Today we are talking about the truth . . .
RIP the truth . . . Rest In Peace. Nice knowing you.
Today’s entry was taken from our Media Secrets podcast
Welcome to the Media Secrets podcast. I’m Jess Todtfeld. I’m the author of the book called, Media Secrets: A Media Training Crash Course. Today we are talking about the truth.
RIP the truth . . . Rest In Peace. It was nice knowing you.
No, actually I have good news for people tuning in: the truth is still alive, and we still care about the truth. But we are living in an interesting time for the truth. Every day we are hearing about “fake news.” And we are hearing reports from the President and deciding for ourselves whether it is true or not true, or what his advisors say is true or not true. In the end we don’t know what is the the truth. It leaves the rest of us feeling perplexed.
So today, I’m going to give you some insights on this subject. I usually stay away from talking about politics, but when I do I always do it in a way that is nonpartisan.
Alright, so the truth and Donald Trump: where do we even begin? I’m going to begin with an article from Bill Moyers.com. It was written by Stephen Harper and he calls it the Trump Resistance Plan. The piece that I love the the most about this article is that I really thought he was dead-on from all of the voices out there on this, and it is something he calls the 3 D’s strategy: deflect, defer, and distract. Here’s the link to read the full article:
So it’s pretty interesting. And we can look to President Trump’s press conference yesterday to illustrate his point. Trump gets asked a question about Russia. The reporter asks him, What does he know about Russia? What does he know about hacking? What does he know about people on his own team that was speaking with Russia? What about the person in his administration that had to step down?
Trump uses some interesting versions of deflect, divert, and distract. He does it well and it’s not really something that I love or recommend to many of my clients. I tend to push authenticity. And I tend to work with a lot of clients who are not politicians, who really just want to have the most control, and want to get the right information through, who don’t want to be at the mercy of the media and people who are asking questions.
The good news is for the rest of us that are not politicians, who were not President of the United States, is that we usually don’t get grilled at the level that our U.S. president does. And this president is not unique. Every president will get asked tough questions, and every president is held under the fire and has to deal with negative stories that they don’t like. Donald Trump may not be used to it. He has had his share of negative stories, but he feels like he is really dealing with some heavy-duty negative press. And he is. He has plenty of information that he’s put out there that deserves to be put in that light. It should be noted that he does have outlets that are quite favorable to him. But as of yesterday, even some of the conservative outlets, including Fox News Channel, were really giving him a hard time by demanding that he answer certain questions, especially ones that relate to Russia.
So, let’s talk a little bit about that strategy: deflect, divert, and distract. When Trump goes out there in the media spotlight he’ll get a question and he’s using a technique that I like to call the Short Answer / Long Answer. It’s taken from something that I show clients called The Answer System. When you get a question you must give some short answer that deals with the question, and as long as you’ve done that, you now have control and you can make your way to wherever you want to go with it. Ideally, it’s to some of your important message points, and ultimately, it can be anything that you want to say. This is how President Trump uses this technique. So, he may get a question about Russia and his short answer might be, “Look we’re always trying to make sure that our staff members are doing the right things when it comes to comes to Russia.” Once he said that, he can now take the interview anywhere he wants (which tends to be talking about the ratings of some of the news channels or The Apprentice, or something that happened in the White House one day, and anything that he wants under the sun). Half of the time (more than half the time) the reporters that he’s speaking to just have so many thoughts and questions related there that there’s just so much that’s thrown out at them. . . it is such a big distraction that they don’t even know where to start. So, ultimately, he gives a little nugget, he says something that resembles answering the reporter’s question. But then he takes another direction and talks about news channels, talks about ratings, and then slams some of the people in the room—there are diversions there. There are deflections and it’s a huge distraction at the same time. It’s not what I recommend for most clients!
What I recommend is that you use the short answer portion to tell the interviewer, the reporter, or whoever is asking you question(s) that they are on the right track, the wrong track, so you might be saying, Yes, and here’s what I tell people. Or, No, some people might think that. Here’s actually what I think people should do (if that was part of your answer). You get to say whatever you like. So, I push people toward just having more control and giving as much value as you can.
Back to Donald Trump. A lot of people are talking about lies that he puts out there. Is it a lie? Is it a lie said on purpose? Is what he puts out there just alternative facts? or wrong facts? The answer is that it’s a little bit of all of those things. So in the press conference yesterday, he got a question about . . .actually, it wasn’t even a question . . . he started saying—when he was in that long part of the answer where he could go anywhere that he wants—that he had more electoral votes than anybody since Ronald Reagan. And now, in the age that we live in, a reporter was able to quickly look at their phone if they didn’t have the answer and Google / fact check that statement on the spot. And actually, that’s a great thing for journalism in that they are paying closer attention to what’s going on on the spot. So this reporter looked down and said that Barack Obama in 2008 got even more electoral votes. And I think it was 260 for Barack Obama and 206 for Donald Trump (somewhere in that neighborhood) and Donald Trumps said, well, these are some of the facts I got . . . well, okay, I was wrong . . . this is what I was briefed on.
So, was he lying? Was he just going with something that somebody had said? Or something that he thought? Or something that he felt was the truth? That’s the time that we’re living in. We’re living in a time where politicians are going with what they feel is the truth and they figure instead of apologizing, they say, well, I just had alternative facts . . . or that’s what I just thought was the case. Basically, it’s everything short of saying, my bad. And this tends to be okay in 2017.
Do I really think it’s okay? No, I think that if you hold any elective office, you should be going out there with the best facts that you can so the public can feel like they are getting the truth every time. But the sad truth is that all politicians do this, and this is on a swinging scale as to how much they do it. Just to keep it fair on both sides, Even Barack Obama said things that weren’t always pure facts. Did he do it on purpose? Did he not do it on purpose? I don’t know; I did not get to ask either of them. But it is pretty safe to say, as I give out advice to you right now, lying is not a good strategy. Don’t lie. I know you may be tempted to put out information that feels like it should be true, but my recommendation to business owners, to CEOs that are out there, is that you will tarnish your own reputation by doing so. Lying is a bad strategy.
So, with that, that is your Media Secrets podcast for today.
Go out there. Be great. Be authentic. Make the most from every media opportunity.