Tensions in the country are higher now after this election than after just about any time in memory. Violence in the streets and in our schools. People being hateful and divisive on Facebook and Twitter, and folks yelling at their relatives … more than usual … over politics.
All that discord begs the question: will the country recover in time for Turkey Day? Tempers are high, nerves are frayed, and relationships have taken a beating as family members sparred for more than a year over their pick in this year’s Presidential election.
In a recent article in the Associated Press, people shared heartbreaking stories about parents and children so at odds over the election that they are refusing to see each other this holiday season. Seems like there will be a lot of lonely turkey dinners thanks – or NO thanks – to the acrimony that dominated Trump v. Clinton.
Others are expecting things to just be a little bit more awkward and uncomfortable, maybe a bit quieter, but hoping everyone still shows up. Some are looking for ways to talk about anything else but politics this holiday season. That’s a good first step into some solid public relations tactics that will help you make the most of this holiday season, despite any underlying political divides.
Remember, PR is about connection. It’s about how others see you and how your message connects with what matters most to them. So, if we’re talking about your friends and family, these are people you know very well. You know a lot more about them than their political affiliation and views. Prepare your narrative and think of some questions or conversation transitions that will diffuse any potential blowups before they happen.
Understand there will be other more volatile narratives. Another important aspect of PR is how to run interference against other narratives. You will have that uncle, aunt, nephew or grandparent who has a few too many and Just Can’t Stop Talking. You need to be able to steer the conversation away from the negative message and pivot to something positive that will keep people from slamming doors and throwing mashed potatoes.
Finally, prepare for crisis action if all your efforts fail. Sometimes in PR, despite your best efforts your image or narrative goes off the rails. People just don’t want to hear it, or there’s another one they like better. In that situation, you need to have a crisis PR plan. It might be leaving the room a bit to regroup – hey, mom probably needs help with the dishes – or it might be an opportunity to just stay quiet and listen before responding. Maybe Uncle Vern or Cousin Bella just needs a minute to Be Heard. Don’t take it personally, and be ready to drive your positive narrative home when you see an opening.