What’s Next For America? The PR World Weighs In

David Landis_Headshot 2016 Headshot 2 TMCBy David Landis, President, LCI (San Francisco)

I started writing this blog to talk about our global PR network, the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), and our recent meeting in Lisbon. It was a great meeting where we welcomed new agencies from Belgium, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Toronto and Copenhagen.

But I can’t but help think that I’ve buried the lead.  We can’t talk about the globe without talking about what happened in America in our most recent election.

PRGN’s President, the ever-astute Evelyn John Holtzhausen from HWB in South Africa, is worried that what happened here is damaging to the USA’s global brand.  I have to agree.  So I asked some other PRGN members for their thoughts.  Here are the responses:

From Abbie Fink, HMA PR, Phoenix:

The sun did rise today and the world is a very different place. Emotions are high on either side. Whether your candidate won or not, whether the ballot proposition passed or not, now is not the time to give up. Now is when the real work begins.

Edmund Burke (in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer) said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Another line from that letter, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

So good people, associate. Continue the work, get involved and stay involved with the organizations that are out there fighting for the causes you believe in. The 2016 election results don’t need to signal the end, but should be the continued rallying cry to ensure we are stronger together.


From Mariusz Pleban, Multi Communications, Poland:

Humans are not so rational after all. Basic emotions have won. Europe is in shock. Is Angela Merkel the last standing leader of the free world? Is Yalta2 possible? These days nothing is impossible.


From Blake Lewis, Lewis Public Relations, Dallas:

Half of the nation is clearly and understandably unhappy, with another half somewhere between happy and deeply discouraged. Ironically, this is a day when half and half does not make a whole, as the results do not reflect those of us who voted for other candidates. Our two-party system, as it currently works, is letting America down. My hope is that good will come from this experience. American democracy has survived other calamities in 240 years. We must work as a nation to do better, protecting real individual liberties for which so much was paid by so many.


From Evelyn John Holtzhausen, HWB Communications, South Africa:

The election has exposed America as a deeply divided country: the result of the election gives support to racism, sexism, misogyny, bullying, and the most base of human instincts.  America has been knocked from the pedestal as a champion of personal liberty, human rights and forward thinking.  The US has entered a very dark place, from which no reputational risk strategy can save it. Let’s hope this can be reversed in four years time.


From Mark Paterson, Currie Communications, Australia:

Global trade is vital for Australia. If the US tears up our free trade agreement and starts a trade war with China, resulting in global tariff rises and restrictions on imports and exports, the damage to our export-based economy will be incalculable. The immediate challenge for our clients in food, agriculture and natural resources is to make sense of a narrative on trade that emerges from a US administration they did not expect.


From Sandy Lish, Castle Group, Boston:

I’m out of the country with my family so not feeling what the rest of the country is feeling quite as acutely. I can pretend for a couple of more days that things are kumbaya. President Obama’s speech was classy and struck the right tone. He was comforting and I think our whole country needs that virtual hug right now.  


From Scott Hanson, HMA PR, Phoenix:

Just as we saw with Brexit, the public is fed up with the establishment and the politicians who run it.  Like the results or not, the ability to freely elect our leaders is something we should cherish, as not everyone around the world has that opportunity.  And the peaceful transfer of power is one demonstration of how great America is.


From David Wills, Media Profile, Canada:

From a Toronto, Canadian perspective, the reaction was shock and surprise. We’re the people who elected Rob Ford, but to be a Mayor of a city, not to be the most powerful person in the world.  And just like Rob Ford and Brexit, it almost seems as if people want their country or city to be smaller, more isolated, when in fact there is a whole world of wonderful culture and customs to embrace.


From Rui Elias, Global Press, Portugal:

I believe most people didn’t really expect this result; I could see surprise and astonishment on their faces. On social media, Hillary supporters immediately reacted, but Trump supporters didn’t seem to be so active… could that be regret? I’m sure the next four years will be full of stories to tell, if the new president keeps the same attitudes as during the campaign (and probably, unfortunately, not always for the best reasons!)

From Sara Pearson, Spider PR, London:



From Christina Rytter, Scandinavian Communications, Denmark:

In Denmark, we are not too happy about it. We are a smaller country and we are especially thinking about our very important trade agreements with the U.S. and NATO, as well as the environmental issues. As a Scandinavian Communications agency, I believe we will continue our interesting work for U.S. brands coming into Scandinavia to create successful business. The people have voted and in a democracy you need to respect that – and move forward to get the best out of the new situation.


From Yap Boh Tiong, Mileage Communications, Singapore:

It was a revolt by the working class against the elites in Washington, a divide between social classes. Blue collar, older white Americans were purportedly affected by the globalisation and free trade. This translated into loss of jobs, factory closures and too many immigrants, which carried the day for Trump. Did Hillary hear their angst? I understand she did not visit Wisconsin since April. Trump wants to kill the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will be detrimental to Asian countries – especially Singapore, which thrives on free trade. Hopefully what Trump has been saying is campaign rhetoric and when he gets into the White House, he will take a more centric stance.


