, he captured the news headlines from the very start. From first deriding Mexican immigrants as “murderers and rapists” to claiming a newswoman’s menstrual cycle made her unreasonably aggressive during a debate, to a host of other inflammatory comments, his words became soundbites. And the news media couldn’t resist. He garnered billions of dollars in free news coverage. In a word, it was priceless.

Second, he mastered wordplay. Trump attached catchy nicknames to his opponents – Little Marco Rubio, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, and ultimately Crooked Hillary Clinton. Trump knows catchphrases are memorable. It belittles the opposition, becomes a sticky moniker the populace latches on to, and becomes part of the cycle’s vernacular.

Third, he’s all about image and stagecraft. Remember his entrance coming down the escalator at Trump Tower? Or the photographs of his Manhattan condo with its gold-laced interiors? He positioned himself as the billionaire iconoclast – a “maverick” in parlance of a previous campaign – and those who had grown tired of “politics as usual” saw in him someone they could back. They saw a leader.

Fourth, and most importantly, Trump is a master of the media. While he may have claimed the media was “rigged” against him (another catchy line that helped separate him from the establishment), he used the major news outlets to his advantage. An online search of Trump’s past photographs show images seemingly staged for maximum effect: Trump with his jet or helicopter behind him, or him standing beneath the golden marquee of one of his buildings.

Sure, Trump made bold – if erroneous – statements. He lied. He was boorish. But somehow, this master of the media realized that his audience were willing to look beyond his claims and lies and bluster to deliver the change they believed only he could deliver to American politics.

Like Ziglar or Ogilvy or Ash or Carnegie before him, Trump proved to be the master marketer. He packaged his brand for public consumption, tapped into people’s strongest emotions, and sold them precisely what they sought – as only a master salesman could do.

About the Author: Julie Talenfeld is an award-winning and highly respected marketing communications professional. The firm she founded in 1989, BoardroomPR, today offers media relations, branding, social media strategy and execution, reputation management, crisis communications, litigation communications, strategic planning, marketing and advertising.[/author]

5 Communications Lessons from Trump’s Victory

david-johnson-featuredBy David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

Americans elected Donald Trump as President on Tuesday.  It was the political upset heard around the world as every poll and pundit had predicted a Hillary Clinton victory.  Without a doubt it was our version of the famous Harry Truman upset over Thomas Dewey in 1948.  Even more so for business communicators Trump’s strategy provides some lessons on how to effectively communicate.

5 Communications Lessons from Trump's VictorySo what were the lessons?

  1. Have a message.  Whether you liked Donald Trump’s message regarding immigration, the Affordable Care Act, or banning Muslims, he had a message and stayed on those major points throughout the campaign.  People knew where he stood on issues and by his consistency of message appeared to be a strong leader at a time when America was looking for a strong leader.  Clinton on the other hand seemed bland with her statements which seemed as if they had all been focused group tested before she made them.  A clear message will win every time.
  2. How you say it matters. Trump had an almost uncanny sense of what voters wanted to hear and how they wanted to hear it.  He realized more than what he said, how he said it to voters mattered.
  3. Social media is effective. Trump was mocked for his late night tweets on Twitter.  Yet he understood the power of social media far better than anyone else.  It wasn’t by accident that he has more followers on Twitter than President Obama has.  He understood that social media provided a cost-efficient way to reach voters and engage them.
  4. Be true to your brand. Trump was attacked time and again for his over the top statements and being politically incorrect.  Yet that was his brand that he had developed over the years through Celebrity Apprentice, media interviews, and business deals.  He was being consistent with that brand identity and that is why he was not hurt with his statements.  Clinton on the other hand seemed to be rebranding herself throughout the campaign, leaving voters to wonder who was the real Hillary.
  5. Know your audience. Trump knew throughout the campaign who he was trying to reach – the Silent Majority as Richard Nixon called them or the Reagan Democrats as they were rebranded – and tailored his statements and appeal to that audience.  Clinton on the other hand never seemed to know who she was trying to reach.  Was it the Obama coalition?  Disgruntled Republicans?  Undecided independents?  And at the end that was fatal as her vote totals among core Democratic constituencies was far lower than that of previous Democratic candidates.

