Trump’s Outdated WH Media Operation Has to Go
Radio radio talk show titan Michael Savage frets that perceptions are damaging the president. The left is capitalizing. Trump should step back. He should “let all the president’s men stand up there and take the heat,” said Savage.
Trouble is the president’s men -- and ladies -- are overmatched. Or they’re hamstrung. The White House’s media operation reeks of Old Washington. It’s strategically stale and predictable – except for the president. And the tactics are just about what you’d expect from W’s White House.
The president deserves a communications strategy and execution as groundbreaking and bold as himself. Thematically, the president needs to move from a Washington to an “America” communications strategy and operation. The differences aren’t subtle; they’re downright huge.
Said Savage, per INFOWARS:
“Number one, stop the impulsive tweeting. It’s unnecessary, it doesn’t help. You can make mistakes when you tweet,” Savage said, pointing to tweets about the firing of FBI Director James Comey Tuesday as an example.
Yep, tweeting makes for mistakes, no doubt. But tens of millions of Red State patriots -- and Red Staters at heart -- get that. For the president, tweeting makes for raw, direct communications with millions of Deplorables across the Republic. Its underground communications gone powerfully virtual -- and viral. In a nation still dominated by MSM propaganda organs, social media -- along with the blogosphere and talk radio -- is a critical weapon in the fight to take back America. Trump backing off would gravely damage the cause.
What the president isn’t getting is effective support in his communications outfit. Right, word is the president is fast-moving and zigzags; keeping pace with him is daunting. So he needs to scrap biplane escorts in favor of F-35s on his wings.
What does an “advanced tech” communications approach look like?
The first thing is for the White House communications operation to deemphasize the Washington press corps. Whatever happened to moving press briefings from the West Wing to the Old Executive Office Building? Whatever happened to pushing the same old MSM faces to the back of the room? Whatever happened to dramatically expanding media access at the White House to not-Washington and alternative media?
The strategy is simple: the definition of media needs to be thoroughly modernized. It needs to be greatly broadened. “Media” isn’t primarily big conventional news outlets in the BosWash Corridor and on the left coast. Media -- all stripes -- mostly occupies real estate between the East and West Coasts. It’s not just twenty- and thirty-somethings with journalism degrees from Columbia who draw paychecks from the Washington Post and New York Times. A revolutionary communications strategy needs to reflect crucial differences.
The White House, along with the NRC, and along with any private funding that’s permissible, should build an “across-the-nation” communications infrastructure aimed squarely at routine, direct interaction with local broadcast and print media, bloggers, radio and internet talkers, and -- get this -- grassroots activists who can serve as Trump communications “Minutemen.”
It’s about fusion. GR activists should be recruited to take the president’s messaging into niche communities where message penetration is less certain (say, a retirement village or a business group or union hall) or where personal communications could effectively persuade.
The president should be made available to local media (as just defined). Why not give a sit-down to a news anchor in Orlando, for instance? Or in Cincinnati? Or Pittsburgh? How about putting the president on with local talkers? For instance, the president guests with Milwaukee’s Mark Belling and takes callers’ questions.
Sure, there are only so many hours in a day, and the demands on the president are many and varied, but he can be made available routinely, selectively. There’s a lot of bang for the buck in this approach.
Why not regionalize press conferences and briefings? Send Sean Spicer to Atlanta to field questions from invited Southeast regional media, for example. Bring along an administration heavyweight. Do so from a different locale once weekly. Powwow with allied local and statewide bloggers. Help them generate news and messaging for the president. Tie-in local and regional angles. Provide and make news out in America.
Late last week, the president was frustrated by a dustup White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had with the DC press corps over her “inaccuracy.” The president didn’t dispute the screwup. Here’s what he did say, though, via Tweets, as reported by the Washington Examiner:
"As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!" Trump tweeted, justifying White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders' inaccurate statements in a press briefing Wednesday as being the result of his fast-moving presidency.
"Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future 'press briefings' and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"
Of course, whoever speaks for the president needs get his or her facts straight. That’s flacking 101. But what the president is keenly noting is that DC insiders love to play “gotcha!” All the more so for the venomous DC press corps. Why keep this inane dance going with a gang hell-bent on bringing down the Trump presidency? It makes for a definition of -- if not insanity -- futility. Go find and cultivate media in America not dedicated to administrating a death of a thousand cuts. Stop the MSM from cluttering and detracting from messaging with sideshow distractions.
Fundamentally, the White House media operation needs to be two ways. A wide-open conduit from the White House to regional communications offices and local media. Regional WH communications offices with state coordinators will significantly help facilitate outreach and interface.
The second way is a bottom-up approach, with tone-healthy communications leadership at the White House, ready to act nimbly and smartly. Planning needs to be tight and, as suggested, coordination needs to be seamless. Dissemination of messaging and gathering of feedback require wholly new and comprehensive approaches. There need to be clear measures for progress and achievement.
The president’s time should be leveraged to have him out in America routinely. Trump’s rallies are very effective. Keep them going. But get the president out of Washington for other reasons, too. Why, in the age of high-tech communications, travel, and with plenty of other resources at hand, should President Trump be a captive of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Certainly, why should his communications operations be confined to DC?
The days of a DC-centric White House communications strategy and operation are long past. It’s old-think by too many pros who live Inside-the-Beltway and have grown accustomed to playing by a stymieing set of rules. President Trump should expect and demand more for his presidency. The stakes are… well, huge.