TUESDAY TIP: Tax Day Talkers

While we’ve cheered the passage of tax reform at the federal level, there’s still plenty to discuss and reform at the state level. And Tax Day presents you with the perfect opportunity to do so!

One way to highlight the need for tax reform at the state level is to use comparisons. Comparisons are powerful, because oftentimes people don’t realize how good or bad their state’s economic performance is until they view it in light of neighboring states or the majority of states around the country.

But there are a lot of states, and a lot of numbers to accompany each state’s economic performance.

For this reason, we suggest you check out the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) just released report Rich States, Poor States. It breaks down your state’s performance and outlook based on fifteen policy variables. This is a fantastic resource you should use to cite data points that support tax reform at the state level.

Now, go forth, play up that state pride, and use Tax Day for good!

TUESDAY TIP: Equal Pay Day

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, Equal Pay Day “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.”

Excuse me? If true, this is horrifying. And if true, it’s easy to understand why people usually present an emotional argument in defense of the gender pay gap.

But the defenders are wrong, and we have the data to prove it.

Watch as Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute summarizes what the data tells us about the gender pay gap:

The good news is we have facts on facts on facts to combat this myth. The bad news is we’re trying to dismantle an emotional and false narrative. Tread carefully.

Here’s how we recommend you respond when confronted with an unfair question or false claim about Equal Pay Day:

Q: <Insert false claim or unfair question about the gender pay gap>.

A: “If what you say is true, we should all be outraged. But the reality is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, validate the emotion of the other side before you make your case. If you don’t, people will assume you don’t care. And if people assume you don’t care, they’ll stop listening. Reiterate that you would share their outrage if the disparity existed. It’s just you know it doesn’t. So, really, you’re the bearer of very good news. Adopt this approach, and we guarantee you’ll change hearts and minds on the gender pay “gap.”

Interested in DMG’s services? Contact us! We’d love to work with you.

Secrets for Q&A Success

Speaking in front of a live audience can be terrifying. Not only do you have to prepare and present talking points to keep the people engaged, but you will likely have to answer questions at the end.

Sometimes Q&A provides insightful commentary and allows you to talk more in-depth about an issue; other times, you field a filibuster and/or hostile questions you’d rather not answer.

It’s a risky situation, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and the audience.

Here’s what we suggest:

Step #1: Set ground rules. You might think this is an unnecessary and condescending step, because who doesn’t know how to handle themselves during Q&A?? Turns out, a lot of people.

Before you take the first question, explain that you will only respond to questions (NOT comments), and the questions need to be brief to allow as many people as possible to participate.

Step #2: Don’t follow Justin Trudeau’s lead.

We get it, Q&A is unscripted and less formal. Anything can happen! But a joke or petty correction that leaves you apologizing days later means it was better left unsaid.

Even if you disagree with the premise of the question, or the words/phrases used, don’t insult the asker. Kindly reframe the question, and then block and bridge to the response you want to give.

Now, go rock that Q&A.

How to avoid speculation

Much has been made about the timing of a big legislative victory for Republicans before the 2018 midterms. Will tax reform be that victory?

President Trump certainly hopes so – remember that one time he asked for a bill by Thanksgiving?

Because no one knows for sure what will happen or when, you’re left to speculate if asked about a timeline. But don’t give in!

Here’s how we recommend you respond. Hint: remain hopeful.

 

Q: “Will the GOP get tax reform done by the end of the year?”

A: “I can’t speculate on a timeline, but I am hopeful that Americans will finally get a tax break. <Insert talking point.>”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize all the reasons you think tax reform should pass, not whether it will pass. And remain hopeful in your response. Tax reform is a good and necessary move, and we want to emphasize that message whenever we’re asked about it.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

 

TUESDAY TIP: How to talk tax reform

The Republican’s tax reform bill entered the markup process in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday. Given that passage of this bill would lead to the largest change in the tax code since 1986, this is a BFD.

With every tax reform discussion, the talking points write themselves. The Left cries about a tax cut for the rich, while conservatives support the idea that more money in the hands of job creators leads to…more jobs.

This attempt is no different. The current proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% (The highest in the developed world! Higher than France!) to 20% is significant, and has ignited the aforementioned class warfare discussion.

(FUN FACT: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were all too happy to champion a cut in the corporate tax rate a few short years ago.) 

So, how can you fight false rhetoric when advocating for corporate tax reform?

Don’t let the other side define the premise. They will always use words and phrases like: “big business,” “corporation,” and “the rich,” even if the majority of people who stand to benefit from the tax cut don’t fall into these categories. For those of us who own small businesses and know how to operate a calculator (like DMG!), we know that the “corporate” and/or “big business” labels don’t define us.

Words matter, so make sure you talk about “small businesses,” “start-ups,” or “family-owned companies” to paint an accurate picture of who will benefit from this tax cut.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Don’t be like Phil Davison…

It’s one of our favorite political campaign speeches EVER. Not because it’s great, but because it’s so incredibly awful.

So while we suffer through the last two weeks of a few ho-hum campaigns (ahem, VA), we thought we’d remember more exciting times. Like the times of Phil Davison…

Phil Davison, a Republican running for Stark County Treasurer in Ohio, delivered this impassioned speech before a vote for nomination to the office. What starts out as a run-of-the-mill candidacy speech, quickly escalates to full out screaming. Perhaps even more entertaining than the sudden escalation of emotion and volume are the times his outbursts seem uncontrollable.

