“The communications director has survived the storms of the Trump White House by doing what PR gurus do best: never, ever making the story about you. Until now.”
Hope Hicks is not a spokesperson, or a strategist, or a speechwriter. She is not Anthony Scaramucci — whose briefly-held position as White House communications director she permanently took over in September. She is a trained PR professional, whose primary task is to orchestrate or soften the blow of press coverage, not appear in it. Hope Hicks does not tweet. Not even a little bit. She does not appear on television. She does not agree to interviews. Her Instagram is private. When Olivia Nuzzi tried to profile her for GQ, Hicks invited Nuzzi to talk to Trump about her — while she sat in the back of the room.
To be truly skilled at this sort of PR doesn’t just mean constantly deferring to your client. It means disappearing. We don’t know what Hope Hicks’s voice sounds like. We don’t know her opinions, because she doesn’t have any that are public. Until very recently, most people outside of media and politics did not know she existed.
Last week, Hicks found herself at the center of a major White House scandal: Her then-boyfriend, White House staff secretary Rob Porter, was accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives. More than a week later, it’s still unclear who knew what about the accusations and when — and to what extent Hicks herself participated in attempting to blunt them. But simply by being involved, Hicks has committed the cardinal publicist sin: She became the story.