As the White House chooses a new communications director in the wake of Anthony Scaramucci’s firing, it has the opportunity to decide shake up the function of its comms team. Below are some suggestions as they move forward.
- Identify the message that they want to convey. Communication would be more effective if all members of the White House, Cabinet, and Executive Agencies had a unified message. Contradictory statements diminish the impact of a message and give an impression of internal disarray. Policy disagreements and discussion are beneficial, but the Communications Team needs to keep these behind closed doors.
- Determine the impression that they want to impart regarding internal functioning of the White House. The internal functioning of the White House has, at times, appeared disjointed and chaotic. To appear efficient and unified, the White House must have unified messaging and end leaks of staff rivalry.
- Ascertain which messaging works and which does not. The White House should determine what factors (such as content, format, delivery, etc.) lead to successful messaging. The use of “gut feelings” is helpful in evaluation, but it should also use past polling, Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, etc. In future messages, use those attributes which have been the most effective in the past.
- Coordinate White House and Agency communication so that positive messages dominate the news cycle without interruption. When competing messages appear at the same time, the positive one is usually muted and the White House is forced to spend time on the negative story. The White House should identify when this scenario has happened in the past, and it should design strategies to avoid it in the future.
- Weigh the pro’s and con’s of messages. The White House should choose those messages which have the most positive effects. If the message costs more voters than it gains or if it puts the White House on defense , the original message should likely not be sent.
- Hire the best people, including those from outside the world of politics. In The Art of the Deal, President Trump indicated that a key to his success has been hiring the best people. He should do the same for his Communication team. While it is necessary to have staff who understand the ways of Washington, he should broaden his search to include those in marketing, public relations, and companies which do great branding (such as Coca-Cola, Nike, etc.).
- Find the leakers and fire them. The constant leaks about White House dysfunction, debates, and policies need to stop. The White House needs to identify the leakers and immediately terminate their employment.
- Do not comment on news stories based on anonymous sources. It is impossible to determine the veracity of these stories, and, as has been shown in the past, many of these stories are completely inaccurate and made up to hurt the President and his agenda. The White House should not add credence to these stories by commenting.
- Do not respond to stories about possible Russian collusion in the election. These stories are designed to halt the progress of the White House. Consequently, the White House should not address them. Instead, refer any inquiries to the President’s attorneys.
- Encourage Republicans leaders to stop attacking the White House. The Democrat’s most effective criticism is repeating the attacks of Republican Congresspersons. These Republicans hurt the White House, the President, and, ultimately, the goals and policies of the Republican Party. If Republicans have criticism, they should share it privately with the White House and not with the national media.
- Continue relating policies to the theme of “Make America Great Again!” One of the reasons why the Presidential campaign was so effective is that every policy was related to the singular idea to “Make America Great Again!” The White House should continue this theme and make all messaging geared to this end.
Following these steps can help got the ball rolling to strengthen the White House’s messaging and help advance the president’s agenda.
Michael B. Abramson is an Advisor with the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and the state chair of Georgia for Jews Choose Trump (www.jewschoosetrump.org). He is an attorney in Atlanta and managing partner of the Abramson Law Firm. He is the author of A Playbook for Taking Back America: Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election. His articles can be found at http://www.michaelbabramson.com./ Follow him on Twitter: @mbabramson.