Read about the effect President Trump’s Twitter presence has on brands, and how companies like Nordstrom have learned how to respond to criticism by the president, as told by the PRSSA Blog Team.
By: Jenna Mortenson
In a world that grows smaller every day, social media is a key aspect of reaching a wide variety of audiences. In the last few years, brands have integrated social media into many aspects of their communication strategies, especially related to crisis communication. Recently, however, it’s become necessary for brands to develop strategies to respond to posts on social media about their brand — including those posted by President Trump.
Just over a month ago, Nordstrom was faced with this dilemma, alongside many other companies: How were they to respond to criticism from the newly inaugurated president of the United States?
The controversy began to gain traction on February 2, 2017, when Nordstrom announced that they would stop selling the Ivanka Trump line in their stores. Despite the response from publics that the move was a veiled political response, internal emails from November 2016 — before the debate went public — indicated that Ivanka Trump products were already declining in sales, and Nordstrom said in an email to its employees that any final decision about the line would be based on this alone. The email also revealed that Nordstrom was actively aware of the fact that either continuing to carry or dropping the line could potentially result in a boycott of the company.
On February 8th, soon after the announcement that Nordstrom would drop the Ivanka Trump line, President Trump responded with a set of tweets on his personal account, @realDonaldTrump. He expressed disappointment that Nordstrom had chosen to drop the brand while complimenting the character of his daughter.
Nordstrom maintained the story that their response was not intended to be political. In a statement, the company said, “Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.” Their response strategy seemed to be effective, as immediately after Trump’s tweet was posted, their stock began to steadily increase over the next few hours.
Nordstrom, of course, is not the only brand to have faced this predicament in the last few weeks. Companies like L.L. Bean, The New York Times, Macy’s, and others have all received comments from the president through tweets and other forms of communication. However, while some other companies did not see a negative impact from Trump’s tweets, and some even saw financial recovery on the same day. Nordstrom’s brand was one of the first since the inauguration to see an immediate stock increase.
Here, Nordstrom’s response is an example of how a response that is said to be apolitical, can still hold political connotation. In a constantly evolving world where the news cycle is 24/7 and consumers are always hungry for new information, brands must be ready to respond to any situation — especially those that are unexpected. Today, when a single tweet can ignite a firestorm, companies must have an answer for whatever may come their way.