Lessons to Learn After NBC Dumps Trump

A photo of billionaire Donald Trump in front of the NBC peacock logo
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"Trump Gets Dumped". "NBC to Donald Trump: 'You're Fired'". The catchy headlines were easy to write when NBC decided to end its relationship with billionaire Donald Trump.

Trump had made controversial comments about Mexican immigrants as he launched his 2016 campaign for president. According to USA Today, Trump said he would build a wall between the two countries and make Mexico pay for it because he says Mexico is sending people to the U.S. who are rapists, drug dealers, and criminals, but a few good people, as well.

He may learn that no amount of money, fame or power can insulate him from the wrath of public and corporate pressure.

Media pros don't have to be in the penthouse suite to suffer career-ending damage for saying the wrong thing. Social media can be both a useful tool and a landmine of destruction if you get careless with your comments.

Media Pros Are in the Public Eye at All Times

The most common mistake is to assume that your personal, off-the-clock time belongs to you to say or do whatever you wish. A TV news anchor who wears a T-shirt for a political campaign will find out fast that's a no-no. It doesn't matter if the candidate is her best friend.

Trump clearly couldn't mix his desire to attract voters who are fed up with immigration while also representing NBC. It didn't matter that his speech against Mexican immigrants wasn't part of an NBC program. He is so linked to The Apprentice that NBC couldn't risk its own reputation.

So NBC dropped Trump, not only from The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice reality shows, but the network will also not air the Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants, which are also connected to Trump.

The lesson here is that Trump not only lost his face time on TV, which he would have been forced to give up once he declared himself a presidential candidate, but he lost a business deal with the pageants.

Details of ending that contract may be messy to work out, but NBC couldn't be seen as supporting his statements.

Media Pros Have Little Defense When the Public Turns Against Them

You've heard the saying that perception is reality. Public perception usually prevents someone like Donald Trump from talking his way out of the mess he faces. Statements that start with, "What I meant to say was..." or "My comments were taken out of context..." do little to convince a skeptical public to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Trump tried tweeting, "I love Mexico... but not unfair trade deals." Arguing about trade wasn't what erupted public sentiment against him. He also blasted NBC for "...not understanding the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States." No one seems to disagree that there's an issue involving immigration, but again, that's not what has people upset.

So Trump has done little to reverse the storyline, other than to make it obvious that he knows he made an enormous PR blunder. This also comes at a time when the Republican Party is trying to win over Hispanic voters. The party's own reputation has likely been tarnished if voters think Trump represents the party platform.

A media pro would be better off with a simple, sincere apology. Forgiveness will likely not come overnight, but perhaps in time, according to the public's timetable. That appears to be what former NBC anchor Brian Williams is doing as he strives to rebuild his own reputation after exaggerated personal stories of covering the news got him booted down to MSNBC.

A Public Scorned Will Take Action Quickly Against You

Thanks in part to social media, it doesn't take long for an angry public to rally itself against you. A change.org petition received hundreds of thousands of signatures from people demanding that NBC take action against Trump.

There was little Trump could do in response. No news conference or printed statement would make that groundswell dry up overnight. The more Trump talked, the worse it got.

Any media pro who displays poor personal conduct will likely find himself in the same unwinnable PR showdown. If an on-air personality gets a DUI, his station or network might decide to let him keep his job if he gets professional help. But once the public has its say, the company may find itself with no other choice than termination.

That's one reason media contracts often contain morals clauses. It makes it easier for the company to fire you if you say or do something that embarrasses the company, even if it's on your own time.

Trump is in no danger of losing his fortune or his fame. Some voters might even agree with his original comments on Mexico. When Trump tries to work deals between his corporate empire and others, executives at those other companies will likely think twice about doing business with a person whose mouth often gets him into trouble.