Back in caveman times, the most successful hunter was the one with the power. Intuitively he knew he had to get the message communicated: Don't mess with me, as in don't sneak into my cave and pilfer a bear claw. So, when he caught miscreants doing just that he could club them to death. That was then.
With the dawn of civilization, power communications had to become subtle. Julius Caesar's enemies made the public announcement that they came to his funeral to praise him, not to bury (do a pile-on) him. There has developed an etiquette to the push-back aspect of power communications.
Here are four of the Machivellian fundamentals:
Factor in generational differences. When the Millennial and Generation Xers at Gawker intend to flex their power, they can do that directly. There is even heavy-duty profanity. The pile-on often is continued for a long time. According to their point of view, I did them wrong. That was several years ago. The flaming will flare up every few months.
Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation have to be indirect, for many reasons. The tone of those generations has been statesmanlike. Even raw media tycoons like Rupert Murdoch frame negative communications carefully. In addition, they are known deep pockets. That invites lawsuits for defamation. Not only could that cost them money. Lawsuits are bad for branding. Plus they are a distraction.
Know the law. See above.
Elicit third party support. That is one of the most ancient power tactics. In the French village in Medieval times, if you have a beef with the butcher (pun intended) you rallied the baker and the candlestick maker to join you in pushing back.
Now we call that "lobbying." Most astute players know it's imperative to weave together seamlessly forces of influence.
Know when to stop. Pound opponents on a sustained basis and you risk eliciting sympathy. Also, the whole enchilada becomes boring. The GOP had overplayed their hand attacking "Boy President" Bill Clinton. Soon enough even Clinton haters began rolling their eyes.
There are exceptions to this. Gawker's signature is relentlessness. It doesn't let go of the bone clenched between its teeth. Also, we expect conservative Drudge Report to not miss a trick in presenting negatives about liberals such as Hillary Clinton.
These four principals are the platform for configuring a campaign against any and all adversaries. It's an art, not formulaic. That's why the powerful hire top-notch public relations agencies and lobbyists. A pioneer genius in the art has been Bob Dilenschneider. In the early 1990s, he published the then-breakthrough book "Power and Influence."