Presidential transitions happen every 4 or 8 years. Pretty standard. But this year? The transition from Obama to Trump is anything but standard. (Some people love the unpredictability, others loathe it. This isn’t a political post, so I’ll spare you my thoughts on that … at least for now.)
The dramatic shift in how politics gets done these days is creating a series of headaches for PR people. According to Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources, knowing President-elect Trump often tweets at 6am ET:
Multiple tech leaders say they or their PR folks have adjusted their schedules to make sure someone is up at 3 a.m. local time (PT) to catch the the tweets out of fear that a Trump tweet could crash their stock and put their company into a frenzy.
Many are saying they’ve learned how to get Trump Twitter alerts directly on their phone. Some are prepared with an action plan in case he tweets! And we aren’t talking about just a reply tweet – more of a full blown media campaign reply.
When have so many PR people felt compelled to add new sections to their crisis plans just in case they’re targeted by the new president? We are in unchartered territories.
This is especially concerning for publicly traded companies. A tweet isn’t just a tweet when it moves markets, as Toyata learned this week.
Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
The response? Toyota stock plummeted:
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) January 5, 2017
Toyota has been part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for nearly 60 years. Production volume or employment in the U.S. will not decrease as a result of our new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico announced in April 2015. With more than $21.9 billion direct investment in the U.S., 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry.
Two hours. That’s pretty impressive rapid response, particularly for such a large, global entity.
When we help clients develop’ crisis communication plans (for social media and/or PR), we always brainstorm hypothetical situations. What could possibly go wrong, and how can we be as prepared as possible ahead of time? Even if you have a solid crisis plan in place, I’m willing to bet it doesn’t account for “Trump tweets” — at least not yet. If you represent a large, visible brand, ask yourself: What could he possibly tweet that could impact your reputation? Are you prepared for a rapid response? In a crisis, if you’re not quick, you’re not relevant. Figuring out how to respond after being the target of a Trump tweet is too late. Now’s the time to plan. Here’s hoping you never have to use it. But, if you do have to activate the plan, you — and your boss — will be glad you took the time to prepare in advance.