White House communications director Hope Hicks announced last week that she plans to resign from that post to “pursue other opportunities,” receiving President Trump's blessing. Hicks, the youngest person ever to fill the position, did excellent work — in what was clearly a very hard role, for a very hard boss — and by all accounts, was well-liked within the White House.
While there’ve been reports that the PR vet, who held stints at Zeno Group and Hiltzik Strategies, is considering crisis communications gigs, I think she’d do great at this — or any other role — she takes on. Can she possibly have any more pressure than the role she’s already filled at such a young age?
The 29-year-old has already proven her worth dealing with crises in her job, multiple times a day, often on completely different fronts. Beyond the professional challenges, the lifestyle takes a toll. You’re always on, and you’re traveling frequently, often with the President, on trips around the world. While in the position, she proved herself to be candid and even-keeled, character traits that allowed her to have great relationships with reporters and colleagues, by going well beyond what anyone would have asked or required of her.
As a model for both Ralph Lauren and Ivanka Trump, Hicks is no stranger to the limelight, yet possesses the keen ability to blend in while not being ignored, a necessary skill for a PR pro or a crisis communications expert. Beyond that, it’s in her DNA as a third-generation PR pro representing powerful figures and organizations. Her father represented the NFL and Big Tobacco, and her grandfather repped Texaco during the energy crisis of the ’70s. While she’s grown in her role, it’s clear that it’s in her bones, which is a must-have: combined with the demands both personally and professionally of the job, one has to believe she has the mettle to succeed in any future endeavor in the field.
Her time working for President Trump — undoubtedly one of the world’s most difficult PR clients — positions her well for whichever work she chooses to do in the private sector. By the way, let’s remember that Ms. Hicks is still shy of her 30th birthday and has the experience of working in what many would agree to be possibly the most chaotic White House environments of any President in recent memory, perhaps ever.
The lessons she’s learned while working in the face of such controversy equip her with a deep and wide-ranging PR toolkit. Of course, she still has plenty of time to learn from past mistakes and missed opportunities: very few people at her age have learned everything they need to reach their pinnacle.
Hicks clearly has the pedigree, experience and drive. According to a report released by the White House in July 2017, her income was the max for a White House aide, at $179,000 a year. This PR agency CEO suspects she’ll earn considerably more in the private sector PR world. Count me among those who’d be happy to interview her.