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Religious Liberty, Presidential Pardons, and #MeToo

So much has happened, and it’s only Tuesday. Given the busy, busy news cycle, we thought we’d highlight the teachable moments from yesterday’s top stories:

#1 — U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop

This story has been making headlines for a while, so Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop are now household names. Which is the point. You want to fight for someone rather than against someone, and the only way you’re able to do so is by connecting a face to an issue. The importance of this case for religious liberty doesn’t change, but you’ll win more hearts and minds any time you can talk about a person instead of a wonky policy or legal case.

#2 — Trump threatens to pardon himself

In a bright and early Monday morning tweet, President Trump reminded the Twitterverse that he has the power to pardon himself:

In case you’re asked to respond, here’s a block and bridge:

Q: President Trump claimed he has the power to pardon himself – do you support his claim?

A: “The Constitution does allow for a President to pardon himself, but my hope is that the result of this investigation will be clear and swift and not warrant any threat of a presidential pardon.” Then immediately transition to your talking point as we assume you don’t intend to address presidential pardons in your interview.

#3 — Bill Clinton makes an impeachment claim

Bill Clinton is back in the spotlight to promote a book he coauthored with James Patterson, which you may not have realized because the sound bites from his latest interview cover every topic BUT the book. This is a PR nightmare made worse by Clinton’s hypocritical attempts to label “bad behavior” in others. To avoid a similar fate for you or your boss, remember that it’s not a good move to call out someone else’s indiscretions when you haven’t apologized for your own. It’s best to start with “I’m sorry.”

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.

B²: Trump’s Approach

Not one to disappoint, President Trump has given us a lot to talk about recently. Love it or hate it, we can all agree that his approach is like nothing we’ve seen, and the media desperately want to make sure you realize what a unique situation this is.

You might think the focus of your interview is tax reform. But CAUTION –  the likelihood of fielding a question about Trump’s most recent press conferences and/or rallies is more like a promise than a possibility.

So, let’s talk through how you can redirect the conversation to policy and leave the rest to the pundits.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “What do you make of Trump’s approach in his first 100 days? Do you think it’s effective?”

B²: “I’m not surprised. The same approach he took on the campaign trail is the same approach he’s taking as President, but I’ll leave it to the pundits to analyze. Instead, what I’m setting my focus on is policy. <Insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, do yourself a favor and block and bridge questions on Trump’s communication style. Unless you’re tasked with analyzing his delivery, you risk sabotaging or sacrificing your policy message in favor of personality. If policy is where our focus should be, then do your part to make sure that conversation continues!

Trump’s approach and delivery may be different than anything we’ve seen, and there is room to discuss how this difference will play out over the next four years. But save that topic of conversation for happy hour and not your Fox News hit.

Like that famous phrase “always be closing,” DMG recommends you “always talk policy.”

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

B²: Protests at Inauguration

Expectations have NOT been managed for Friday’s inaugural festivities. (Thanks, MSM).

We’ve been promised lots of protests in DC and around the country by the likes of Michael Moore, Bernie Sanders, pro-marijuana activists, those leading the Women’s March, and elected officials who are choosing not to attend. The opportunities to analyze/judge/mock will be numerous…and tempting. The anticipation is almost too much.

But what if (in the name of unity!) you refrain? What if (in the name of unity!) you acknowledge the division in such a way that closes the gap rather than widens it?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “What do you make of the protests?”

B²: “I’m so glad we live in a country where people can voice their disagreement, and I hope that it’s done in a peaceful way. But Trump protestors and Trump supporters have a lot more in common than they realize. Americans, as a whole, are overwhelmingly tired of <insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, choose a common ground topic. No matter your party affiliation, it’s safe to assume that most voters are tired of politics as usual, the sluggish economy, threats from abroad, etc.

We’re not asking you to turn a blind eye to the division, but focus on what issues spark agreement instead of the fanfare surrounding the disagreement. No one wins if we’re constantly trying to talk over each other, and Americans like to win.

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

B²: “Is half the country racist?”

