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The Most Bizarre Press Conference in PR History

A breathtaking display of public affairs incompetence.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The Four Seasons Total Landscaping press con­fer­ence… was weird.

After four years of scan­dals, the Donald Trump pres­id­ency was slowly end­ing — just as the vote count was start­ing to reveal Joe Biden as the next US president. 

Even as a Swede, I closely fol­lowed the drama.
I knew we would be in for a slice of mod­ern PR history.

Let’s take a closer look:

Giuliani’s Approach: Don’t Get Angry, Get Mad

On the park­ing lot out­side Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, the Trump cam­paign took to the make­shift stage to com­ment on the dire situ­ation for Donald Trump and his dwind­ling chances of remain­ing in office.

The press con­fer­ence was highly anti­cip­ated; it wouldn’t have been out­land­ish for any oth­er can­did­ate to con­cede at this point, but most of us knew that admit­ting defeat wasn’t exactly in align­ment with the administration’s playbook.

Instead, we got to see Trump’s law­yer, the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, put on a show for the cameras:

Giuliani was rampant, scream­ing and aggress­ive. At one point, he even demon­strat­ively looked up into the sky, with his arms straight up as if on a cru­ci­fix, as he just went on to declare unsub­stan­ti­ated voter fraud across the nation.

Ending up without any tan­gible proof for Giuliani’s raging voter fraud claims, we who were watch­ing the press con­fer­ence from home were left with the simple real­isa­tion that the Trump cam­paign had screamed:

Stop the count!” when they were in the lead,
“Count all the votes!” when they were behind, and
“Voter fraud!” when the res­ults were in.

Watching all of this unfold live, I scratched my head in bewilderment.

As one of three voter fraud eye­wit­nesses, Giuliani intro­duced “Philadelphia res­id­ent and GOP poll watch­er” Daryl Brooks. 

Like the oth­er two “wit­nesses,” Brooks spoke about hav­ing wit­nessed voter fraud without using those words or out­lining what he had seen.

My PR “spidey senses” made it dif­fi­cult for me to find Brooks cred­ible. Therefore, I wasn’t at all sur­prised when I later learned that Brooks was indeed some­thing of a char­ac­ter:

Brooks had been sent to pris­on in the 1990s for pub­lic mas­turb­a­tion and expos­ing him­self to two girls aged 7 and 11. Still, this didn’t stop him from run­ning for vari­ous offices, like the US Senate and the House of Representatives. 

Notably, Brooks always ran in New Jersey — nev­er in Philadelphia.


But let’s back up a few hours.

Enter: Four Seasons Total Landscaping

That day, Trump tweeted about the press con­fer­ence at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia. However, a new tweet was sent out shortly after, cla­ri­fy­ing that the loc­a­tion was Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

So, the Trump cam­paign hos­ted its press con­fer­ence at a park­ing lot across the street from a crem­at­ori­um and next to a sex shop.


Four Seasons Total Landscaping Press Conference
The per­fect spot for the most bizarre press con­fer­ence in PR history.

A PBS report­er called Four Seasons Total Landscaping and got the response that the Trump cam­paign wanted to use their park­ing lot because it was “secure and close to the I‑95.”

The Trump cam­paign explained that they had always inten­ded to host their press con­fer­ence at Four Seasons Total Landscaping; any men­tion of the Four Seasons Hotel was just an unfor­tu­nate com­mu­nic­a­tion error.


Make America Rake Again

Now, what about Four Seasons Total Landscaping, then? Well, the com­pany quickly took to selling t‑shirts and oth­er mer­chand­ise online:

Make America rake again.”
“Trying to make America green again.”
“Lawn & Order!”

America is the land of oppor­tun­ity, so why not take your lem­ons and squeeze some PR juice?

Make America Rake Again
Make America rake again. Any questions?

And the inter­net sure had its fair share of fun, too.

There’s now an 11-mile char­ity run from the Four Seasons Total Landscaping to the Four Seasons Hotel in the city — the Fraud Street Run.

Four Seasons Total Landscaping Charity Run
A char­ity run is always a good idea.

And Ochre Jelly went on to sug­gest the Lego set Definitely Winning:

Press Conference | Media Relations | Doctor Spin
I would build this Lego set.

And there’s an online peti­tion on Change​.org to add the Four Seasons Total Landscaping to the nation­al register of his­tor­ic places.

Now, all of this is hil­ari­ous.
And breath­tak­ingly incompetent.

Still, there’s much dark­ness to this whole cir­cus, too. Many have sug­ges­ted this was a fit­ting, poet­ic end­ing to per­haps the most con­tro­ver­sial US pres­id­ency ever.

A pres­id­ency that intro­duced con­cepts such as fake news and altern­at­ive facts.

We still don’t know how far Trump’s law­yers are pre­pared to push this agenda of try­ing to over­throw the demo­crat­ic pro­cess and keep power over the world’s most power­ful nation. Still, that should be more chal­len­ging than arran­ging a press con­fer­ence in Philadelphia. 1Update: The Trump admin­is­tra­tion did push the agenda of try­ing to over­throw the demo­crat­ic pro­cess. On the 6th of January 2021, after a Donald Trump speech, an angry mob of Trump sup­port­ers stormed … Continue read­ing

All in all, this wasn’t just an epis­ode of Veep.
This was a slice of mod­ern PR history.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: PR and Stoicism

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

The Stoic PR Professional

I’m inspired by Stoicism — and intrigued by the idea of trans­lat­ing clas­sic­al Stoic vir­tues (wis­dom, cour­age, justice, tem­per­ance) and apply­ing them to pub­lic relations:

The Wisdom Pitch

A Stoic is someone who trans­forms fear into prudence, pain into trans­form­a­tion, mis­takes into ini­ti­ation, and desires into under­tak­ing.”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Tell PR stor­ies of how organ­isa­tions can be wise and over­come obstacles that have stopped oth­ers in their tracks. Convey PR mes­sages on how to apply wis­dom, know­ledge, and experience.

The Courage Pitch

We can­not choose our cir­cum­stances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
— Epictetus

Tell PR stor­ies of brands that nev­er back down in the face of hard­ships that would lay waste to oth­er organ­isa­tions. Convey PR mes­sages of how an organ­isa­tion can be right­eous even when storms are raging.

The Justice Pitch

Concentrate every minute on doing what’s in front of you with pre­cise and genu­ine ser­i­ous­ness, ten­derly, will­ingly, with justice.”
— Marcus Aurelius

Tell PR stor­ies of how organ­isa­tions relent­lessly can strive for hon­esty and trans­par­ency — even when uncom­fort­able. Convey PR mes­sages about how all brands, without excep­tion, can rid them­selves of dis­hon­esty and incompetence.

The Temperance Pitch

It’s not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.”
— Seneca

Tell PR stor­ies of organ­isa­tions that strive for high­er val­ues in a world where all oth­er organ­isa­tions suf­fer short­sighted­ness. Convey PR mes­sages of organ­isa­tions pre­pared to abstain from short-term gains to make the world bet­ter for all.

Learn more: Stoic Philosophy for PR Professionals

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1 Update: The Trump admin­is­tra­tion did push the agenda of try­ing to over­throw the demo­crat­ic pro­cess. On the 6th of January 2021, after a Donald Trump speech, an angry mob of Trump sup­port­ers stormed the Capitolium and trashed the place.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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