Today, Anthony Scaramucci left the White House, resigning his post as Communications Director after only ten days.
Truth be told, I celebrate this. And, not for political reasons. My reasons are entirely professional.
The simple fact is Scaramucci’s ascension to the highest and most visible PR position in the country was an insult to hard-working communications professionals everywhere. It reeks of the absurd belief that anyone can do our job.
Well, I’ve got news for you. Our job is hard. It requires skill, finesse, professionalism, patience, persistence, charm, a love of story-telling, a respect for reporters and an absolute dedication to truth.
From what little I saw of Anthony Scaramucci’s performance as White House Communications Director, he possessed none of the above. And, it’s not just me saying this. Last week, after Scaramucci’s rookie mistake in delivering an expletive-laden rant about his colleagues to the New Yorker, the folks at PR Daily offered free courses and training to help him understand how this job works.
PR Week characterized Scaramucci’s first (and it turns out, only) week on the job as “bizarre” – including the report that he threatened to fire the entire communications department over internal leaks.
This is hardly a page out of Dale Carnegie.
In fact, in an early morning tweet last Wednesday, he called for the FBI to investigate the “leak” of his financial disclosure forms, accusing then-Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus of doing the leaking. (Scaramucci subsequently deleted the tweet.)
As PR Week later reported, senior White House officials are required to publicly release financial forms.
Ellen Moran, EVP and GM at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, who served as President Obama’s Communications Director early in his first term explained,
“I don’t know how you leak a public document. I can only assume he wanted to send a pretty chilling signal to the rest of his staff.”
And, for me, that pretty much sums up Scaramucci’s entire reign as White House Communications Director. It wasn’t about the job. It was about smacking down perceived enemies. It was about being a bully.
But, that will never work in PR because this job is about charm and disarm. Whether you’re talking to a client, a reporter or your hard-working staff, friendliness and respect will get you the result you want; not bullying. This is especially true when it comes to the press.
In fact, every successful PR pro I know possesses an undying respect for the Fourth Estate and everything for which it stands. For me, I fell in love with the press when I saw All the President’s Men as a kid. Anthony Scaramucci appeared to express only disdain for the press and that was his first mistake. In this business, you have to give to get. You have to put in the time – the time to know your clients and their products and their business; the time to know your target media and their beats and reporting style; the time to know your staff and their needs and goals. PR is a job where you have to serve many masters, so to speak. You must be a resource to your client/employer, the media you target and the team that delivers results.
So, as someone who has devoted her entire adult life to the pursuit of professional public relations engagement, I am glad to see that putting just anyone in the job doesn’t work. Politics aside, Scaramucci’s departure is a win for PR Pros everywhere.