It’s not even 2016 yet, and the news is already exploding with stories on the GOP politicians who have announced candidacies to be the next President of the United States. However, one is coming under more media fire than the rest.
Actually, Donald Trump is under fire from just about everybody for his controversial comments on topics including illegal immigrants, Senator John McCain and prisoners of war, and Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly.
Trump-hate seems to be rampant across party lines, yet polls show that his popularity is growing.
Karwoski & Courage senior VP and managing director Glenn Karwoski highlighted this topic in an article for Twin Cities Business, explaining that Trump’s unfiltered attitude is attractive because it sets him apart from the other candidates. Meanwhile, some publications like Forbes claim that Trump’s strategy is to be hated.
Does Donald Trump Actually Have A PR Strategy?
Trump is known for being a provocateur; he ruffles feathers on purpose. This is absolutely part of his brand. But is it a strategy?
My guess is probably not, especially now that his campaign advisor, Roger Stone, has quit (or as Trump claims, was fired).
Trump doesn’t stand to gain all that much from being president. He’s already a billionaire and a hugely successful public figure, and he’s not a career politician.
I have a hard time believing that Donald Trump sits at a round table with a media relations team brainstorming late into the night, carefully crafting messages that will inspire the most public outrage.
If you look at this timeline, you’ll see that this campaign is hardly different from all of the other times Trump has considered joining the political arena. It doesn’t seem like he’s spicing it up this year for shock value – he’s simply being the way he’s always been.
If He’s So Offensive & Doesn’t Have A Strategy, Why Is He Still Doing Well In The Polls?
Trump voices frustrations that many Americans may share, but when pressed to offer solutions, he usually comes up empty. Despite this, and his offensive comments, he’s still coming out on top in polls. Why?
People aren’t stupid. It’s painfully obvious when someone isn’t being genuine.
Trump’s off-the-cuff attitude and blatant refusal to patronize the media prove that he’s not just saying things to manipulate people and influence their votes. When viewed next to the other candidates, he is set apart by the fact that the presidential race is not a popularity contest for him.
He doesn’t need anyone’s money or media support to run his campaign, and his hostile indifference to the media brands him as a radical alternative to the career politicians we’re used to seeing.
What Can Communications Professionals Learn From Donald Trump?
Think about all the times we’ve seen companies issue public statements or apologies that come off as obligatory and are so agonizingly generic that they become impossible to take seriously.
Trump is on the opposite end of the spectrum; he takes people by surprise and is unapologetic in every sense of the word. Realistically, he can’t expect to offend everyone under the sun and win the presidency, and he ultimately runs the risk of imploding his own campaign with his total lack of diplomatic effort.
That being said, communications professionals can strike a balance between covering all the PR bases (legal, brand standards, reputation management) and conveying Trump-style sincerity.
In other words, while we can’t be recklessly inconsiderate like Trump, we can show our audiences that we respect their intelligence by creating a message that doesn’t come across like it’s been designed to tell them what they want to hear.
Though we shouldn’t emulate all of his behavior, we can take a lesson from Trump and garner attention and respect by crafting real messages that differentiate us from the standard. By being respectful and knowledgeable while simultaneously imparting a sincere thought without any perceived hidden motives, we can make an impact and rise above the everyday media noise.
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