By: Donald Smith
On January 20, the inauguration for Donald Trump to assume his presidency was held. However, a controversy followed shortly after the event. The topic of the controversy was the size of attendance at President Trump’s inauguration being substantially smaller than Barack Obama’s from 2009. The comparison was characterized by this photo tweeted out by the National Park Services.
This comparison created a negative outlook on President Trump’s administration. In order to curb this reaction press secretary Sean Spicer held a non-conventional press conference the following day. In the press conference Spicer scolded the media for purposely engaging in false reporting. Later, Spicer referenced several statistics that were reported as false afterwards.
Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to Trump, then proceeded to back up Spicer’s claims in a separate broadcast interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In this interview she stated that Spicer was not using false information, but “alternative facts.” This statement has created a hashtag on Twitter called #alternativefacts where people post comedic material satirizing the political situation.
Now, both Spicer and Conway are seen as public relations professionals. Therefore, by them making false claims on the inauguration attendance size, they have created a distrust between the public and the profession, as if the public did not trust us already. In an attempt to try and conduct some PR for the profession, Public Relations Society of America has stepped into the fray and made a statement rejecting the new White House staff for breaking the code of ethics held up by those in the organization and profession with the “alternative facts.”
Not only have these events caused distrust, but due to Trump consistently discrediting national mainstream media outlets (i.e. CNN) and criticizing large name corporations (i.e. Boeing) professionals will have to differ in tactics in how they go about interacting with the media. So, they will have to be on their toes for the next several years as trust level and relationships among the White House and the media determine effective ways to reach publics.