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Lessons Learned from the Election: Are Advertisers Out of Touch?

What Will the Trump Administration Mean to the Area’s Communications Community?

by | Nov 7, 2016

With the election now history, one question for communicators to consider is what does the incoming Trump administration mean to the area’s large communications community?  The answer, in short, is that the changes will be significant and widespread. The reasons are many, including that Donald Trump will reward many of the people who worked to get him into office so, at the very least, it means that a number of senior-level government communications positions will go to Trump loyalists. (The same would have been true had Hillary Clinton won.) In addition, it means that public affairs and public relations agencies will add more people who have Republican and/or Trump connections and that may be at the expense of those with ties to the Democrats. And, in the legislative branch, clearly there are changes when someone new is elected to the House or Senate and the defected incumbent and his or her staff search for new employment.

Also, throughout the communications community, those communicators who have strong connections to the Democrats, will find those connections may be of less value in a Republican-dominated environment.

In addition, the D.C.-area is unique in the number of “progressive” communicators who work here; in fact, there are a large number of progressive communicators involved in PCDC – Progressive Communicators of Washington, D.C., an informal network of people working in traditional communications and new media who are committed to progressive causes and organizations.  If the Republicans propose a more conservative agenda, progressive communicators will find more of an uphill challenge than if Clinton had been elected.

It is important to note that there are a few groups that are sorry the grueling presidential campaign is over, including the media – especially those media outlets that have been running political ads – and those that create the ads and buy time/space. To these  organizations, political campaigns are a cash cow and for many of them the only good news is that the holiday ad season is about to begin.

And, speaking of the media, TVNewser notes that “for the TV networks, a new president means a reshaped D.C. press corps. And as the president-elect begins his transition from Trump Tower to the White House, several correspondents will likely be making moves to Washington, D.C. too. Network insiders tell us some of the changes could come as early as this week.”

We did an informal outreach to see what others thought the incoming Trump administration meant to area communicators and here is what we heard:

Shashi Bellamkonda, CMO, Surefire Social and Digital Marketing Professor at Georgetown University: “No matter how you think of the results, there are some key lessons from this campaign: Focused Messaging: The President-Elect’s message was well targeted to the market they were after. They did not try to serve everyone; Integrated digital campaign: They used all the tools in a integrated way including social media; and, Big Data: It seems that they concentrated in all the areas where they saw disenchantment with the economy, globalization, decay. From the acceptance speech, to me it signaled that the messaging is changing and is going to be more dignified to suit the office.”

Susan Davis, Chairman of Susan Davis International: “Change always means opportunity for communicators.  Trump’s win on his platform and Republican control of the Senate and the House means there will be significant change in every aspect of our lives, and that can only be great for our industry, and most especially for those involved in public affairs, issues and causes.”

Al Jackson, EVP Public Affairs, Spectrum: “There are some big lessons here for public affairs practitioners, not the least of which is the distrust of Washington embodied by the Trump movement. Indeed, voters demonstrated a distrust of government institutions that likely extends to private companies in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. It’s something we’ve got to keep in mind as we develop programs for our clients. Additionally, the Trump team had a completely different approach to this campaign and this election than everyone else did. We can’t just stick with what has worked in the past — to be successful we’ve got to look at things differently.”

Rosemary Reed, President of Double R Productions: “Haven’t thought that through yet. But gone is my initial sad & now I’m mad. Viva la revolution.”

Matt Smith, CEO of SmithGifford: “I always try and see the Good in anything, and what I saw last night is this. Good Work Never underestimates the power of emotional marketing. It can blow away research and polling. We live…ed in a time where we have been dealing with marketing in a direct response universe. Where everyone thinks what they see online and analytics is gospel. With little regard to emotion and owning a feeling and harnessing passion. What we saw last night was a majority of people that don’t live in a analytics world, come out of there analog lives and voted with their heart. There are countless times where research and data has led to disastrous marketing, and gut driven, emotional marketing rules the day. So, Power to emotion, and following your gut. Maybe the Silver lining here is Marketing that is more heart felt, more passionate and less click driven!”

Robert Udowitz,Principal, RFP Associates: “In DC, change always means opportunity for communicators, no matter who wins an election. In particular, after an administration change we always see an uptick in hiring of agencies to support the association industry, as they need new communications and repositioning strategies. With Republicans in the executive and legislative branches, there will undoubtably be more activity on the Hill, requiring all forms of tactics inside and outside the Beltway.”

Rob Whittle, President and CEO of WilliamsWhittle: “Every single person who has been elected as an “outsider” has promised sweeping change in the way Washington works. From Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. What’s happened? The “establishment” has only become more entrenched. After a few weeks, everything will settle down and go back to business as usual. That holds true for the next four years as well.”

Steve Winter, President of Brotman |Winter|Fried Communications, a Sage Communications Company: “Given his war on the media, it can’t be good.  I fear for the first time he tosses a political cartoonist in jail.”

That’s their take, what do you think?

About the Author

Capitol Communicator

Capitol Communicator is a unique online and offline resource for Mid-Atlantic advertising, marketing, public relations, digital and media communications professionals. The e-magazine, e-newsletters and events bring together communications professionals, fostering community and providing important information; news; trends; education; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. Get more information by clicking on Capitol Communicator above.

1 Comment

  1. Sheri Singer

    This is the end of political polling as we know it. This phenomenon may have implications for PR/communications related market research. Are we missing large segments of stakeholders? The election ushers in a new way of thinking about how to conduct market research.


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