Omarosa Manigault-Newman recently resurfaced on CBS’ “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” to trash the Trump administration
The reality-show villain has come full circle.
Three-time “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman left her nebulous Office of Public Liaison gig last month, promising “a profound story” about her time in the White House was forthcoming. Weeks later, she resurfaced on CBS’ “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” to trash the Trump administration.
“As bad as y’all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence,” she said on Monday’s show. “So everybody that’s wishing for impeachment might want to reconsider their life. We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president; that’s all I’m saying. He’s extreme.” On a previous episode, Manigault-Newman tearfully claimed to have been “haunted” by President Trump’s incessant tweets and insisted the state of the union was “gonna not be OK.”
The White House sought to downplay Manigault-Newman’s theatrics during a briefing last week, conflating her reality-TV tenure with her recent government job. “Omarosa was fired three times on ‘The Apprentice’ and this was the fourth time we let her go,” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Thursday. Was that the best course of action? We asked experts the best way to run damage control when someone in your industry starts badmouthing you or your company.
“Generally speaking, the best playbook if a company wants to preserve its image and reputation is not to get into mudslinging or ad hominem attacks,” marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark, a former presidential campaign spokeswoman for Howard Dean, told Moneyish. “For most corporate leaders that have board members and shareholders, you really can’t get away with flippant responses that dismiss people out of hand.”
Instead, Clark prescribes a “one-two punch” that begins with seeing what you can quietly accomplish behind the scenes. “You want the drama to be played out behind closed doors rather than in the public square,” she said. “So ideally if there is a disgruntled or dissatisfied employee, you want to reach out and try to understand what is making them unhappy.” This person may simply want to be heard, she said; plus, it’s possible their grievances have some merit. If that’s the case, your organization should offer to remedy the situation or make appropriate changes.
This mentality, Clark said, is what drives cable company, bank and airline customer service agents to respond to disgruntled customer tweets with a request to direct message. “On the one hand, that’s good, responsive customer service, because they want to handle the problem and in some cases it involves personal information,” she said. “But it also serves a secondary purpose, which is that it takes the conversation private rather than being aired publicly on the internet.”
If the person’s claims are entirely without merit, Clark said, you can neutralize them by enlisting a credible outside ally to mount a defense. “Unless there are clear facts that you can point to where the other person is in error, the public hears the back-and-forth and isn’t able to make sense of whose claims are valid,” Clark said. “But if a third party is choosing to defend you — particularly one that is perceived as not having to do so, but they’re choosing to do so — it has far more credibility because it is perceived that they are acting on behalf of the truth rather than some personal vendetta or agenda.”
Such a trash-talk situation, veteran crisis management consultant Jonathan Bernstein told Moneyish, could play out in two basic ways: “Either they’re distributing false information and need to be corrected,” he said, “or they’re distributing accurate information and some form of making amends needs to be done.” The goal, he added, is “to out-communicate whoever’s complaining.”
You can generally get away with dismissing someone who’s not credible in the public eye, Bernstein said. But the best defense against an ex-employee’s allegations, he added, is “fact-checkable truth, communicated with compassion, confidence and competence.” If the accused party is actually guilty of some wrongdoing, Bernstein said, an expression of regret and potential amends may be in order.
“There are people who want to be heard, and if some wrong has been done, they want somehow to be made whole,” he said. “So if you meet that need, you have a really good chance of preventing that situation from escalating.”
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