Compare and contrast Donald Trump with Irene McPhail.
I had just begun my career a public relations practitioner when I attended a charity event with my new boss, Irene McPhail. Cablevision, the large company we worked for, sponsored many nonprofit organizations and charitable causes, which was good PR for the business and a model of corporate social responsibility. During a raffle drawing near the end of the event, Irene’s name was picked and she won several hundred dollars. She came to the podium and announced she was giving her winnings back to the organization as a donation, because its mission deserved Cablevision’s continued support.
Not only was this a terrific PR move on behalf of the company, it showed me how selflessness could be so beautifully reflected by Irene’s simple action. It was a memorable life lesson for this 23-year-old.
Last week during a campaign appearance, a military veteran handed his Purple Heart medal to Donald Trump. The presidential candidate responded by saying, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” He took the man’s medal and put it in his pocket.
In spite of his daily onslaught of insults, exaggerations, fabrications, inappropriateness, narcissistic pronouncements, and downright nastiness, for me no other single act has shown Donald Trump’s true character more than this incident.
According to purpleheart.org, “The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.” Democratic congressional candidate Sean Barney, himself a Purple Heart recipient, commented, “I can tell you, no one should ever ‘want’ to get a Purple Heart.”
A smart, empathetic leader would have handed back that medal and thanked that veteran for risking his life for his country. Trump instead reacted with pure selfishness and disrespect. He could certainly learn something about good PR–and leadership–from my PR mentor Irene McPhail. Your thoughts?