Scaramucci's memo spelt out grand PR plans for Donald Trump

Former White House communicators director Anthony Scaramucci had a content-focused vision for US President Donald Trump's media strategy
Former White House communicators director Anthony Scaramucci had a content-focused vision for US President Donald Trump's media strategyPHOTO: EPA / AFP

WASHINGTON - Former New York financier Anthony Scaramucci might have lasted just 10 days as US President Donald Trump's communications director, but according to a lengthy memo he drafted, he had grand plans to shake up the PR strategy of the White House.

This included concerted efforts in "humanising" Mr Trump; setting up a complaint box for journalists; and using controversial advisor Kellyanne Conway more. 

"An effective Comms shop will dictate the news of the day on most days," Mr Scaramucci wrote in the rough draft of the memo that was sent to Cernovich Media and reported by journalist Mike Cernovich.

Under Mr Scaramucci, the White House communications department was to be more aggressive and content-based, exercising influence over the news cycle through a "refined Roger Ailes theory" and by filling "the content void".

He said that the communications team would be run like a news channel, with producers, scripts and narration. He also wanted to leverage the talents of Ms Conway, Mr Trump's counsellor, to get the president's message across.

The strategy listed five priorities for a White House communications team under Mr Scaramucci, namely:

1) IMPROVE THE CULTURE

Proclaiming that "everything is possible with a good culture, nothing is possible without it", Mr Scaramucci outlined steps to meet with media members whenever possible to foster better working relations.

He stressed that the White House should leave old grudges behind, but never forget. He also proposed meetings with White House and Cabinet communications staff to seek constructive inputs and ideas as an ongoing process rather than an isolated initiative.

Furthermore, he sought to implement a series of "professionalising initiatives", such as forbidding communications personnel from going home without returning all calls, e-mails and texts.

He called for establishing a meritocracy where good work was recognised in a consistent and formal way and stated his intent to prevent White House leaks by eliminating "bad eggs" in the communications team.

The memo further stated Mr Scaramucci's intent to upgrade talent incrementally and reach out to "Cabinet, Congress, the RNC, and surrogates and validators throughout the country".

2) COMMUNICATIONS IS A CUSTOMER SERVICE OPERATION

Mr Scaramucci underlined that the White House Communications team needed to be structurally reorganised to serve its various customers. In this regard, he stressed that the President of the United States (POTUS) was the "Number One Customer".

This entailed creating a group dedicated to service as a PR department for Mr Trump and his family members, humanising and burnishing their image through messages that pushed messages such as "POTUS is the best golfer to serve as President".

Another group would be dedicated to handling hot issues and crises, while a strategy group would work with colleagues throughout the White House to develop communication strategies and executable plans.

Mr Scaramucci wrote that responsibilities also needed to be clearly defined for important roles, which would provide for better performance and accountability. He also said that the media was another important communications customer, asserting that "POTUS can choose to fight with the media, but Comms can not".

In this regard, he suggested working to de-escalate tensions with the media and challenging stories that were unfair or untrue without being combative. He also called for the creation of a "complaint box" for the media.

Another prong of this strategy was to treat Cabinet members and their staff as customers too, underlining that while his team would set the message, other officials would better serve the president if they were treated as members of Mr Trump's team.

Mr Scaramucci also highlighted the role played by surrogates and validators, outlining the need to service, support, and coordinate their efforts. He made the point that all actions and decisions of the communications team needed to be evaluated through a single prism - "does it help POTUS".

3) MAKE THE NEWS - WE GO FIRST

Stressing that "execution is everything", Mr Scaramucci said the communications team needed to be run like a news channel with producers, scripts and narration.

He reiterated his demand for accountability and individual responsibilities and indicated that while existing staff would be given "the opportunity to raise their games", changes would be required.

He added that communications should use strategies and tactics based on measurable metrics and work to fix the "numerous things" that were broken. The team needed to be "super responsive", according to Mr Scaramucci, acting as a gate-keeper or air traffic controller over all external communications and anticipating media follow-ups and reactions.

He also floated his idea of a "refined Roger Ailes theory", where his team would exercise influence over the news cycle because Mr Trump and the government made news and dictated the news on most days.

He wanted communications to control who spoke to the media "always" and better explain how Mr Trump's actions were helping Americans. "Tomorrow will be won today. Tomorrow morning is too late," Mr Scaramucci wrote of his plan for the department to start earlier "chronologically", adding that every communications message needed to have a nexus to "Make America Great Again".

"Comms needs to equip POTUS with opportunities to make many more positive announcements. The ratio of positive to negative is out of balance, and the responsibility to correct this lies with Comms," he wrote and also suggested greater use of Mr Trump's counsellor Ms Conway.

"She has consistently been the President's most effective spokesperson, and she provides a direct link to the President's historic electoral victory," he wrote.

4) FILL THE CONTENT VOID

Mr Scaramucci said that in addition to written word production such as speeches and press releases, the White House should vastly increase the amount of visual, video and graphical images that it produced to communicate Mr Trump's message.

He said the team needed to identify and engage a broader network of surrogates or validators to make TV appearances or write op-eds in support of Mr Trump, noting that either the White House filled up the space in the media with their content, or the traditional media would.

Mr Scaramucci said Mr Trump should regularly provide op-ed pieces to major publications to advance his agenda and suggested that as "the greatest TV star in history", Mr Trump should appear in regular video content styled along the lines of The President Donald J. Trump show.

"People are fascinated by the lives of their Presidents and the operation of the White House. POTUS is the greatest TV star in history. Comms should produce video content that constructively operates as 'The President Donald J. Trump' show. Obama scratched the surface of this. POTUS should take it to the next level," he wrote.

Mr Scaramucci suggested that rather than traditional press conferences, Mr Trump should take questions via Facebook Live and other social media platforms. Another idea was a modernised fireside chat where the President and another administration official such as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Ms Conway would discuss "relevant issues, with an average running time of 15-20 minutes.

Text polling was suggested as a way to produce engagement, as was the concept of connecting Mr Trump to the "importance, power and grandeur of the office".

5) JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

The fifth priority of the communications team was to emphasise the economy early and often, with Mr Scaramucci stressing that with the economy doing well, the president should take credit.

He wrote that the message should be that businesses were investing more and that more jobs were being created. "Trump breeds confidence. Confidence=more jobs," he wrote.

He said the White House communications team would coordinate with the Commerce, Treasury and State Departments, among others, to identify a steady stream of examples of the Trump administration providing support to businesses, underlining that every positive piece of economic data needed to echo through the communications eco-system.

He also said that when the media or Democrats attacked Mr Trump, the communications team should pivot to the economy. "For example, real Americans do not care about palace intrigue in the White House. POTUS is leading and fostering an economy that makes their lives better. That's what real people care about," wrote Mr Scaramucci.

However, with Mr Scaramucci being unceremoniously being sacked, his communications vision will now be rolled out elsewhere. Mr Cernovich reported that Mr Scaramucci was due to hold a live press conference on social media to discuss his plans to create an off-West Wing press shop with the sole purpose of supporting Mr Trump's America First agenda.