In the year since a so-called “Master of PR” and “Marketing Genius” was elected President, the PR business is not better off than it was one year ago. In fact, it’s in a tough spot.
Quite simply, he has made our job more difficult. For starters, he constantly dominates the news, more than any other President, permeating far beyond political or Washington news. Part of the job of PR, made increasingly more difficult by the dramatic contraction of the news industry and the decimation of journalist employment, is working to get newsworthy client information into news coverage. But every day, on every platform, on seemingly every beat, the news hole has shrunk even further in the past year as Presidential news comes first.
Compounding this is the deterioration of trust in the media that has been accelerated in the last year. Trust had been eroding for years, as it has in virtually all traditional institutions, as audiences have splintered. This trend is worsened by media companies’ collective failure to use PR tools to connect with audiences. But the Presidential “enemy of the people” labeling and outrageous “fake news” cries have been like dumping a giant can of gasoline on an already burning situation.
It’s not just the President himself. His minions have contributed to what could be considered the worst year in the history of the PR field. Sean Spicer was an embarrassment to the profession for his entire tenure as Press Secretary. Kellyanne Conway gave us the propaganda term “alternative facts.” Anthony Scaramucci became a short-lived sideshow. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ curt hostility is the antithesis of a media relations professional’s ideal demeanor.
Even on social media, it’s harder than ever to break through with a message, in between Presidential love and hate. Remember when the glut of political posts was going to subside on Facebook after Election Day? Is it possible to be on Twitter and avoid Presidential tweets?
Donald Trump used self-promotion, originally through the New York tabloids, to become America’s only celebrity real estate developer. Now he’s the undisputed center of attention, while damaging the environment where we strive to make an honest living by helping our clients. Over the last year, he has created obstacles we work to clear on a daily basis, having nothing to do with policy or governing.