This post was originally featured as an article for Muck Rack.
Trump has dominated the news for over a year, so what are you gonna do about it? From fintech to education, most companies froze and wanted nothing to do with the Hillary vs. Trump circus that unfolded the second half of the year. But it’s all the media covered, and a month and a half into this year, nothing has changed.
I simply take a glance at the morning news in my email: Vice, Mashable, Quartz, Recode. All have Trump stories! Take a look at TV: CNBC, PBS Newshour, Nightly Business Report, CBS This Morning. Trump stories dominate!
It doesn’t mean the media isn’t covering other topics, but it means that a significant percentage of the media you are trying to target is focused on Trump-related issues. So, if you run a company and depend on external awareness to help your business and drive customer acquisition, you can sit on the sideline and see coverage of your company get cut in half or you have other options.
The media is covering how Trump will impact your industry.
From education to technology to the economy to jobs, your company can have an active role in what unfolds in the next four years. This doesn’t mean you have to be partisan or even support policy. But it does mean you are engaging media.
A good example is our client The Flatiron School, who chose to discuss the importance of visas for the tech community during the immigration ban. They didn’t criticize Trump, but they inserted themselves into a political and policy debate as an expert.
Maybe you don’t want to be actively involved in the day-to-day craziness going on inside and outside the Beltway. But you can still be a part of the conversation.
For instance, our client Stash is keeping a close eye on Trump’s unwinding of federal regulations that would directly impact the financial services industry. Are they lobbying on the Hill? No. But they are talking in very consumer-friendly language about what this means for investors.
And remember, your customers want to know how the chaos in the White House will impact them.
You have made a choice to not be involved at all in issues directly relevant to your company and will watch the next four years unfold from your office. And that’s fine. But while you stare at the news and struggle to find relevance, you may read about your competitors who are taking a more active role.
Six months from now (probably August), you will look back and regret the actions you didn’t take.
How can your company stay relevant in a Trump obsessed media environment?
There are topics that will dominate the news this year and keep the media very busy.
Healthcare, immigration, economy and jobs, education, environment, regulations – the list goes on. I’d be hard pressed to find a client at Ditto whose industry is not directly or tangentially impacted by Trump. And some industries, like the big technology leaders, recognized this early and moved quickly to set-up meetings.
But this doesn’t mean you have to be talking to Beltway reporters about legislation and slamming Trump, because public relations is more than “media coverage,” although I believe all efforts come back to getting in the press. What it means is companies must recognize that the word “Trump” gets reporters’ and producers’ attention.
If you are a fintech company (let’s say a robo-advisor), you don’t have to be pontificating about Trump’s stance on fiduciary standard, but you can do a survey that has one question about risk and investing in a Trump Market. That answer will get the attention of media and also allow you to talk about the more relevant topics the survey touched on too. Without it though, you are cutting your coverage in half.
Executives are coming to me more so than ever before wanting to be positioned as thought leaders through op-eds and contributed content. If you are the CEO of an edtech company, you don’t have to write about federal vs. state standards and criticize Education Secretary DeVos, but you can write more broadly about how the Department of Education should continue to advance the use of technology in the classrooms and the importance of data.
From the internet to the markets to job creation, there are broad issues that the Trump Administration – whether through legislation or Tweets – will make relevant all year. And again, the media is covering anything he and his appointees do. You should be identifying the speaking opportunities that play to the larger political themes of 2017. It doesn’t mean you have to stand on stage and discuss the ins and outs of a 1000-page bill in Congress. It just means you should know enough about the industry your company is in to talk gracefully. Again, you can be an expert and still be non-partisan.
There are simple ways to keep your business positively in the news without risking a late night Tweet from The Donald.
And, while you are thinking about how you want to position your company in a Trump-focused media environment, remember, your competitors may be more aggressive than you and reap the benefits.
How have your clients or company decided to handle the current media landscape in a Trump-dominated world? Let us know!
Trey Ditto, the CEO of Ditto, a full-service communications firm in based in Brooklyn. Previously he worked in political communications, including a stint in the Bush administration. Follow him on Twitter.
*A slightly different version of this post originally appeared on Trey Dittos' LinkedIn page.