Preparing for the Global Impact of the Incoming Trump Administration

December 22, 2016

Trump's impact on businessSince his electoral victory last month, the “new normal” in day-to-day business operations includes wondering how the incoming Trump Administration will govern, and what impact the governance will have on corporations, c-suites and general counsels as well as stock price, reputation and ability to operate.

Particularly, President-Elect Trump is shining a spotlight on corporate practices in America and threatening “retribution” for companies that move operations out of the United States, as well as a 35 percent tariff on goods sold back to the country. From the Carrier deal to keep 1,000 jobs in Indiana to singling out Boeing on Twitter related to production costs for Air Force One, the President-Elect is targeting corporate America’s practices and allocation of resources as a measure of his success as a President.

Furthermore, during his post-election tour stop in Iowa, it was reported on Twitter, by the Los Angeles Times, President-Elect Trump “asked his team for a list of 10 companies who were outsourcing jobs” and he is “calling their leaders.” Have you considered how you would respond if you received a call from President-elect Trump?

There are four key steps you should take to prepare your organization for the incoming Administration:

1. Assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Your organization may be scrutinized under the lens of how it is helping or hurting the U.S. economy. It is critically important to honestly assess and validate your organization’s impact on the U.S. economy and have a solid understanding of the intensity of previous criticism and commentary from policymakers and key influencers. Sharing economic impact studies, investments in purpose, community outreach and other contributions to the economy is key to neutralizing potential criticism.

2. Listen and learn.
Tracking the President-Elect on Twitter is table stakes. If you haven’t already, you should engage several types of listening and monitoring with the goal of understanding the sentiment of various audiences and proactively preventing and preparing for crisis activation. Among the listening you should activate includes:

  • External communication: Understanding how key reporters, influencers and policymakers are talking about your organization in the context of the incoming Trump Administration is of critical importance.
  • Internal communication: Tracking external communication only provides one piece of the puzzle. Your employees and internal stakeholders can serve as your own focus groups and predictive analysts in helping to understand your strengths, vulnerabilities and concerns.
  • Issue tracking: Now, more than ever, it is important to activate public affairs on your extended team to help you understand the nuances of the issues and policies being discussed in Washington, and how those issues may impact your organization.

3. Create visually appealing content to tell your story.
As our Worldwide President Barri Rafferty shared post-election, the future is visual, and short. Visual storytelling stands side-by-side with copy-writing headlines and memorable sound bites as essential elements of any communications strategy. The President-Elect’s preferred medium for communication is Twitter. Responding in-kind is critical, and the most impactful way to do so is through visually appealing content such as imagery, videos and infographics.

4. Identify, educate and activate allies.
The days of simply having your cross-functional management team aligned on potential crisis scenarios and identifying a spokesperson are limited. You and your extended public affairs team should cultivate allies among policymakers, influencers and regulators so they have an understanding of the value your organization contributes to the U.S. and global economy and are prepared to validate your contributions when called upon.

Preparation is key to successfully navigating the “new normal” in Washington and beyond. When President-Elect Trump asks his team for the list of the next 10 companies whose leaders he wants to call, taking the aforementioned steps and being prepared to answer the call will make all the difference to your reputation and bottom-line.

KayAnn P. Schoeneman is an accomplished public and corporate affairs specialist with nearly 20 years of experience. She has led complex national and international public and corporate affairs campaigns for foreign governments, Fortune 100 companies and leading trade associations. Among her areas of expertise include reputation management, ally development, coalition building, issue advocacy, influencer engagement and research and measurement. KayAnn has been active in national, state and local politics for more than two decades. She is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, American Association of Public Opinion Research and the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of PR. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University for the Master of Arts in Communication program. You may follow her on Twitter @Kschoeneman.