For an accurate description of how a large majority of Americans felt on November 8, 2016, please see below:

Neither candidate was ideal for many Repubs or Dems, but those who showed up at the polls had to choose someone. Americans voted, the Electoral College confirmed that vote, and now we’re days away from making it official via that ever important ceremony called Inauguration.

But division remains, most disturbingly evident in the cries of “racist!” towards Trump supporters.

True, racism does exist in this country and is deeply concerning.

True, some voters showed up in full support of everything the president-elect has said or done.

But also true? The majority of voters cast their vote for a variety of reasons. It’s unfair to assume otherwise and perpetuate the narrative that half the country is racist. Let’s be reasonable.

What if you’re asked about it? Can you pivot away from an absurd claim and point to bigger issues? Yes, yes you can. And here’s how.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “We’re preparing for the inauguration of Donald Trump, a man who was elected to office by racist voters. What do you think this means for the next 4 years?”

B²: “That’s unfair. Voters, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent showed up on Election Day for a variety of reasons. For example, the issue that most influenced my vote is <insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, expand on the myriad of issues weighing heavy on voters’ minds – Supreme Court, jobs, national security/ISIS, etc. You have enough material to create talking points for days.

The most important thing you have to do is refute the “racist” claim. It’s a narrative the media just can’t quit, so let’s help them. Refrain from saying what Trump voters “aren’t,” but rather quickly dismiss the generalization as absurd and/or unfair and then point to bigger issues that likely influenced the electorate.

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

B²: First 100 days

Christmas Vacation, why ya gotta end?

But alas, it has. If you didn’t return to work last week, you did this week. Let’s ease back into the crazy with the good news first – 2016 is finished. We did it!

Now for the real news…all that happened in 2016 is ready to play out in 2017, and the world is watching. Cue the fast-approaching first 100 days of the Trump Administration.

(Taking guesses for the number of times the phrase “first 100 days” is mentioned between now and April 29. We’ll start: 235 million.)

All that to say, you better prepare to field questions and talk about what has been promised, what you hope to see, and calm down the Chicken Littles in the process.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “What do you think the first 100 days will look like?”

B²: “Donald Trump made a lot of promises, and it’s important to hold him accountable. But we also have to wait and see what moves the new administration makes. What I hope to see <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next – Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, EPA regulations, the UN and Israel, TPP, immigration, etc. – manage expectations. Remind people that we have to let the first 100 days play out, but also we have to hold the president-elect and his administration accountable as they make moves. It’s a careful balance achieved via reasonable conversation on both sides of the aisle.

After all, there will be lots more “100-days” in the next four years.

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

B²: Do It For America

American Flag Flying

After Donald Trump’s victory early Wednesday morning, it became very clear that sore losers across the country were not going down without a fight.

#NotMyPresident began trending on social media, American flags were lit on fire on college campuses, and anti-Trump graffiti defaced historic monuments like “The Thinker” in Philly. And in less dramatic, but just as poignant protest, social media accounts of friends were ripe with disappointment, anger, and even hatred towards the President-Elect and the millions of Americans who demanded their voice be heard.

Our country needs to chill out, whether it wants to or not. The people voted and it wasn’t even close. Let’s respect the process.

How can you, regardless of who you voted for, take a cue from Trump’s, Clinton’s, and Obama’s speeches that it’s time to heal, unite, and move forward?

If you haven’t already, you’re sure to be asked, “What do you think about Trump being president?” Whether you’re a fan, a protestor, or someone who simply relishes the end to 596 days of campaigning, there is a right way to answer. With grace.

Thankfully it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

If you supported Donald Trump:

Q: “What do you think about Trump being president?”

B²: “I’m thrilled that the American people stood up to politicians who promise one thing and do another, but I also know the we must hold Trump accountable to the promises he made lest he fall into the same camp. For example, <insert talking point>.”

If you didn’t support Donald Trump:

Q:

“What do you think about Trump being president?”

