As part of crisis communications training with our clients, we emphasize that unless you are in a closed-door office or in a private location, anything you say in public can be used against you. This lesson, once again, resonated loud and clear in a Sunday New York Times scoop.
Last week, Denver attorney Ty Cobb who now works for the White House to coordinate its response into investigations into Russia’s connection with President Trump, was having a strategy lunch with the president’s lead outside attorney on the Russia investigations, John Dowd.
Little did they know, a Times reporter was also having lunch, at the next table.
The internet went into a flurry after Donald Trump’s Twitter typo, trying to decipher what exactly he was trying to say. As expected, memes erupted instantly. Now, however, the word might actually have a meaning. On June 12, Rep. Mike Quigley (D. Illinois) introduced a proposal that would amend the current Presidential Records Act to make it illegal for the president to delete social media posts. The proposal’s full name is the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act.
The chief executive of Grubhub, an online and mobile food ordering company, learned a lesson last week after he sent out a companywide email that implied that employees should resign if they supported President-elect Donald Trump.
The backlash was immediate and sustained. CEO Matt Maloney quickly moved to clarify his comments, but he damage was done. There were calls for a boycott and media pounced on the executive.
Responding to questions from a Ragan’s PR Daily reporter about the issue, GroundFloor Media’s Vice President Gil Rudawsky said that he began advising clients to update their policies concerning making public political statements earlier this year, and re-emphasized this in the weeks leading up to the election.
“Public comments, even from personal accounts, can be—and often are—misconstrued as being representative of their company’s views,” Rudawsky told Ragan’s. “As a best practice, it is not appropriate for executives to make decidedly one-sided political comments or to push their views on employees.”
And regarding Maloney’s missive to his staff, Rudawsky offered this lesson:
“We remind our clients that while free speech is right, just because you can make political mandates doesn’t mean you should.”
Barack Obama is the first president to have a Twitter account (@POTUS), and it is clear that social media will continue to play an increasing and integral role in politics. This election cycle, no candidate has moved his tiny thumbs more than Donald Trump, whose 140-character rants have put him in the spotlight almost as often as his orange glow and atrocious comb-over. Though his tweets have often gotten him into trouble, he’s found a committed audience through social media. Hillary Clinton has also amassed a strong following on Twitter, though her tweets are wisely curated, unlike Trump’s stream-of-consciousness dumps. Read more after the jump…