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Melania needs PR help

From a Bloomberg View column by Kara Alaimo:

While the president’s approval ratings hit a new low this month, his wife’s are on the rise. A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 52 percent of Americans like Melania Trump — an increase of 16 percent since her husband took office. That far exceeds the favorability ratings of first ladies such as Michelle Obama and Laura Bush in their first years.

But it’s unlikely that Melania Trump will be able to stay popular without help. So far, she hasn’t hired a press secretary. … Every first lady since Jackie Kennedy had one by this point in her husband’s administration, according to Kate Andersen Brower, author of “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies.”

As any public-relations professional will tell you, prominent people have two options: to try to shape the narrative about themselves, or to let others do it for them. …

“There are so many requests coming into Melania right now and there’s no one there to decide what’s worth doing and what’s worth skipping,” she said. “It just leaves this big hole which people fill with their own interpretations of her. … But if she had a press secretary, she could do very coordinated interviews with media outlets to shape her image the way she wants to be seen.”

For example, Brower said, former first lady Michelle Obama’s team did a particularly great job of making her relatable to the American people. “The ‘mom dancing’ on [“The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon” was a way to really endear her to the public,” she said.

Brower says Melania Trump’s challenge is especially difficult because “her great wealth and really unattainable beauty” make it hard for everyday Americans to relate to her. But a press secretary could help Trump talk about aspects of her life that ordinary citizens understand. …

A spokesperson could also help her figure out how to effectively harness the powerful platform she commands.

Americans are unlikely to love a first lady who seems indifferent to the tremendous opportunity she has to do good. Melania Trump, who hasn’t moved to the White House yet because her son is finishing school in New York, has been largely invisible since her husband took office. She did, however, read to kids in a hospital and host a White House lunch about women’s empowerment …

A good press secretary would help Trump research and think through the issues she chooses to champion. … For example, in early November, Trump promised that if her husband were elected, she would use her platform as first lady to combat cyberbullying. Any good communication professional would have advised her against this.

To start with, her husband is widely considered the cyberbully-in-chief. … Melania Trump holds a staggering amount of potential power to improve both her own reputation and the world. Here’s hoping she finds someone to help her wield it.

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