Campaign trail skills are a brand's best friend in the Trump era

Everything is political in 2017-and will be in 2018, too. Just ask Keurig.

(Image via Angelo John Gage's Twitter account).
(Image via Angelo John Gage's Twitter account).

You put your time in. You worked long hours away from friends and family, trading in personal relationships and some of your sanity for the tireless work of a hard-fought campaign. You probably won some and lost some, but gained years of valuable experience dealing with high-pressure situations on little to no sleep in the around-the-clock hardball world of modern American politics. 

Eventually, you traded in the unforgiving hours and pressure of election night for the relative sanity of the corner office, where the hours are (mostly) better, and the wages definitely are. You thought you left the mudslinging behind. 

I have bad news: you were wrong. Or to paraphrase Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part III, as soon as you thought you were out, they pulled you back in. 

In the Trump era of U.S. politics, whether that’s four years, eight years, or another period of time to be determined by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other congressional forces, everything--even just advertising an incredibly efficient coffee-maker--can be seen as a political act. Miss the memo and you might see your products smashed over and over again on YouTube. 

If you don’t believe me, ask the corporate communications team at Keurig, which probably needed to put its own products into overdrive to fuel its response to one of the more absurd political controversies of 2017. After one of its staffers jumped the gun and washed the company’s hands of advertising on the Hannity program in response to an activist from Media Matters from America, conservative fanboys began a 21st century Boston Tea Party of sorts on social media, throwing coffee makers from balconies, windows, and other kinds of elevated platforms in defense of the TV host’s coverage of the Roy Moore scandal. A memo from Keurig’s CEO stopped the destruction, but it also gave the appearance the company was afraid to take a stand against a politician accused of assaulting underage girls. So much for efficiency. 

In this environment, brands need a North Star, and their communications employees need to know their company’s core beliefs so well that they can sniff out a political crisis in the making, raise the issue with superiors, and quickly come up with a gameplan for refuting false accusations. It’s a crazy time when a shoe brand as non-political can be accused of being the official sneaker company of Nazis or Keurig can be called soft on pedophelia, but it also means your campaign trail or social media war room experience is more valuable than ever. Put it to good use or be forced to watch your brand smashed to pieces on social media. 

Frank Washkuch is news editor at PRWeek.

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