This is why Donald Trump posing as a publicist should infuriate everyoneMay 6, 2016
I make my living as a publicist in a profession with well-written rules. We represent our clients’ best interests to the media, and make that fact abundantly clear. My name goes on every news release I write. I introduce myself as the public relations source on phone calls. I tip my hand generously to let the media know that I am a biased source, an advocate who should be appreciated as one. Heck, I refuse to even post in the online comments section of an article if it’s about my client.
Those rules make the game remarkably transparent. I deliver the news in the best possible light. It’s up to the media to find and report the other side of the argument, and most do. And therein lays the real value of my service. It’s in the checks and balances. That third party validation that the media confers on a topic. The fact that a thinking person reviewed an assertion, did their own research, and came to a conclusion. Without that authentication, I might as well be selling ads.
Which is why Donald Trump’s sophomoric, gamesmanship acting as a sycophantic publicist is so infuriating. By changing the game, Trump risks invalidating the entire process, and diminishing my value as a professional. By reducing the very serious role public relations people play in shaping news, he makes the game more opaque, all to the detriment of my profession, the media’s credibility, and the public’s ability to believe what they see or read.
Ironically, in today’s world of social media, we’re all our own publicists. Polishing our own brand to make ourselves seem smarter and happier than we actually are. But at least the receiver knows who’s doing the talking; it’s a low but genuine threshold of transparency. And, one that Trump didn’t have the courage to meet. In doing so, Trump’s con takes away the sanitizing effect of simple sunshine and negates the media’s ability to question the veracity of a source and the legitimacy of a story.