Who’s Handled PR for Donald Trump? Vets of Hiltzik, Golin and More

It's a tough job, but somebody chose to do it.

Given the fact that a certain probably-not-serious presidential candidate has been dominating headlines recently (and yesterday’s Daily Beast bomb was quite a catch), many people in the industry may find themselves asking, “Who is responsible for managing this car wreck in action, not to mention his poor relationship with the media?”

Yesterday The Washington Post and some of our friends helped us find a couple of answers to that question. First, WaPo identified Hope Hicks as The Donald’s “media handler, corporate aide, and the figure responsible for executing the details of the most surprising and divisive political rise in recent memory.”

In other words, she’s earning her pay and then some.

Some highlights from that story:

  • Hicks was a Hiltzik Strategies employee before leaving to work on “accounts related to Trump’s…ventures,” his daughter Ivanka’s staff and, eventually, his excuse for a campaign. The firm itself had this to say about the WaPo profile, for which Hicks herself wisely decline to comment:
  • She comes from a family of PR professionals: here’s an image via Elaine Ubina and Australia’s The Age of Hicks with her dad Paul B. Hicks, who is currently “Roger Goodell’s right-hand man” and formerly ran Ogilvy PR in the Americas.

hope hicks trump

  • Before Trump began his run, she (again, very wisely) deleted all of her social media accounts. You won’t even find her on Linkedin.
  • She allegedly transcribes his tweets, which range from barely coherent to blatantly sexist:
  • No matter how crazy the Trump show gets, it will be good for Hicks’s career: the piece describes her as Donald’s “sweet-natured counterpoint” and quotes a Hollywood executive praising her ability to do what is definitely a very demanding job.
  • She’s now Trump’s go-to spokesperson, politely declining to comment on everything from his stunt trip to the Mexican border to his confusing finances.
  • Her official title, according to the homepage of “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.,” is Press Secretary/Director of Communications.

Of course, Hicks is only Trump’s latest spokesperson.

In the past, that role was filled by Jim Dowd, longtime veteran of in-house roles at The History Channel and NBC as well as executive positions at Golin and SparkPR. His most recent title is founder of DOWD INK, which is less than six months old; Rocco Dispirito appears to be a fan. Sources tell us that Dowd is a consummate PR professional with a fondness for JFK conspiracy theories.

Dowd appears to have begun working with Trump when The Apprentice debuted on NBC in 2004, and his responses to his colorful client’s missteps are fairly epic. For example, Trump told Playboy in 2006 that he would probably date his daughter for her “very nice figure,” leading Dowd to issue this classic statement:

“[Trump was] absolutely joking…He was making fun of himself for his tendency to date younger women. It’s a sense of humor that people don’t see (from him) all the time.”

Indeed they don’t–and while we have no doubt that everyone on Trump’s team also has a great sense of humor, we also feel certain that their stress levels have jumped a notch or two over the past few weeks.

By the way, that Daily Beast story led Trump’s team to issue this statement to Business Insider:

“This is an event that has been widely reported on in the past — it is old news and it never happened. It is a standard lawyer technique, which was used to exploit more money from Mr. Trump especially since he had an ironclad prenuptial agreement.”

Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen also apologized to CNN this morning for claiming that spousal rape is not a real thing, saying, “In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment.”

Note that he did not apologize for threatening to do “f*cking disgusting” things to the Daily Beast employees who wrote the story. An unnamed spokesperson also told CNN that “Mr. Trump speaks for Mr. Trump and nobody but Mr. Trump speaks for him.”

Except his comms director, of course.