From Stephane Billiet, WE Agency, Paris:

The hypothesis of electing a so-called « anti-system candidate » is now proven. The US often shows the way to what happens in France. (Maybe this means) Marine Le Pen’s candidacy is getting more credible?


From Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Los Angeles:

The biggest game changer in the election was the shift to those of us who were monitoring real time social media rather than traditional news outlets. Some of us were monitoring many different channels.  In fact, user generated channels (such as Twitter) were relaying more accurate information in real time.  The question is: does that make news channels obsolete when it comes to reporting real time information?


From Michael Diegelmann, Cometis, Germany:

Scary to see that after Hungary, Poland, and the UK now even the largest democracy of the world falls for Populism. Next year are elections in France, Germany and a referendum in Italy. Let’s stand up for being open minded!

From Uwe Schmidt, Industrie-Contact, Germany:

The guy who never had the chance to become a member of PRGN became the leader of the USA. As he has the majority in all key (governmental) bodies he can rule the next 4 years without real opposition. I do hope for the American people and “the rest of the world“ this works out fine without any severe political accidents. 


From Anne Buchanan, Buchanan Public Relations, Philadelphia:

Donald Trump proved the power of knowing one’s audience. His message was often crass, inarticulate and insulting. By all standards, most communications professionals would deem his messaging a failure. Yet it clearly resonated with (or, at least, didn’t dissuade) his voters. In the end, it turned out that he – and pretty much he alone – knew his audience best. On the other side, Hillary Clinton delivered possibly the best speech of her career the morning after the election. Equal parts concession and inspiration, her remarks were gracious, heartfelt and authentic. Her delivery of them was masterful. The “real” Hillary Clinton came through in the final days of the campaign. It made me warm to her in new way and left me wishing I had seen more of that side of her earlier in the campaign.


From Sean Dowdall, LCI, San Francisco:

Trump leveraged the power of TV fame. He kept his brand in-front, every day, good or bad, using free media to his advantage. He repeated his messages all of the time and several times every day. Trump kept his messages very simple. He always had either a crazy rationale or offered a harsh evaluation, e.g., “Build a wall, if you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.”

And From Yours Truly, David Landis, LCI, San Francisco:

Personally, I am in shock that America could elect a president — and a Congress — that so divides our great country. On the practical side, I believe the pollsters are not accurately reflecting the mood of the country. I believe this stems from their antiquated approach. The pollsters still don’t understand technology and how to tap into those that don’t have a land line. Plus I hold the media responsible for not embracing the watchdog role that allows citizens to make informed decisions. The media gave Donald Trump a free ride and he dominated the headlines: and Hillary Clinton was relegated to page 12. From “The Donald,” we got sound bites which the media embraced — and people accepted without question. I am very worried for our nation: for its economy, for the Supreme Court, for women’s and minority rights and for our position with the rest of the world.

But in the words of our eloquent President Barack Obama, “We need to learn from our mistakes, do some reflection, brush ourselves off, get back in the arena and all go forward. That is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. We are all on the same team.”

What are your thoughts? Please leave a message below or email me at: [email protected].

11 thoughts on “What’s Next For America? The PR World Weighs In

  1. Very important and interesting to hear perspectives from around the world. As of today, 11/14/16, 6 million votes went to candidates other than Clinton or Trump. Also, Clinton is 700,000 votes ahead of Trump with apparently at least 2 million more votes yet to be counted.

  2. I was disappointed and shocked by Tuesday’s outcome, but I also believe that our electoral process is fair. I hope the world realizes that our elected officials are not an exact representation of who we are as Americans, but more of a reflection of our diversity and our country’s openness to different viewpoints.

  3. Hillary Clinton has to share some blame for the media imbalance by going 275 days without a press conference. Even then, the drought only ended when she finally talked to reporters on a plane in September 2016.

    I wonder if Barack Obama had that in mind when he said “We need to learn from our mistakes.”

  4. Jon – I agree. I think Hillary’s campaign was at best mediocre and because they assumed she would win, perhaps they didn’t pay attention as much especially to certain parts of the country. That said, I still think she would have been a great President, but probably will never win awards for charisma.

  5. I think complacency and a trust in the media/pollsters lost the election for Hillary Clinton…so many just assumed she’d win…and when you assume…

    It’s time to organize to proect what you hold dear. Grassroots action can win the day for the next four years if we’re “all in.”

  6. What absolutely terrifies me are the number of low lives coming out from under rocks, who believe that a Trump presidency now gives them license to spew hate. He’s unleashed an unspeakable horror – bigots, racists, a category of sub humans that scare the shit out of me. People getting punched in restaurants, tackled on escalators, swastikas spray painted on Jewish homes, Hispanic kids petrified that heir parents will be deported, trailer trash calling one of the most brilliant and elegant first ladies in US history “an ape in heels”. Who are these people?

  7. Not much left to say after reading such thoughtful perspectives regarding the U.S. 2016 presidential race. I agree that we need to move forward and simply see what happens because that’s what democracy is all about – despite its inherent flaws and shortcomings.

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