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PR agencies develop 'Trump strategies'

News, 08 March 2017
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NEW YORK: President Trump's propensity for tweeting about anything from developments in reality TV to criticisms of specific companies and brands is leading to a surge in a new business area for PR agencies.

"This is the first situation like this we've ever seen," according to Gene Grabowski, partner at crisis communications firm KGlobal. "This is the first time clients [have] reached out asking, 'What do we do if the president attacks us?' This is now a category," he told the Wall Street Journal.

Grabowski revealed that "attack by the President" is among the scenarios contemplated during routine crisis management exercises for clients and added that KGlobal has been in talks with at least three clients about developing a "Trump strategy".

One of Grabowski's tactics is to get ahead of the game by, for example, sending factsheets to Congressmen with information about clients' contributions to jobs, taxes and charities in their districts.

At Burson-Marsteller, CEO Don Bauer reported that half a dozen clients had sought help over the past two months in assessing potential "vulnerabilities" that could expose them in some way to political crises related to the Trump administration.

That picture is repeated at other agencies, many of which have registered increased demand for crisis plans that take account of what Peter Duda, EVP and co-lead of the global issues and crisis practice at Weber Shandwick, described as a "new, more highly politicized environment".

In evidence, Duda cited the example of a US multinational financial services company "that wants our help to protect its brand and corporate reputation in Mexico, given the anti-American sentiment that's growing due to the administration's proposed policies".

Nor is it just the big companies that are concerned by the possibility of being targeted by the president, according to Kris Balderston, president of global public affairs at FleishmanHillard.

He reported that Fortune 300 clients have been asking for support. The president "doesn't know they exist, but everyone is kind of afraid", he said.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff

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