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Melania Trump

Melania Trump Responds to Tennis Court Backlash

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By Robert Safir

Melania Trump took a lot of heat recently for caring more about working on the White House tennis court than the dangerous coronavirus. Is this part of her "Be Best" initiative? Is it really fair to judge Melania Trump against former first ladies?

In 2018, Melania revealed her official “Be Best” plan, which was a three-pillar initiative targeting issues facing children: well-being, social media, and opioid abuse. At this announcement, Melania said, “I feel strongly that as adults, we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.”

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The "Be Best" Initiative

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To take a closer view of Melania’s efforts, we first have to overlook the name of her plan, “Be Best.” Melania received a lot of backlash based simply on the name, which is actually an incomplete sentence or tagline. “Be Your Best” would be better grammar, so many perceived this program from the get-go as an example of broken English. Perhaps looking back, this is a somewhat harsh criticism. It’s difficult to know how good or bad anything is coming from the White House when it’s already embroiled in controversy and the negative vibes of today’s political climate.

Online Safety

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Unsplash | Sergey Zolkin

As part of Melania’s three pillars, online safety faced criticism because of the unavoidable link between Melania’ championing of online kindness and the Donald Trump’s frequent use of Twitter to name-call, bully, and otherwise impose negative energy. In essence, she was saying “Do as I say, not as my husband does.” Melania hit back at critics and decided to forge ahead in spite of the implied irony.

This campaign about “online kindness” was meant to specifically target children. It remains unknown to this day whether or not the program has had any positive effect

Visits to Other States and Other Countries

City of Egypt
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In November of 2016, Melania went on a trip through four African countries to learn about American aid efforts and initiatives in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt. Then in March of 2019, she went on a two-day trip through Oklahoma, Washington State, and Nevada, the purpose of which was to talk to business and community leaders about implementing some of the initiatives of "Be Best."

It is also not clear what the actual effects of some of her other initiatives have been, for example knowing whether or not “Be Best" actually reduced cyberbullying.

Public Invisibility

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It is likely that some PR professionals would argue that even if there have been some accomplishments, and even if Melania had some important things to say, she remains publicly semi-invisible. She doesn’t make YouTube videos; she doesn’t do the talk show circuit, and thus produces very little public awareness. But she remains unconcerned with whether or not those things would be beneficial. As it is, most of the substance of her initiatives is being written – literally – by her publicity department.

Melania seems unconcerned about the talk show circuit and is committed to rolling out “Be Best” in her own way, on her own timeline. For anyone interested in more specifics, remember that there are no metrics in place to measure success. That means in one way, we don’t know if she has anything important to say. But in another way, Melania is doing just fine – thank you very much.

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