WSJ: Four Steps for Businesses to Reply to a Trump Twitter Attack–Before It Happens

December 12, 2016

In an analysis piece for the Wall Street Journal, Firehouse Strategies’ Alex Conant writes that there are four steps for businesses to reply to a Trump Twitter attack before it happens:

1. Assess risk. It’s impossible to predict what Mr. Trump will do or say on a given day. But some things predictably draw his fire: During the campaign, he attacked Ford and Nabisco after he saw reports that they planned to move jobs to Mexico. He has criticized companies that distanced themselves from his brand or that have government contracts he considered controversial. Businesses can review their practices and contracts to identify things that might trigger Mr. Trump.

2. Prepare a response. The time to prepare is now–not after the president-elect tweets. On Twitter, speed kills–not only will thousands of people instantly read and share Trump tweets, but news reports will also broadcast his criticism to millions more, amplifying the power of Mr. Trump’s criticism, even inadvertently. Response time is measured in minutes and hours, not days. Having a plan for how to respond to a Trump tweet–including pre-approved tweets–could save valuable time when it comes to defending a company’s reputation.

3. Establish a back channel. Boeing’s CEO was smart to speak directly with the president-elect on the phone about the Air Force One contracts Mr. Trump said were too costly. Companies will need to respond to Trump attacks publicly but can also work behind the scenes to deescalate controversy (which involves trying to prevent additional tweets). Quickly establishing an open line of communication with the president-elect’s team could provide clarity for how best to respond. Knowing whom to call and identifying trusted intermediaries could help resolve conflicts more effectively.

4. Watch TV like Donald Trump. While the targets of Trump attacks may seem random, a correlation has been suggested between TV reports and Mr. Trump’s Twitter ire. That means companies need to monitor TV news 24/7.

Read the full story here.