Companies buy ‘Trump tweet’ insurance policies

(Media General)

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR MEDIA) — President Donald Trump’s unpredictable tweeting has unintentionally fulfilled his promise to create jobs and bolster the U.S. economy, at least in the crisis management sector.

Corporations are beginning to buy “insurance policies” to deal with fallout from hostile presidential tweets that can cost companies billions of dollars in value and revenue.

Trump has launched more than 60 such attacks by Yahoo’s latest count.

Leading public relations and crisis management firms in Washington have begun to offer preemptive insurance policy packages, extending security to corporate clients that fear being broadsided in 140 characters or less.

They don’t recoup clients’ money, but instead offer 24-7 public relations assistance should Trump’s ire befall them.

At one PR firm, leaders “issued a company-wide directive saying that Trump’s tweets should be treated the same way as an earthquake or flood,” reports Quartz.

Companies prepare for Trump wrath

During Trump’s first month in the White House, an array of insurance options have sprouted up for corporate doomsday preppers.

Richard Levick, CEO of crisis management firm Levick Communicating Trust, says he’s seen actual “insurance companies selling policies” in addition to “some communications groups creating these crisis entities specifically for tweet risks.”

On top of that, “We’re seeing an app to track your company’s stock if you’re the subject of a Trump tweet.”

The number of response tools, Levick says, speaks to the level of threat felt by many corporations when it comes to e-threats issuing from the Oval Office – or White House residence, as the case may be, on early mornings and late nights.

Internally, Levick is urging his clients to get all hands on deck, including, “investor relations professionals, brand and digital professionals, even the legal departments… because one way or another it’s going to have an impact at some point.”

Levels of risk

Domestic and global companies enjoy varying strata of Trump tweet risks.

For some, a nastygram from the chief executive would be like a fly buzzing around an elephant’s ear; others would become a fly under the elephant’s hoof.

It’s key, Levick tells clients, to know into which of three categories their company falls.

The main question to ask themselves, says Levick, is “Have their products become symbolic? LL Bean, is it becoming symbolic for being pro-Trump? Starbucks, is drinking a latte symbolic of being opposed to the president?”

1. Red state retailers

Companies that earn a large part of their revenue from so-called “Trump states” are being told to sit tight and stay silent.

This category would include big names with a broad customer base like Walmart and Cracker Barrel.

These are “the business-to-consumer companies, brand companies most selling in red states,” which, “for the time being – even though the president’s popularity continues to decline – for the time being he has a core base [and] you do not want to be one of the first companies that is moving away from him,” said Levick.

2. Government contractors

Businesses which rely on the government for business are advised to remain publicly neutral and privately deferential at this high-risk moment.

Corporations like Boeing and Lockheed Martin receive massive contracts from the federal government and stand to lose billions by displeasing Trump, so that option is off the table.

“Genuflect as much as you can to the president, embrace him as much as you can.” Levick reminds them, “He’s your most important customer.”

3. Liberal lions

Nordstrom and Trump recently went head to head when the high-end department chain dropped Ivanka Trump’s fashion line from its stores, citing poor sales.

The retail giant didn’t back down, despite its strategic business move being called “terrible!” by the president.

Consumers seemed to side with Nordstrom, with its stock spiking seven percent after Trump’s complaint.

Since Nordstrom sells largely to liberal customers, usually clustered on the coasts, they and similar companies’ futures won’t live or die by the president’s ever-typing fingers.

“Companies that have a large number of liberal or blue state consumers – the Nordstroms, the Starbucks, the tech companies – they’re in a position to stand up for what their values are,” Levick stated.

Following Nordstrom’s post-tiff bounce, the crisis manager also sees a shift coming in terms of the president’s power to bulldoze companies on Twitter, saying, “A few weeks ago we were saying he had the most powerful thumbs in the world, and that’s no longer true.”

But until that day comes, corporations will have to prepare for the worst and pay for solid PR insurance.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales

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