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Saturday, March 10, 2018


Based on today’s Twitter thread, with some edits and additional links.

Some ideas for President Trump about communication.

Not auditioning for a job.

Not that he needs my help: The President is inarguably the world’s greatest living communicator.

But as someone who has worked in a communications-related capacity — in the government, the private sector, and academia — for more than 20 years, I see some potential problems down the road.
The most pressing problem is that “#QAnon” must deliver soon, or else the people who have been following this hashtag, expecting some kind of justice to happen that so far has eluded the American public, will no doubt become greatly disillusioned.

By “deliver” I mean specifically long-promised arrests (this is an old screenshot provided as a sample) following on a reported 18,510 sealed indictments (October 30, 2017-February 28, 2018). I mean not unofficial compilations of questions and answers, but an official governmental narrative to accompany the coded text.

The second most pressing problem is that the President needs an army of really good communicators, as part of a whole-of-government approach to cost savings and improved service.

Guess who did that very well?

The Clinton Administration, with the National Performance Review (NPR), which became the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, which gave birth to the Federal Communicators Network. (See also the book documenting its results.) Here is a screenshot of NPR’s archived description.
For many years I have been an active member of the Federal Communicators Network (FCN), which was born during the Clinton Administration as a way of ensuring the President’s message got out. Here is a screenshot from its archive.

FCN is GREAT. (Check out its current website; please note that I do not speak for this group or any federal agency or other entity, either officially or unofficially; all opinions are always my own.)

Thanks to FCN, a grassroots self-help network that costs nothing to the taxpayer, I have:
  • Received free training from my colleagues.
  • Learned to benchmark appropriate vs. inappropriate communication where the lines are gray, although we are in dire need of governmentwide policy and standards, which a group of us argued in a research paper we released in 2016; here’s a brief summary.
  • Learned how the Washington bureaucracy works.
  • Learned that the Federal government is WOEFULLY understaffed in communication, and tends to WOEFULLY undervalue its communicators as well.
The truth is that federal communication has suffered across all administrations I’ve served within — Bush, Obama, and Trump — although I would argue things are much worse today than ever due to understaffing, lack of strategic direction and lack of standards.

The reason for this is so stupidly simple I can’t even believe I have to say it.

But since we appear to be in a not-so-silent civil war with one another, with grave implications; and since I believe President Trump is a God-fearing patriot, and will not penalize me for speaking my mind with good intent, I am going to go for it.

Put bluntly, federal communication suffers when we don’t focus first on the facts.

It’s so simple.

It’s easy.

“Where’s the beef?”

Rep. Trey Gowdy is a great patriot. He has said he’s “a pretty lousy politician.” Because politics is only about winning.

But government communication should be about facts. Not about winning.

President Trump, my advice to you, when it comes to communication, is this:

Stop talking in riddles.

Just give us the facts.

The fact of the matter is (as much as some people might not want to hear this) that not everything President Obama did was bad. To make this assertion is simply insane on its face.

I worked for several different departments/agencies while President Obama was president: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, USAID, the U.S. National Archives, and NIST. (Yes, I was busy.)

Obama clearly accomplished some important things — while also selling our country down the river. Yes, the two can coexist.

A political approach to government communication is inherently faulty.

We must simply tell the truth.

It is also wrong to argue that the media will twist what we’re saying. The media will do what it will do.

The government is paid by the taxpayer. Taxpayers need the facts. President Trump needs communicators to address, for example:
In a day and age when the public is flooded with skewed information (not necessarily fake news, more like distorted news) a trusted government source (or sources) is needed more than ever to sort out the facts from the lies.

Believe me when I tell you that I totally appreciate mistrust of the government. I get it. Just from the very little I have read this past year, it’s abundantly clear that the American public deserves better.

But the solution to biased, political, echo-chamber communication from the one side is not biased, political, echo-chamber communication from the other. Even if we like that side.

And we can criticize the government for a lot of things, but the amount of technical expertise it has is seriously not one of them. If it takes a long time for the government to produce communication, it’s because a lot of experts weigh in.

President Trump, what I’m telling you is not a matter of rocket science. Any simple person can see it. To produce good communication, you must clearly state the facts. To clearly state the facts, you need a lot of staff on hand. These people must be qualified, and empowered.

But there is more.

In any Administration, there are going to be people and organizations (not to mention coordinated networks) who seek to tank the President and the Presidency no matter what. They will seize on anything.

As a fact-based communicator, one is faced with the political dilemma of such intentionally destructive behaviors.

This is where I believe an opportunity exists to partner with the public. I know for a fact that I could walk through any 7th grade classroom with a blindfold, point to the nearest student, and put them in charge of a social media campaign that would rival anything the “grownups” have to contribute.

I know for a fact that millions of people will stop everything to stand up for what is right, even in the face of constant smears and defamations. (Watch Fulcrum News founder David Seaman pray to the Lord here for an end to child sex trafficking.) I attended that march.

Mr. President — I have said before, and I will say it again, that I believe God has sent you to save our Nation from destruction. But we cannot only rely on one man. As there will unfortunately always be a Negan.

My advice to you is to focus not on the single “heroic” individual who will lead a thinly staffed group of political messengers.

Don’t pay for people to sit around generating fluff, wasted words, propaganda.

Focus instead on an army of FACTITIONERS.

FACTITIONERS are practitioners of fact. They share information with the public. The public picks it up and shares that. And adds its own commentary.

We should not be relying on a few people who can “interpret” the #QAnon code. We should not be getting our info from anons who give us bits and pieces and screenshots. This is not a workable long-term strategy.

It is perfectly fine to say, these are the facts, this is as much as we’re going to say, and the rest we leave up to you to run with. It is fine not to answer stupid troll questions.


Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. This blog post is hereby released to the public domain by the author. All opinions are the author’s own. Creative Commons illustration by geralt via Pixabay.