If you have been paying any attention to the US news recently, James Comey and President Trump are ‘at odds’ to put it plainly. Trump fired FBI Director Comey on May 9th, 2017 and offered no reason. After news of this came to Americans, there were many different stories on what happened, and why Trump made the decision to fire Comey.
Originally, the White House spokespeople said that “Trump acted on the assessment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein” (NPR) That story soon changed. Trump was interviewed by NBC News and stated that he would have fired Comey regardless of Rosenstein’s advice.
This was a big deal.
Whether or not Comey was fired for good reason or not doesn’t matter as much from the public relations point of view. the trouble came from the lack of understanding between the PR team members and the big names.
On May 12th, 2017, Trump tweeted this:
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Trump was antagonizing the situation and making it worse by the day.
In a public relation crisis, it is vital that everyone on the PR team are on the same page with the same facts within the same story.
But that’s not all, to be a true PR crisis there are 7 signs.
- Surprise: Trump firing James Comey was a big surprise to not only the public but also to The White House Communications Staff, who needed to know how to handle the situation.
- Insufficient information: Trump gave no singular reason to firing Comey.
- Escalating events: Rumors began about why Comey was really fired after Trump contradicted the original statements on national television.
- Loss of control: The Internet blew up with stories of the firing.
- Increased outside scrutiny: the public and the press are on a rampage for answers.
- Siege mentality: “No comment” is advised but Trump has not heeded that advice.
- Panic: Trump stated there were ‘tapes’ in a painc mode, but it is now surfaced that there were no tapes, after several weeks of being coy to the press about their existence.
This situation could have been handled so much better. If I had been involved, I would have insisted that everyone was on the same page, rather the same word in the same sentence on the same page in the same book. Not just the PR team but also the big dogs; yes, the President should also know what to be saying in these situations because he is the biggest public relations frontman in the world.