B²: “While he wasn’t my choice, I’m glad the American people are fed up with politicians who promise one thing and do another. But now it’s time to <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, it’s important to stand firm, even if expressing an unpopular opinion. Just remember that discernment and kindness go a long way when sharing and listening. It was a tough election with unpopular choices. Though it might be tempting to disparage someone for their vote, don’t. Instead, look forward to healing the divide. The common ground we can all find and occupy? The election is over (yay!).

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

B²: And the winner is…!

clintrum

14 days and this whole crazy season comes to (or should come to) a close.

We wrote in January about how to B² (block and bridge) prediction questions in reference to the primaries and protecting your tax status. That advice still applies, just replace “primary” with “general” and go forth.

But the next two weeks promise news reports, headlines, and tweets that will complicate the narrative. It’s not just about “who do you think will win on November 8th,” but also rigged elections, phony polls to suppress voter turnout, and Trump’s claim that he will accept the election results if he wins.

Not only do you need to be careful of predicting the winner, but you have to take into account all the crazy too. Get ready.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q:

“With polls pointing to a victory for Hillary, is there a way forward for Donald Trump?”

B²:

“Voters will decide the outcome in a couple weeks. But regardless of who wins the presidency, or what political party wins the majority in Congress, an issue that will be of immediate concern is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t give additional air time to predictions or unsubstantiated claims. That isn’t your business, and you risk burying your message. Let pundits hash out the polls and conspiracy theories. You stick to your message and talk policy.

NOTE: This advice also applies to down-ballot races.

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

B²: A Rigged Election

Election In United States Of America. Voter Holds Envelope In Ha

Over the weekend, Donald Trump and company (shout out to Rudy Giuliani!) began to speculate about the possibility of a rigged election. These cries have only become louder and more numerous in recent days. And you can bet they will continue if the poll numbers increasingly favor Hillary Clinton.

Whether you find any validity in Trump and company’s claims, it’s a great moment to turn the conversation to voter ID laws, and what it means to move through the election process in a free and fair way.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q:

“Donald Trump has started talking about the possibility of a ‘rigged election.’ Do you think he’s right?”

B²:

“We can all agree that a free and fair election is everyone’s goal, and those who meet the requirements to vote should be allowed to vote. One way we make sure those requirements are met is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, move away from talk that includes a “rigged election” and similar conspiracy theories. Use this moment to have a serious conversation about voter ID laws, an issue that resurfaces every election cycle. If we want to guarantee free and fair elections, we need to start outlining what that process looks like and why. Last minute cries of “it’s rigged!” don’t resonate, especially at the end of an election cycle that seemingly won’t quit.

For more talking points on how to defend voter ID, read Beverly’s column in The Daily Signal.

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

B²: Is it too late now to say sorry?

fullsizerender

Say it with me: “I’m sorry.”

Because the first 30 minutes of Sunday night’s debate focused only on the scandalous, it’s obvious that Trump, Clinton, and surrogates should reevaluate their crisis management strategies.

What doesn’t work? Dismissing the accusations, pivoting to another’s bad behavior to take the spotlight off your own, and/or lying. These strategies get you nowhere with undecided voters. With so many words and actions to apologize for between the two candidates, it seems like a lesson in how to say “I’m sorry” is applicable.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q:

“What do you have to say about <insert scandal>?”

B² (if you’re the accused):

“I made a mistake and sincerely apologize to the American people. But I assure you I’ve learned from the mistakes in my past and will do everything I can to prove that as president my words and actions will represent all people in this country.”

B² (if you’re speaking on behalf of the accused): “Donald Trump* made a mistake and sincerely apologized to the American people. When he says he’s learned from his mistakes and will do everything he can to prove that he’ll represent all people as president, I believe him.”

*Can be replaced with “Hillary Clinton”

Wherever you take the conversation next, make sure your statement includes an apology. If you made a mistake, admit it. Voters will forgive an indiscretion if you ask forgiveness rather than try to explain it away or cover it up. And if you’re speaking on behalf of someone who made a mistake, refer back to their apology. Just like the accused, you can’t dismiss (or make light of) the charges. It may not seem obvious in 2016, but honesty still counts for something.

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