Just days ago, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation, thus shedding more light on turbulence within the White House communications team. And yet, as new intra-department issues may emerge, the White House’s comms team is no stranger to public criticism. A June 2017 study from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism reveals just how big of an impact the communication team has made on the field of public relations over the past few months.
The study examined survey results of 900 public relations professionals who were asked various questions about the current White House Communication team. Of these 900 professionals, 90 percent believe Sean Spicer’s performance had “a negative impact on the perception of their profession,” and nearly 60 percent described Spicer’s impact as “very bad.”
However, Spicer wasn’t the only culprit identified in the study, 90 percent of respondents believe Kellyanne Conway has also contributed to giving PR a bad image. And as for the communications team as a whole, less than 12 percent of respondents agreed that the team acts “like PR professionals,” with only 13 percent of respondents agreeing that team members “are strategic in their approach.”
According to the director of USC Annenberg’s Center for Public Relations, Fred Cook, “It’s clear from the results of our survey that the PR industry would prefer to distance itself from the current White House communications team, whose practices are not reflective of the values of the broader industry.” And as Spicer is back on the job market, finding a new gig may not be a piece of cake. The report stated, “…the majority indicated they would not hire the current Press Secretary or Deputy Press Secretary in a PR-related job, if they were in a position to do so,” who, at the time was Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, respectively.
The overwhelming sentiment of USC’s study is that yes, the current White House communication team is making a bad name for public relations professionals. But with the team not only under the new leadership of Anthony Scaramucci, but also with Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepping in as Spicer’s replacement, will the team be able to make a publicity turn around?