Whether you are following the political debates this election year or not, I’m sure you have heard clips of Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, speak on the evening of July 18, 2016 at the Republican National Convention. Her speech had VERY similar phrases from a speech, First Lady, Michelle Obama gave in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention and while the entire speech was not copied word for word, it was more than just one compelling phrase or similar words, it was multiple. This in turn, has become a newsworthy topic of debate for many influential stations from CNN, Washington Post, and USA Today, just to name a few.
To catch you up to speed, here is what is under scrutiny:
Here’s the excerpt from Michelle Obama in 2008:
“And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”
“And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
Here’s the passage from Melania Trump’s remarks Monday night that came under scrutiny:
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect.
They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “plagiarism” is defined as: “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person,” and from the above phrases, you can see why others are calling her speech an act of plagiarism. As of Tuesday, July 19, 2016, no one on Trump’s campaign staff is being fired or reprimanded over the plagiarism of the speech, which leaves a question to be answered. Who is to be held accountable for this? Melania Trump or her staff writers?
Because this has become a huge topic of conversation overnight, as a public relations professional, I can’t help but ask myself if this is hurting our professional community. Are people, and more importantly clients, questioning if the words we submit on their behalf are plagiarized? While I certainly can’t speak on behalf of other public relations professionals on their ways to combat and ensure against this topic of discussion, this is what you can expect from us at Plaid Swan:
Here at Plaid Swan, we complete our due diligence to fact check and cross-examine all documents before they are sent to clients, as well as the press. We ensure the work we submit is original and not stolen from other thoughts or ideas. This holds true when we represent our clients, as well as ourselves.
All staff members of Plaid Swan must sign confidentiality agreements before their first day of employment. Employees’ ideas and plans submitted for a client will not be used for client’s competitors. Clients can rest assured that their marketing tactics will stay confidential between their business and Plaid Swan.
When conducting research briefs, we may be experts in our field, but we certainly may not be experts in our client’s business when we first begin working with them. When beginning our research briefs, we’ll research our clients business, industry, as well as competitors. As the final document is presented, clients will notice we cite our sources used to gather information.
As the Public Relations Specialist for Plaid Swan, it is my job to make sure content is not only accurate, but original. In the end, we hold ourselves accountable. I will be following this story in the next few days as more details arise. What are your thoughts? Do you think Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s?
Note: In an article about plagiarism, it seems wise to credit the USA Today regarding the paragraphs on the two speeches being referenced.
-Brittani Vanderweerd | PR Specialist
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