What’s going on in the Trump administration? Well, that depends on who you ask.
After the abrupt and surprising resignation of now former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, fingers are being pointed every direction, and Trump is doing his best to see that nothing sticks on him.
Meanwhile, the nation’s press is fighting mad. Anchors are eviscerating the administration on television Print agencies are passing around annotated transcripts of Trump’s recent solo press conference. During that show, the president doubled down on his claims that any agency printing news about the Flynn resignation is printing "fake news."
When asked if the leaks were fake, Trump said, "No," but the news is fake.
Viewers were left to make of that what they would. And, of course, they did.
The country is as divided as ever, and the media outlets that feed off that divisiveness have a bumper crop of a week's worth of pouring gasoline on the carefully-tended fires they've stoked.
Were there multiple members of the Trump campaign team in cahoots with the Russians, or is all of it a hit job on the folks trying to "Make America Great Again"?
Both narratives were pushed out early — and often.
Meanwhile, those in the middle who were just trying to figure out what’s really going on were left fairly bereft of any tangible narratives to grab onto.
Curiously absent from all of these conversations were the two men at the center of it all — Vice President Mike Pence and Michael Flynn. The vice president was the person Flynn reportedly "misled" (or "incompleted," depending on which narrative you read).
Yet, neither man was in front of the cameras or directly quoted in the news after the fact.
This, in and of itself, added to message confusion.
And message confusion is the order of the day. Two disparate sides are certain they know what really happened.
While most of us may never know what really happened, or if anything untoward really happened at all. To get these answers, the media will have to push past the smoke, stepping outside of its own spin to see things clearly. Then they have to communicate with a public that does not trust them and has already decided what’s really going on based on listening to the media they've chosen to believe.
When dealing with a lockstep lack of trust, step one is to regain that trust.
The media is, in many ways, facing a major public relations crisis. Even the partisans who used to trust one side or another are drifting, frustrated, and suspicious.
The people "the news" depends on as the product they sell to — as their customers — are increasingly missing in action, going elsewhere for information. Or, nowhere at all.
The media has the responsibility to clear up message confusion.
First, they have to get people listening again.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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