Big data has a date with Trump
How do you prepare your CEO for a meeting with President Elect Trump? That was the subject of conversation when I had breakfast with an ex colleague this weekend. I haven’t seen her for a while on the basis that she has recently taken a big job as the head of comms. for one of the world’s largest big data technology companies, and is never in the same place for more than three days.
Liz (not her real name) is currently recovering from that meeting which many of the world’s largest technology brands meet with President Elect Trump in New York. Apparently, Liz and her team did not sleep for a week in the run up to the meeting. I can’t disclose the name of the company but the experience she had was probably consistent across all the brands that were invited to send representatives to Trump Tower.
I asked her, what does the preparation involve when something like that lands in your inbox? what can b2b PR teams learn from this? Apparently, she was in Japan at the time that the email popped up, suggesting that there might be a meeting. It was 7pm and they had just over a week. There were a lot of things that needed to be established: Who else would be attending? What would be the agenda? How long would the meeting last for? Would the media be present?
What was clear was that the CEO would have to attend, and would have to be prepared for every eventuality. As details started to come through that, yes there would be a meeting.
The first thing they did was quickly evaluate whether they should engage in this. Was it genuine? Should they go? What would it say to shareholders and consumers? What would be the upside? What were the risks? Ultimately, the decision was taken by the CEO himself that indeed he should attend. They set up a war room and the entire comms team bolted to New York to prepare. The first stage was to identify the “knowns” and “unknowns”.
The team then began researching – what connections existed to the incoming administration already. Luckily this work was already underway and there were some strong lines of communication already in place. The team also researched the connections that existed between the CEO and President Elect Trump and his team. What donations that had been given? Speeches that had been delivered were analysed, charity events attended etc. were scrutinised. potential issues such as seating plans, security arrangements, press protocol, all needed to be considered.
Ultimately there was a plan covering almost every eventuality. There were briefing books prepared and three prep sessions with the CEO. Not much came from the administration, which explains the bemused looks on most of the attendee’s faces. In fact, the meeting itself was relatively short and seemed to be a photo call. So, a great deal of preparation for eventualities that didn’t come about. But, as Liz said, isn’t it better that way?