Written by Janitha Sukumaran, Founder & Consulting Director of Rantau PR Malaysia

In any organisation – government, corporate, non-profit – a Communications Director champions the vision and mission that have been crystalised. He manages both internal and external communications, and often becomes a key spokesperson for the organisation. He speaks in ‘One Voice’ with the leader of the organisation and should put his ego and personal ideologies aside if he is to be successful in this position.

So, when a Communications Director detracts from the messages that have been agreed upon, there is bound to be chaos in the house, and should he remain in this position, then the organisation must brace itself for ‘disrupted business’ compounded with embarrassment. At this point, it is time to fire the spokesperson.

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This pretty much happened in the White House. Its 10-day old (temporary) Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci aka The Mooch, was fired by newly appointed Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, with President Trump’s blessings.

Scaramucci was recruited by President Trump who was looking for a word warrior with a kindred spirit who would mirror his style of combative communications. Perhaps, the President should have taken a step back and instead appointed someone who would be able to verbalise and expound his personal and political policies and goals, instead of becoming his alter ego, a move, which has backfired, with Scaramucci raising eyebrows with his foul-mouth comments, subsequently upstaging his boss.

In fact, perhaps both President Trump and his future Communications Director should take some time to read The White House Transition Project 1997-2017, which is designed to provide information to incoming White House staff members. In its updated Report #2017-33 on ‘The Office of Communications’, it is stated that ‘the communications operation provides a President with the opportunity and the resources to coordinate the publicity for his administration and to shape his statements and explanations in a manner that will achieve his personal, policy, and electoral goals’. It further describes the Communications Director as an ‘official whose position is defined by his relationships with officials inside the White House and political people outside of the building. His work is defined by those he serves’.

President Trump has been in the office for 192 days, and has officially become the President with the most number of Communications Directors within the shortest period.

Sean Spicer January 20, 2017 March 6, 2017 45 days
Mike Dubke March 6, 2017 June 2, 2017 88 days
Sean Spicer
(Acting)
June 2, 2017 July 21, 2017 53 days
Anthony Scaramucci July 21, 2017 July 31, 2017 6 days

So, whether the next White House Communications Director is Dina Powell or some other Wall Street hothead, President Trump and his advisors should sit down and define how they want their new spokesperson to be viewed. Whether it is more important for this person to reflect the President’s ego or his vision.

Perhaps food for thought for all organisations out there looking at hiring their next Communications Director.