July 12, 2019

by Matt Barkett

As the world devolves into a game of “What will he say next?” on Twitter, a question I often get is, “What if President Trump decides to weigh in on some issue that may or may not be related to our organization but he uses our name in a tweet and suddenly we are in the middle of it?”

Good question, and perhaps a perfect application of one of my favorite sayings as a crisis pro – “Not your fault, but still your problem.” Home Depot was a recent target of a Trump tweet and, in this instance, Trump was supportive of the organization. That’s a positive, right? Well, not for everyone.

The president is a polarizing figure. So even when he says something positive, it can have negative repercussions. Part of an employee base may not like him and don’t want his support, while other employees may appreciate his support and want to publicize it.

So what do you do?

In this case, Home Depot issued a tepid statement that read, in part, founder “Bernie [Marcus] retired from The Home Depot more than 15 years ago and isn’t speaking on behalf of the company. In fact, as a standard practice, the company does not endorse Presidential candidates.”

With such a definitive, down-the-middle split in support of or against the president, organizations must be prepared to address what he says whether it reflects positively or negatively on them. As with most crisis contingency planning, taking the time to plan what you’ll say if the president says something naughty or nice about your organization is a smart idea.

In today’s social media-driven world, having thought about that factor in advance could help you weather the storm even if you didn’t intend to draw any attention in the first place.

If you’d like to talk about how social media attention can lead to crisis situations for your organization, contact Matt Barkett at mbarkett@dix-eaton.com or 216-241-3073.