It’s been nearly two weeks since Bill Shine announced he was resigning his post as White House Communications Director, a position he was the sixth person to fill. In theory, the search is now on for Comms Director Seven, and under normal circumstances, you’d think any public relations professional would jump at the chance to hold such a high-profile, career-making job.
But these are far from normal circumstances, at least according to a survey conducted by Clarity. We asked 100 communications professionals: If you were offered the job of White House Communications Director, would you take it? Why or why not?
For 85 percent of our respondents, the answer was, in short, “no.”
The “why or why not” responses were,as one could expect given they’re from a bunch of communications people, considerably more colorful. Said one respondent:
“[I] would rather explode in a fiery fireball of damnation than suck up to that bloated gasbag.”
More on the nos in a bit. Let’s talk about the 15 percent who said yes. For those brave souls, the number one cited reason was essentially benevolent. They would do it for the love and good of the country. The second most common reason was more for the good of themselves, with respondents indicating the career opportunity or money was too good to pass up.
Then there were a few whose reasons could be closer to “spite.”
“It literally doesn’t matter what you say. There are no wrong answers.“
“For the chance to have one day to stand on a national stage and tell the truth about the idiot in the White House.”
The last sentiment was echoed by one of the “no” respondents, who said,
“…there’s part of me that wishes I’d say “yes.” Then, at my first briefing, I’d tell the truth about EVERYTHING. This would, of course, get me fired so fast I’d make Scaramucci look like a long-term employee. Fantasy me would make an over-the-top exit, too. If it was on Airforce One, I could do like that JetBlue flight attendant and go down the inflatable slide (straight to the Rachel Maddow show).”
Which brings us to the reasons why don’t people don’t want the white house job (and that plural is appropriate, because many indeed had more than one).
Upon analyzing all of the comments, we found reasons fell into 7 basic categories. From least to most cited:
7. The Job Environment: The word “chaos” was used by a number of respondents, and another described the White House comms shop as an “insane asylum.” Another noted,
“Toxic place. The people at the job matter as much as or more than the job itself. It also burns through talent and tends to tarnish vs. burnish the CVs of those who left.”
6. The Lies: The only surprise here may be how far down the list it is.
5. Just Flat out Couldn’t: These respondents “couldn’t be associated,” “couldn’t be part of” and “couldn’t work for” Trump and this administration. Or as one person said,
“I wouldn’t work for this man even if I was offered $50 million!”
4. Inability to Support or Believe In Him: This is where Trump as a brand entered into the conversation, with responses like,
“I have to believe somewhat in the product, service or individual I promote.”
“The President is as big as the office in determining brand identity [and] I don’t believe in the brand.”
3. The job Itself: For these respondents, the current occupants of the White House mattered less than the rigors of working there, with the role being described as “thankless,” “impossible” and “24/7.”
A former Gubernatorial communications office holder noted:
“The stress, loss of any semblance of a life outside work, and the public scrutiny and blasting on social media just isn’t worth it.”
2. Qualities of Trump & the Administration: Our respondents certainly weren’t shy about saying how they really feel, using terms like, “anti-Semitic,” “corrupt,” “destructive,” impulsive,” “racist” and “Russian stooge.”
Still, being ever the professionals, the respondents’ often concluded the name calling with the sentiment that, with his track record of doing whatever he wants, Trump would be a bad client:
“While it is a GREAT gig, and would look amazing on a resume, I would not take the offer as Trump runs his own communications and does not seem inclined to let anyone else manage that, or help him truly tailor his message. In that environment, any communications professional is only going to become frustrated and will likely not be able to make an impact in the way they hoped.”
1. Their Personal Ethics: It was surprising how many responses contained this exact word, as well as similar terms like “dignity,” “values,” “conscience” and “integrity.”
“Are you kidding? I won’t work for a racist/anti-Semitic/misogynistic/Russian stooge. And I won’t work for an organization with “ethics” that pale in comparison to those found in an organized crime family…What’s going on here with Trump’s abuse of the role of the media is, to use one of the favorite words from his quite limited vocabulary, a ‘disgrace.’”
Perhaps the administration won’t even try to find #CD7, but their best chance is to find one of those “Best People” with a sense of duty to the country along with an ability to tolerate a with whom they don’t agree and probably won’t listen, anyway.
Otherwise, I think Sean Spicer is still looking for a job. Melissa McCarthy I’m not sure about.
Thank you to all of my professional peers who took part in this survey!