“AND A MASTER’S DEGREE IN COMMUNICATION.”

“I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MY TONE TONIGHT.”

“THIS IS THE OPPORTUNITY WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.”

While Phil offers us endless entertainment, there’s a fairly obvious lesson to be learned about emotion and volume when speaking in public or in your media interviews. Emotion is great. It connects you to your audience, makes you seem more approachable, and keeps people tuned in. However, when you turn your performance switch “on,” make sure slow and steady wins the race. Avoid the zero to 60 approach, unless you want to end up on CNN or the Washington Post’s “best political rants of all time” list.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

Trump, Twitter, and You

Twitter has been the hallmark of Donald Trump’s communication style from the beginning of his presidential campaign until now. The likelihood that he’ll suddenly log off is laughable, especially as we’ve watched him receive overwhelming coverage for these recent statements:

But as the Trump administration moves forward, his tweets will only increase in importance. (READ: midterm elections, relationship with North Korea, tax reform success, etc.)

If you haven’t fielded a question yet about his social media presence, you probably will…and soon.

So, how do you keep the conversation focused on your message instead of the world’s most famous Twitter account?

Here’s our suggestion for how to navigate:

 

Q: “What do you think about <insert latest tweet>?”

A: “I’ll let the TV pundits and communications experts hash out the effectiveness of his Twitter strategy, but when it comes to <insert talking point>.”

 

By focusing on the substance of the policy behind the tweet, you can sidestep the semantics for the most important thing: the issue. Don’t fall prey to arm-chair quarterbacking the tweet itself, focus on substance and you’ll make better use of your 30 seconds to clearly deliver your message.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Pocket Man

Last Tuesday, President Trump made his General Assembly appearance before the United Nations.

What most will remember is Trump’s designation of KJU as “Rocket Man.” An apt nickname for the North Korean despot who can’t quit launching missiles at the good guys. (For more about why DMG loved this nickname, click here.)

But something else happened that caught DMG’s eye: he wore a pocket square. This was the first time (in recent memory) that President Trump wore a pocket square when speaking in public.

Shout out to the Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney for the quick turnaround:

The addition of the pocket square highlighted how Trump dressed for the event and the audience—something we encourage our clients to do as well.

Day-to-day, when talking to hardworking Americans, Trump doesn’t wear a pocket square because he wants to seem relatable: Most average Americans don’t wear pocket squares!

We also discourage our clients from wearing pocket squares for this same reason, especially if talking about minimum wage increases or “income inequality.”

But Trump was addressing world leaders, and the pocket square added a level of seriousness to his presentation.

Remember to do the same in your TV interviews. Follow Trump’s lead and dress for the audience. 

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

(Bradley) Chelsea Manning & Emojis

Bradley Chelsea Manning is in the news again.

Not for leaking 750,000 classified military docs to WikiLeaks and being court-martialed, but for the awkward acceptance to and very quick dismissal from an esteemed Harvard fellowship.

Manning took to Twitter to voice disbelief and outrage with the help of 17,000 emojis.

Don’t get us wrong, DMG loves a well-timed emoji. As they become more mainstream, using emojis in your online message can be a great way to emphasize your statement.

But it’s a careful balance. The setting matters, and you’re doing it wrong if you use more emojis than words to communicate a serious message.

Manning’s over-use of emjois weakened the “I should be a Harvard fellow” message, and legitimized Harvard’s decision to revoke the fellowship.

A good rule of thumb for you and your online communication? When you use more emojis than words, you’re not communicating.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: How Not to Apologize

Hillary Clinton’s latest book drops today, but we’ve already been blessed with various audio samples and memes:

The content is no surprise – Hillary takes very little credit and passes most of the blame to Trump, Sanders, Comey, Putin, etc. IT’S NOT HER FAULT, ok?

Except most Americans believe she is to blame for certain things, like that pesky email server. So let’s take a minute to review Hillary’s un-apologies and suggest a better way forward. It’s a case study in what not to do.

Email Server

Hillary’s un-apology: “Mostly, I was furious at myself. It was a dumb mistake. But an even dumber ‘scandal.'”

So close, Hillary! So close. A better response would’ve been…

“Mostly, I was furious at myself. It was a dumb mistake, and I’m deeply sorry for my oversight. But I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned…”

Admit fault, total and complete fault, and focus on the future and what you’ve learned. You may think it’s a dumb scandal, but a lot of people disagree. Just apologize and move on.

“Deplorables”

Hillary’s un-apology: “I regret handing Trump a political gift with my ‘deplorables’ comment…[I’m sorry that people] misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters.”

So, you’re not sorry for calling Trump supporters a nasty name. But rather, you’re sorry they misunderstood your intentions?

Help us, help you, Hillary. An actual apology sounds like:

“I regret calling Trump supporters deplorable. American voters are hard-working, well-intentioned people who contribute to this great nation. I’m thankful to live in a country where we can disagree on political issues, but still enjoy the freedom to do so.”

DO NOT alienate a segment of the voting population by calling them names. You may need their support in four years.

In case you ever have to make a public apology, here’s how we suggest you do it:

1. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. DO NOT follow Hillary Clinton’s lead.

2. Admit fault – total and complete – and promise to do better in the future.

People just want an apology. If you attempt to pass blame, it weakens your apology.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.