The Trump Effect and Public Relations During the 2020 Election

Every U.S. Presidential election year, that single story slowly consumes more and more of every news broadcast, especially on the regional and national level, until it reaches a crescendo where every newsroom resource seems focused on the election and nothing else. Once the election and any Presidential transition period passes, things historically begin to normalize. Something different happened with the 2016 election. Election coverage on the national level, and to some extent locally, transitioned to an unprecedented level of ongoing White House news coverage, often in place of other stories. In public relations circles, this slowly became known as the “Trump Effect.”

Politics aside, the Trump Campaign and then Administration consistently managed to rack up more column inches of newspaper coverage and minutes of news broadcasts than previous administrations. For public relations professionals vying for those precious moments of media coverage, the competition was fierce and wrought with new challenges. Would an anchor ask their guest about the latest White House headline without warning? Would the interview get cancelled altogether because of more breaking news out of Washington? Yes and yes. Now as we’re well into the 2020 Presidential election year, it’s worth revisiting some truisms and strategies to help your company’s public relations team compete with the “Trump Effect” this year.

Double Down on Reporter Pitches That Make an Impact

Competing with the election focus proves challenging every four years and we can expect it to be even more so this year. Instead of calling in sick, though, it’s time to double down and make sure your public relations team pitches stories a reporter can’t resist. Maybe that means going super local or changing how you approach telling your company story. Tougher competition means every pitch requires your best effort to break through the noise. Why does your story deserve those precious moments of coverage versus something else? Remember that you’re not only competing with breaking news out of Washington, but also every other attention starved public relations team out there. 

Think of this as an opportunity for true self reflection. Does your company deserve that attention? If so, prove it. If not, get back to work and come back with a story that really does deserve a reporter’s time. Identify what makes your story truly unique. Dig deep and uncover new ways for it to connect, not just with the reporter but also with their audiences. Also, look for and focus on opportunities that do not go head to head with the White House for attention. As you practice and perfect this process, those pitches will become stronger and you’ll see even greater success once the election year falls behind us.

Expect the Unexpected and Media Train Like It Matters… Because It Does

You need to stay quick on your feet during any election year and particularly in one that’s destined to garner record breaking quantities of news coverage. Can your company or organization afford to alienate 50% of your potential customer base by tipping your hat politically one way or the other? If so, own it. If not, plan ahead. 

Especially in live interviews, there’s always the possibility that a host could drop a question about your opinion on such and such development out of Washington. That likelihood gets stronger the higher profile the interview. We’ve prepared individuals for live, remote TV interviews with news networks only to have a producer jump on 90-seconds before the interview to say they might ask about the latest White House development, regardless of whether it has to do with the interview topic or not. At that point, you can say OK or cancel the interview, which is a tough call for everyone involved.

The best solution is media training for whoever is speaking on behalf of the company. Teach your spokesperson to expect the unexpected and ensure they’re prepared to weather any storm, even if it comes during a live interview. Help them articulate the company’s stance politically if it has one or lack thereof if it does not. And instead of encouraging them to say “no comment” or blatantly avoid questions, prepare them to share what value and insight they can offer to the conversation, even if they’re not going to take a side. Remember, the tougher the interview or situation, the greater the opportunity to come out the other side with a stronger and more professional reputation or brand image. 

Get Creative About How You Think of Media

The media landscape is in the midst of profound change that has nothing to do with the election. While traditional newsrooms around the country have tightened their belts and in many cases cut staff, we have also seen new kinds of newsrooms emerging. Sometimes they’re digital first publications built around a website. In other cases they might be entirely based on social media or revolve around a popular podcast or YouTube channel. Niche trade publications or hyper local news sources have exploded as well. Each of these offer new and unique opportunities to pitch stories and build relationships with reporters and their audiences. Your interview may not reach the same size audience as it would have on a local TV station, but at least you’re in the game and depending on how the cards fall, a smaller but very focused audience could do much more for your brand.

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Tell Your Own Story and Make Your Own Headlines

The same digital resources and tools that allow niche publishers to claim their stake in the media landscape offer you the same opportunity in the form of content marketing and/or branded content. If you’re having trouble convincing someone to tell your story simply because of all the competition out there, consider telling it yourself. This isn’t an excuse for lazy storytelling though. The same focus on story and content you use for your media pitches need to drive your own content because you’re still competing for attention, even if it’s easier than ever to publish a story yourself. 

Whether it’s a corporate blog, niche podcast, how-to YouTube Channel or a series of live streaming video content, a small, agile team that knows what they’re doing can make your company’s story come to life without ever pitching the story to a newsroom. Yes, you don’t receive the same third party validation you get from an independent reporter telling your story, but your story is getting told and if you put on your editors hat and take the job seriously, those stories can pay dividends to your brand for years to come.

Get Ready for Election 2020

If like most companies, public relations has a long tail impact on your bottom line and continued growth, you cannot afford to take a year off and let the election pass. Neither, however, can you afford to keep doing things the way you always did before. Times are changing and both the rules and opportunities are different today, regardless of the challenges posed by the “Trump Effect” and Election 2020. The question is, how are you going to rise above the fray and elevate your public relations strategy so your organization can thrive for years to come?

Mitchell Williams Law

Legal Content Marketing

We helped this growing mid-size law firm better position its attorneys as experts in key practice areas by delivering curated content.

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Request Your Guide to Ghidotti!

We’d love to start a conversation with you about how we can create results for you. First step? Request your very own Guide to Ghidotti to learn more about our public relations and content marketing firm. This is a look inside our agency and will give you a good feel for who we are, what we do and how we partner with our clients to move the needle.


Are You the Next Rock Star on the Ghidotti Team?

The Ghidotti Team is overflowing with full-fledged rock stars. Sure – we’re looking for the best, brightest, most creative, most organized. You get the picture. But what we REALLY want is someone who we can laugh with, depend on, learn from and do great work together. Learn more about who we’re looking for and what you can expect.

Ghidotti is currently hiring a Media Relations Specialist and Fall PR Intern! 

Media Relations Specialist

The media relations specialist should possess superb project management and organizational skills, as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills with the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment.

To ensure success, media relations specialists should demonstrate fantastic time management, great creativity with a keen interest in creating and implementing cost-efficient and effective media campaigns, as well as effectively analyze the impact of campaigns on the company’s bottom line.

By assisting the team in the execution of client activities and learning the basics of services offered across all areas of the agency, the media relations specialist will play a crucial role in supporting client service teams. 

Main Responsibilities

  • Write client and internal correspondence effectively and with limited supervision.
  • Develop content for broadcast, print and online distribution channels to include press releases, media advisories, blogs, e-newsletters and website content with limited supervision.
  • Negotiate with media channels to close competitive deals.
  • Serve as the agency’s media liaison and formal spokesperson, and effectively place client messages and spokespeople in target media outlets.
  • Scan the media marketplace to keep up-to-date on the latest media trends.
  • Successfully plan and execute client activities such as media tours, digital and social campaigns, business missions and/or other special events. 
  • Proactively identify story ideas and work with the supervisor to develop.
  • Successfully manage independently the execution of all client content calendars, which can include media relations pitch calendars, blogs, social content and paid media campaigns.
  • Exhibit competency and efficiency in drafting copy for client marketing materials and/or campaigns, such as website content, e-newsletters, collateral materials, paid media campaigns, etc. 
  • As it relates to social/digital media, regularly suggest ideas, manage the planning, and comfortably execute campaigns on behalf of clients. 
  • Assist in the management of interns, when applicable. 
  • Monitor all campaigns, and report on results.
  • Build long-term relationships with media houses.
  • Easily navigate agency platforms such as Cision, TVEyes, Sprout Social, Sprinklr.


Fall PR Intern

We’re looking for a resourceful go-getter who enjoys fast-paced work in an agency environment and is eager to learn the ins and outs of public relations, media relations, social media management and content marketing.Our team members are expected to complete high-quality work, juggle multiple tasks, keep projects on track, and be accountable for results. The right candidate will be a motivated problem-solver who will thrive in a deadline-driven environment.


  • Writing for social media
  • Posting to social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Creating Canva graphics
  • Brainstorming/Researching Ideas
  • Logging media clips
  • Assisting with video production and Facebook lives for clients
  • Building media contact lists
  • Uploading content to content management sites for clients
  • Assist with client events
  • Media Relations outreach
  • Attend internal meetings and potentially take notes for client meetings
  • Assist with office errands and organization
  • Assist with general project management and scheduling

What We Want:

  • Experience with writing/posting to social media sites and using Canva is preferred.
  • Experience with photography and/or video creation or production is a plus.
  • Creative problem-solver
  • Organized and able to prioritize work under pressure
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • You are resourceful.
  • You are humble.
  • You know what needs to be done because it just comes naturally.
  • You are accurate with an attention to detail.
  • You follow instructions.
  • You have a life outside of work that you love and nurture.
  • You love learning new things.
  • You ask questions when appropriate and know how to Google the simple things like your life depends on it!
  • You treat our clients and your team members with respect.
  • You are funny.
  • You are caring.
  • You are a good friend and co-worker.
  • You are creative and think of brilliant ideas in your sleep.
  • You are resourceful. It’s so important that we’re mentioning it again!

Rock Star Environment

We strive to create a fun, engaging atmosphere where high fives, chicken minis, and celebrations are commonplace. We lift one another up, honor achievements and reward hard work.

  1. Professional Enrichment

    Whether instructor-led, web-based or sharing during Fireside Friday, we are always learning more!

  2. Community Engagement

    We love the state of Arkansas. Our team enjoys outings to locally-owned businesses and pride ourselves on community involvement. In addition, employees are often offered free tickets to community events to get out and enjoy life with friends and family.

  3. Team Building

    Quarterly adventures for the team!

  4. Winter Recess

    We shut this place down at the holidays so we can all rest, relax and reinvigorate for the new year.

  5. Summer Fridays

    We get an early jump on the weekend every Friday during the summer.

  6. Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

    Along with your PTO, you also get VTO to use to support your favorite charity or organization.

Does this describe you?

To apply, please submit the following via email to

  1. Cover letter and PDF of your resume 
  2. References: 2-3 minimum
  3. Tell us how you heard about this position