The 2016 election will be studied for years.  Donald Trump will become the modern day version of Harry Truman with Hillary Clinton as the Thomas Dewey foil.  Yet for communicators, the key is learning and incorporating the successful communications strategies from the election.

 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at

Howard Stern Weighs In On Donald Trump

Ronn Torossian 150x150By Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5W PR

After months of recordings and transcripts of his shows have been played and replayed in countless articles, on TV and online the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” Howard Stern is breaking his silence about his always provocative interviews with billionaire Donald Trump. (Stern is my neighbor in my Lincoln Center condo building).

Speaking to CNN, Stern said he was proud of the various interviews he did with Trump, especially the opportunity to get to what he called the heart of his personality.

Stern held nothing back, telling CNN the interviews were not just for entertainment, they revealed who Trump really is, “This is who Trump is. He was always bombastic. He always rated women. He always talked in a misogynistic, sexist kind of way, but he did it sort of proudly and out in the open; and he still won the Republican primary. In one sense, the fact that we do an interview and people’s personalities come out, I’m very proud of that… I didn’t expect Trump to seriously run for president. He was a very good sport, and he was in the spirit of the show…very friendly toward me, friendly toward the show, always coming on…”

(Photo Source: Twitter)

Howard Stern (Photo Source: Twitter)

Stern went on to burst a lot of hopeful bubbles on the DNC side by vowing to never release the tapes of those interviews, edited or otherwise. Some Democrats were excited when the bits from Stern started trickling out, hoping the radio host, who came out in support of Hillary Clinton, would offer them something to hang The Other Guy.

Of course, as Elie Hirschfeld, Donald Trump’s former partner and a  supporter notes, Trump is always direct and real, for good and bad.

But that’s not how Stern plays the game. He may be raunchy, and he might dig a little deeper into his guests than other radio talkers, but he’s not one to kiss and tell. What’s aired is aired, and anything else stays on the cutting room floor or in the vault. He feels like Trump has been more than fair to him, coming on his show, being open, so he figures to return the favor by protecting some semblance of privacy for a candidate who can’t seem to escape bad press for what he says both on and off camera. So, Hillary will get Stern’s vote, but she won’t get him as an accomplice to her White House run.

Trump, for his part, hasn’t said much about his times on Stern, other than to say, yes, that’s what they talked about and to express surprise that so many people pretend to be surprised by what’s been leaked. It is, after all, a guy who named his biography, Private Parts.

A Little Last-Minute Online Marketing Advice for Trump and Hillary

shama224By Shama Hyder, Founder and CEO, Marketing Zen Group

With the final presidential debate behind us, and Election Day right around the corner, it may seem like the candidates no longer have the time or the platform to make any significant changes in the trajectory of their campaigns. With mere days to go before the nation votes, how many more people can Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton realistically hope to connect with? And with no more nationally televised events to make even the relatively uninterested pay attention, how can either candidate hope to spread their message any further?

But these constraints don’t mean it’s time to start winding down the campaigns – on the contrary, they call for a simple pivot in strategy, and a renewed focus on the digital marketing aspects of campaigning.

We’ve already seen some of the effects that social media can have in an election – now is the time for both campaigns to use that medium to its fullest potential in order to reach the most people possible in the short time remaining. Social media is unique in that it allows personal, one-on-one connections to be made – on a worldwide stage with countless others watching. That intersection of personal and public makes it possible for both Trump and Hillary to make more of these last few days of their campaigns than they ever could using conventional tactics alone.

a-little-last-minute-online-marketing-advice-for-trump-and-hillaryHere are the 3 main strategies they should focus on:  

1. Double down on the online branding and messaging of the campaign.

Only so many people can attend the remaining rallies and town hall meetings – but anyone can check out Facebook or Twitter for a quick take on each candidate’s views. In these last few days before the election, each campaign should be restating their key messages and highlighting their candidate’s overall “brand” via their social media posts in a way that makes it easy for anyone to understand at a glance what each one stands for.    

