Posts

NoKo: How NOT to do a photo op

All eyes are on the summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un as they decide North Korea’s nuclear future. Every step they take and move they make will be analyzed, and the opportunity for Kim Jong-un to use this meeting and its optics as propaganda is very real.

Though most of us won’t ever have to worry about appearing too friendly in a photo op, President Trump and members of his Administration should.

Kim Jong-un is the worst human rights violator of our time. He has killed members of his own family, he tortured and killed American Otto Warmbier, and there are estimates of up to 120,000 political prisoners in North Korea today.

Because we don’t want to legitimize the brutality of Kim Jong-un’s regime, it’s imperative that every photo op between him and Trump signal diplomacy, not friendship.

Here’s a study in what to do/what not to do from Secretary Pompeo’s first meeting with Kim Jong-un:

#1 — Keep your happiness in check

Yes, we want North Korea to be a better actor on the world stage, but it’s never a good look to laugh with a murderer. Maintain your composure and accept the gravity of the situation.

#2 — Remain cool

This photo is much better, but Pompeo’s hand on Kim Jong-un’s back seems a little too familiar. They aren’t friends. They will never be friends. So, there’s no need to act otherwise. The only acceptable contact is a hand shake to demonstrate business has been done.

#3 — Repeat after me

This photo is a perfect demonstration of how to pose with the worst human rights violator of our time. No smile means all business, and the only contact is a handshake which signals diplomacy not friendship.

This meeting will be a true test in discipline for President Trump as he loves a camera and a microphone. Fingers crossed the gravity of the situation will outweigh his desire to say cheese (or start another international bromance).

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: 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.

3 things to consider (and avoid) before you go on live TV

Last week was a study in what happens when props fail, both in public presentations and media interviews.

Props can be a great addition to help make your point, but please proceed with caution. You risk more by using the prop than not, so here are three things to consider (and avoid) before you go on live TV:

1. Use spell check! This floor poster made us LOL.

Last week, Sen. Maria Cantwell (now referred to as “Sen. Cantspell”) was trying to make a point against the Republican health care bill, yet forgot to spell check her prop. #YouHadOneJob

2. Props should never make an appearance in media interviews, and Kellyanne Conway proved why. Though she was using her flash cards to clear up confusion about the Russia saga, it didn’t seem to have the intended effect.

(We’re confused. We don’t understand.)

But also, the signs were a distraction from her main message. Instead of listening to what she said, we tuned her out to watch as she awkwardly broke the frame to pull the signs into the shot. When you have to pull props into a live shot, you’re doing it wrong.

3. Don’t be the punchline. Beware of any potential for a screen shot to be made into a meme. We saw this happen to President Trump when he lifted up a copy of a just-signed executive order. The prop took on a life of its own, not only creating memes, but also a meme generator.

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

B²: Energy + the Environment

On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to open up U.S. energy resources by removing a ban on off-shore drilling in several key locations. Then, on Saturday, Washington D.C. watched another environmental/climate protest take over the city.

With the environment in the news this week, to say it’s a “hot” button issue is an understatement.

But how do you come out on top in your interviews? Or have an intelligent conversation with someone who believes your science isn’t the same as their science?

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: “Do you think Trump’s Executive Order to allow for more drilling will hurt the environment?”

B²: “Not at all. In fact, it would be both environmentally and economically irresponsible to fail to steward all the resources we have here in the U.S. <Insert talking point>.”

 

The talking point you pivot to can highlight job creation, economic growth, national security—relying on hostile governments for energy, as well as the environment. Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize that an all-of-the-above energy strategy will help us better steward our environment for this and future generations.

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

B²: SCOTUS Nominee

One week down, so many more to go.

Love him or hate him, agree or disagree, he’s wasted no time delivering on his campaign promises. And in a few short hours, he’ll do it again.

In case you haven’t heard, or checked President Trump’s Twitter feed, he plans to announce his pick for Supreme Court at 8:00 PM:

No matter who he chooses, you can bet the #1 question reporters will ask is whether Democrats should block his nominee based on Republican behavior towards Merrick Garland. Need a block and bridge for that? We thought so.

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: “Don’t you think Democrats have every right to block a vote since Republicans did the same thing?”

B²: “It’s not the same thing. We were in the middle of a lame duck session, and the Senate Republicans took a stand for the American people. <Insert talking point.>”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize the timing and pivot to qualifications. Nominating a Supreme Court justice in a lame duck session is risky business as elected officials face few consequences and voters don’t have a say. Senate Republicans were just defending their constituents. But that lame duck session has ended and the Congress America voted for is back to work. Democrats should respect the process and move forward by examining the nominee’s qualifications.

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