Another Trump-ed Up Lawsuit

 Another Trump ed Up Lawsuit

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly Okay) for Donald Trump.

The Donald is at it again. Real estate magnate and reality TV show star Donald Trump announced yesterday that he is suing comedian and talk show host Bill Maher for $5 million dollars. Why? Maher jokingly asked Trump to prove via a birth certificate that he wasn’t fathered by an orangutan.

This was, of course, Maher’s take on Trump’s infamous “birther” challenge, in which Trump offered to donate $5 million to the charity of President Obama’s choice if he would show a birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii. The President refused to engage and the whole thing blew over faster than Trump’s hair at the helipad.

Now Trump has risen to Maher’s bait, brandishing a birth certificate that lists his father as Fred Trump (not an orangutan). He announced the lawsuit to – where else? Fox & Friends, and – when else? Just as his reality show, The Apprentice, is starting another run. Trump says he’s going to donate the money to charity, and no, he didn’t think Maher’s comment was a joke. Maher’s Tweeted response: “What?? Really? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,” endquote.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly Okay) for Donald Trump. This is just business as usual in his PR stunt-ridden world.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: The old saw about there being no such thing as bad publicity is a lie. Drumming up publicity for one’s TV show with a news-grabbing stunt is a wise move, but why always be the man we love to hate? Instead of humorlessly producing a birth certificate and ordering Maher to pay up, why not turn the joke to advantage by offering to donate the $5 million to the charity of Maher’s choice? Then Trump would have his publicity and appear to be the bigger man, and a generous one – as everyone knows he can afford to be. By doing it his way, Trump comes across as a bully and a blowhard. Well, at least he’s on brand.

Trump Too Easily Trumped

 Trump Too Easily Trumped

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Trump PR machine.

What was always going to be the most likely follow-up question to Donald Trump following his challenge to President Obama over his academic transcripts? The Guardian newspaper asked it and inadvertently scored a PR coup by getting the Trump organization very ruffled. It’s now clear: The Donald wants others to show theirs, but he won’t show his.

Michael Cohen, Executive Vice President at the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump, had a wildly unsuccessful but widely released phone call with Guardian journalist Adam Gabbat. The straightforward request from Gabbat? Would Mr. Trump make his own college transcripts available? The conversation went south from the get-go, with Cohen quickly turning defensive and changing PR tack no less than three times. Cohen breathlessly defended his boss, saying there are thousands of books written about Trump, adding with bravado that there is more information available on Donald Trump than “pretty much anybody on the planet.”

A journalist asking Trump for his own transcripts was always going to be the most likely outcome of Trump’s much-hyped challenge to the President. Following the PR basics of simple scenario forecasting might have been step one in an overall PR strategy. In this case, Trump’s counsel did his client no favors.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Trump PR machine.

The PR Takeaway: Don’t just expect the unexpected; expect the expected. There is nothing surprising about a journalist making the same challenge that Donald Trump just issued to the President of the United States. This was one contingency that should have been easily anticipated. Making Trump’s transcripts publicly available before the announcement would have taken the wind out of the sails of Trump’s critics. Standing on a platform of transparency and access to information inevitably results in reciprocal demands. This was a Q&A and scenario plan that even a PR intern would have known to prepare in advance.

To listen to the conversation, click here and scroll down to the end of the page.

What’s your opinion of Donald Trump’s challenge to POTUS, and the subsequent PR gaffe? Give us your PR Verdict!

Donald Trump, Master Buffoon

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The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for Donald Trump.

The art of buffoonery hit new highs yesterday with the announcement by Donald Trump of what he had been promising for three days would be HUGE news. Trump hit Trump-friendly airwaves such as Fox earlier in the week, saying that on Wednesday he would make a BIG announcement concerning the President. Speculation was rife. What could The Donald know that every political operative in a closing election race hadn’t already hoped to find as political ammunition? The big reveal was yesterday at noon on YouTube.

The Donald’s BIG news was… nothing of the sort. Continuing with a variation on the birther argument, he called Barack Obama “the least transparent President in American history” (Richard Nixon might have sprung to mind). The Donald then congratulated himself in the video for having “gotten the President to release his long-form birth certificate – or whatever it may be.” He now says he has a deal for the President.

If Obama “hands over” his college records and passport application records to Trump, he will give $5 million to a charity of the President’s choice. As long as this is done “to my satisfaction,” says The Donald immodestly, he will deliver the check immediately. The forms must be in by October 31. He urged the President to meet the challenge and added that he was speaking on behalf of the entire US population.

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco ) to Trump. Donald, you’re fired.

The PR Takeaway: Big talk and bluster equal buffoonery. Donald Trump, the Master Buffoon, has sealed his own PR image with this latest YouTube insanity. His video and language give no reason to suggest this is anything other than a self-serving publicity stunt. Does he know something we don’t? The much anticipated news “from the Desk of Donald Trump” was well-packaged as an unreservedly ego-driven publicity stunt, but the more publicity (of this type), the lower his credibility falls. At this rate, it may soon be political suicide to be publicly aligned with Trump. The sneaking suspicion is that he may not care.

To see the video, click here.

What’s your opinion of The Donald’s latest publicity stunt? Give us your PR Verdict!

Is it Embarrassing to be a Friend of Donald Trump?

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The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance.

Is it embarrassing to be a friend of Donald Trump? That must be the question the Romney campaign is currently pondering.  Instead of dominating the airwaves with his victory in the Texan primary, Mitt Romney found himself in the uncomfortable position yesterday of responding to questions about his pal Donald Trump while both were on stage at a Las Vegas fundraiser.

“The Donald” resurrected yesterday the now widely discredited red herring that the President was not born in the United States.  Before appearing with Romney at the fundraiser, The Donald took to the airwaves and told CNN “a lot of people don’t think it was an authentic (birth) certificate.”  Sounding like a conspiracy theorist claiming the lunar landing never happened, he added, “CNN won’t report it but many people do not believe it was authentic.”

Trump just raised over $600,00 for Romney and is now working on another $300,000.  His fund raising efforts clearly matter but Trump’s ongoing nuttiness about Obama’s birth certificate could potentially blow Romney’s campaign off course. Conservative columnist George Will described Trump as a “bloviating ignoramus” on weekend television while Romney supporters are wondering what the Trump association serves, with one commenting in yesterday’s NY times, “once you get past Trump’s hair there is no substance.”

The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance.  Romney via his team has said he has no issue with the President’s birthplace.  Further cold shouldering might bring the Donald into line.

PR Takeaway:  “Cold and Dignified” is sometimes the best PR approach.  Avoiding photo ops with The Donald and giving only strictly timed sound bites with the self styled mogul is a good idea.  To dilute appearances of a close friendship, insist next time that any appearance with Romney and the Donald includes other celebrity supporters being interviewed at the same time.  While The Donald’s fundraising helps, a close PR association doesn’t.  This is one case where some polite distance is called for.

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