2. Focus on the digital channels where key demographic groups congregate.

Now is not the time to try out new social media platforms or spread efforts too thin trying to reach new voters on every possible online channel. Instead, the campaigns should use analytics to determine which of their digital platforms has been most successful in reaching the main demographics they are hoping to connect with, and boost their activity on those platforms alone with laser-like focus.  

3. Develop and maintain meaningful connections online.

Shaking hands in a coffee shop is great – but connecting with individuals on social media will get Hillary and Trump a lot more traction when it comes to votes. Interacting with people on social media in a genuine way virtually guarantees candidates a flurry of shares within that person’s online network, and boosts their appeal in the eyes of everyone else watching, as well.

In these last few days before Decision 2016, both candidates still have plenty of opportunities to add to their followings. By harnessing the power of social media marketing, they can make every moment of the countdown to Election Day count.  

About the Author: Shama Hyder is founder and CEO of the award-winning Marketing Zen Group, a social media marketing and digital PR firm. She is also a highly acclaimed keynote speaker, bestselling author, and a regular media correspondent. Her latest book, Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age is now available on Amazon and across bookstores: 

Trump and Clinton Doubling Down PR Messages As The 2016 Race Heads Toward the Finish Line

Andy-Blum-headshotBy Andrew Blum

Now that we’ve had the final presidential debate, what are the last-minute PR and marketing tactics we should expect from the candidates and their parties? If I had to bet, I would say for the most part, they are going to keep doing what they’ve been doing. That’s not necessarily what their advisers and voters may want them to do.

Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson is spinning in his grave. If he was still alive, Thompson might have used a favorite phrase of his to describe the presidential campaign: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

Thompson would barely scratch the surface of the intensity and perplexing game-changing characteristics of 2016 as Donald Trump has rewritten the rules of running for president and communicating his message.

In the third debate it was pretty much more of the same – but this time Hillary Clinton sent a few zingers in Trump’s direction.

Between now and November 8, I think Trump should make real apologies for all his insults. He won’t. And Clinton should tell the public that, yes, she is sorry for her mistakes and that she is flawed but she knows how to govern. Who knows, she might.

Trump and Clinton Doubling Down PR Messages As The 2016 Race Ends

(Photo Source: Twitter)

What Trump seems to be missing is that PR and TV are all about perceptions of the person by the audience and he comes off horribly in a PR sense. Trump should avoid talking like a sexist creep; Clinton should avoid being wonky and keep the “When they go low, we go high” mantra borrowed from Michelle Obama. Clinton as the first woman nominee of a major party has almost seemed like a footnote at times in 2016 to Trump’s bluster. Yes, she has a PR message but it has gotten lost from time to time. Maybe the first debate fallout and the Trump income tax issue finally started to overcome some of her negatives. In the week after the first debate, her PR team won the battle as Trump self-combusted attacking a former Miss Universe.

The 2016 campaign has focused on an unrelenting torrent of criticisms by Trump of everyone and everything including debate moderators and the media – which by giving Trump so much coverage in the primaries helped him win the GOP nomination.

Trump’s recent PR ploy that the election is rigged and that the media, Clinton and women accusing him of sexual misconduct and groping are ganging up on him isn’t working. He even lashed out at Alec Baldwin for portraying him on SNL. Huh?

Trump needs to stay on message. He could take lessons from his wife who defended him from the accusations by women; she repeated the same message over and over. He erupts in 10 directions.Clinton could take political and warmth lessons from her husband. Bill Clinton is a natural born politician. Hillary Clinton is not.

Like him or hate him, Trump has redefined politics and PR with his communications style. Damage control and rapid responses on steroids have become the PR norm here.
Can Clinton overcome this with her PR approach? Can she fight off Trump attacks on the revelations from Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s leaked emails? If she keeps pushing Trump’s buttons and pivots off the emails, she can.

But the question Hunter Thompson would pose at this point: is this a one-time wacky change in campaigns, media and PR or have things changed forever? Thompson is spinning in his grave watching Trump and Clinton and their PR spinners.

About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies, families and individuals, and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive PR crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms