It’s Not What You Say…

Communications coaching is a two-way street, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly should be advised. What you say and How you say it.

John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, and communications coaching

Photo Courtesy of

Seems Mr. Kelly coached President Trump on what to say to the grieving widow of a fallen soldier.  A 4-Star general and a father who’d lost his soldier son in Afghanistan expressed in somber words and tone, “your husband was where he wanted to be, he knew what he signed up for.” It was a far cry from the cold, dispassionate, insensitive, “joking” President Trump’s uttering of the same words: he knew what he signed up for!

To the press, Mr. Kelly attempted to explain the President’s style, “In his way, he tried to express the opinion that Sergeant Johnson was ‘a brave man, a fallen hero, doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into, what the possibilities were, because we’re at war.’ Mr. Kelly said. ‘And when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends.’ That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”

That might have been more comforting to Sergeant Johnson’s wife and mother.

As Los Angeles-based media coaches for over 35 years, we’ve learned that audiences consider the source of the message and listen to how it’s presented.

The ensuing criticism is a case of shooting the messenger and the coach, who failed to consider the spokesperson and his personal style.

John Kelly should make the calls.

In the Public Eye

It’s often said, the camera doesn’t lie. Nor or does it blink. The same can be said of social media.

Recently Mrs. Louise Linton Mnuchin, the new since-June wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin documented her posh summer lifestyle in Italy and France publicly on Instagram, complete with a parade of designer tags…”#TomFord,” “#Valenrinorockstudheels,” and #HermesScarf.” However, a brand spokesperson said these were not free products or compensation, The New York Times reported, for her “label-loving shoutout.”

Photo Courtesy of Business Insider

But the public arrogance begged for a defacing of her Wikipedia page, which can be edited by anyone. Following this criticism, Mrs. Mnuchin’s Instagram post featured herself as she and her husband and Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell disembarked from a government jet.

Commenting on the public posting, a 45-year-old mother of 3 from Oregon criticized her photo op, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”

Grammatical error

Mrs. Mnuchin fired back defensively without the benefit of a grammar check….

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she wrote.

“I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

And finally, “You’re adorably out of touch.”


Don’t Deflate Your Defense

In crisis media coaching as on the football field, the best defense is a good offense.

Defending their team’s actions, however, the New England Patriots chose an unusual offense.  This most recent case, dubbed ‘deflate-gate’ involves star quarterback Tom Brady whom the NFL has accused, along with two locker-room personnel, of intentionally deflating the game ball to gain a competitive advantage in the AFC Finals.

The evidence for this case varies from concrete to circumstantial, depending on whom you talk to and his/her particular football allegiance. In a response issued by the Patriots refuting many points, one argument stood out among the rest, and discredited the remaining 18,000 words.

Quarterback Tom Brady. Photo courtesy of

Quarterback Tom Brady. Photo courtesy of

Text messages between the two locker-room employees are used as primary evidence in the case against Brady. In these messages, one employee refers to himself as, “the deflator.”

To lessen the blow, the Patriots responded claiming “the deflator” was a term referring to his weight loss, not his act of cheating! Although many valid, well-argued points are raised regarding actual evidence,  this obvious and ludicrous lie makes all credibility and the rest of the defense, well, deflated.

When  good defenses are established, don’t lower their validity with extra, non-essential and ridiculous claims as the Patriots did.  A strong, truthful offense is the best defense, and the best way to inflate the confidence of your audience.

Mexican Uprising

Not since British Petroleum’s CEO Tony Hayward muttered “I’d like my life back” after 11 workers lost their lives in a BP oil rig explosion has an aside caused such international outrage.

“Ya me canse” (I’ve had enough/I’m tired of this) complained Mexico’s attorney general as he abruptly ended a press conference in which he was repeatedly questioned about the alleged massacre of 43 freshmen from a local teacher’s college in the country.

Mexican flag with border

#yamecanse became the citizen’s rallying cry on social media as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets protesting Mexico’s drug culture of corruption and violence. Apprehended by local police, the students were apparently handed over to a drug gang to be executed and their bodies burned.

Further, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has also been criticized for how his administration handled the crisis. It took him 11 days to make a public comment after the students’ disappearance in late September and, by mid November, had yet to visit Guerrero state where the massacre took place.

The cooler, or perhaps more media trained voice of Mexico’s ambassador to the US, Eduardo Medina Mora told CNN that the alleged massacre will force the Mexican government to focus on developing strong policing institutions. “This was a wake-up call for all of us. This must not happen again.”