Navigating the News Madness of the Trump Indictment

New crews started camping out in front of the criminal courthouse on Centre Street in Lower Manhattan immediately after the news broke that the former President was indicted and will likely be arraigned approximately at 2:15PM this Tuesday. News trucks are already stationed in front of Trump Tower, along with increased security. There was even live streaming of Mr. Trump’s plane parked at PBI and we can all look forward to the live coverage of his private jet taking off on Monday afternoon, landing at LGA followed by the motorcade as it heads to Manhattan. We will, no doubt, see wall to wall coverage the entire day.

For those that remember, this journey will bring back the visuals of the relentless helicopter coverage of O.J. Simpson in his white Bronco as he raced through the streets of L.A. to avoid capture. Apparently, “One Trump advisor compared the expected press frenzy of Trump going to Manhattan for the arraignment to O.J. Simpson ‘on steroids.’ ”

Regardless of your particular leanings, history, justice and politics will collide, resulting in 24-7 coverage of this momentous time in our nation’s history. This story and its tentacles will test the mettle of PR professionals that will need to steady themselves and their clients.

The news landscape will be completely chaotic and unforgiving, siphoning space for content previously devoted to other storylines.

The news mayhem has already started – it is a fait accompli, for sure, but there are rules of thumb for seasoned communicators, those in the middle of their PR careers and those new to the discipline that can be used to navigate the expected madness. Here are five observations:

Have A Conversation: This is a distinctly unique moment in time. Take the time to talk about it with your team.


“Put A Pin It”; Assess The Situation: This coming week will be a bumpy ride. Assess what you have on tap for the week. Do you have a product launch? A major news announcement? A media showcase scheduled for Tuesday in lower Manhattan (hope not). Does it make sense to reschedule?

Perhaps your media targets don’t cover Presidential politics, but will their outlet be impacted by the coverage? Look at all the factors that are important to achieving success. Talk to your team. Make the right call.

Hold Your Course/Don’t Be Distracted: You can serve your team and clients the best by staying focused on your most important tasks, priorities and the plan that is in place. You may have to make tiny tweaks in the short term, but keeping your eye on the ball is important. My sailing colleagues will know this well: “Holding your course on a sailboat means watching the changes in the wind, trimming the sails as needed, understanding that the boat is always buffeted by currents, guided by the rudder, moved by the engine and the fluctuations of everything around her.”

Small Adjustments Work Just Fine: When you can’t change the direction of the wind, making small adjustments in yacht races can be the difference between losing and winning . If you are thinking about making a change, it may be prudent to make smaller adjustments and let the crisis pass – which it will.

Keep An Eye/Assess Again: The news storm will likely build Monday and reach its crescendo on Tuesday. If there is anything like what we saw on January 6 at The Capitol, all bets are off. The initial urgency will abate after the actual indictment on Tuesday, though we will probably see live coverage of Mr. Trump leaving the Manhattan Courthouse and his motorcade back to La Guardia, and yes, no doubt we will see live coverage of the Trump jet taking off headed back to Palm Beach. And then, there will be endless pundits on every TV station offering their opinions, predicting history (or trying to) and opining about the impacts on the 2024 Presidential election. Mr. Trump will return to Mar -a-Lago and the news cycle will begin to return to normal – whatever that means these days. This is the time to reassess and see what makes the most sense for your clients.

One final observation – we have never seen anything like this in history. In the words of Barbara Perry, a presidential historian at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, “ Like all things with Trump, it’s unprecedented.”

It’s true. It’s worth pondering.