How Free PR Helped Trump Win the White House
So, Obama’s out and Trump’s in. A shock result all round. But let’s not get bogged down in the credibility or otherwise of Trump as President of the US of A. Whether you love him or hate him, one thing you’ve got to admit: he’s a phenomenon, the likes of which have never been seen before on the American political stage.
Trump broke every rule in the conventional public relations rulebook. His rhetoric was often angry and bombastic. He seemed to speak before thinking. He made fun of people with disabilities. He alienated his own supporters. And during the course of the campaign, he called just about every elected leader who didn’t agree with him ‘stupid.’
But look where he is now. Despite all the controversy, he is America’s next President. And according to the New York Times, he received $2 Billion in free PR during his campaign. So he must have done something right.
Let’s have a look at why Trump’s PR and communications positioning worked.
He’s a bona fide celebrity
In a culture of celebrity, everyone knows Trump. He’s been a TV star and gossip-column item for years. And everyone knows his brand stands for wealth, capitalism and opulence.
He’s known for his personality, his golf courses and even his hair. And although he seems to give little thought to his public comments, he has cultivated his persona carefully over the years, with his unfiltered comments, bluntness and outsider status all part of his brand.
Because of this, Trump hardly had to spend anything on campaign advertising. He got free, wall-to-wall publicity due to his larger-than-life celebrity.
He’s supremely confident
One thing Trump has in spades is confidence. Mind you, it’s not your run-of-the-mill confidence. Trump has master-of-the-universe confidence that’s so bold and dismissive of contrary views or opinions that, at least for now, manages to represent the feelings of millions of frustrated Americans.
Confidence in your product or cause is important. Rightly placed, it’s almost always attractive. Certainly from a PR perspective, it’s vital to achieving your goals. After all, no one is going to support your position or cause if you’re not convinced by it.
He was authentic
Donald Trump didn’t talk political speak. He spoke candidly and directly using language that people understood. He repeated his campaign slogans at every possible opportunity, ingraining the words ‘it’s a movement,’ ‘build the wall’, and ‘make America great again’ firmly into the minds of his supporters.
He came across as authentic, as he spoke his mind. His controversial comments, which would most likely destroy a traditional campaign, helped him. His remarks were a welcome change for voters accustomed to political correctness and waffling candidates. In addition, he was consistent. Unlike many politicians, he stood by his controversial remarks.
He used hyperbole
Anyone who witnessed Trump’s meteoric surge to the top of the Republican presidential field will be familiar with his unique style of Trump Talk, a mix of bullish optimism and hyperbole. While his competitors gravely listed the country’s ills, Trump told voters how fantastic everything was going to be once he was elected, pledging to be ‘the greatest President God ever created.’ This appealed to the disillusioned public.
Trump once said of himself, ‘I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.’
And this approach worked for him. Say what you like about the man, this technique got results. He claimed a Trump administration would be the ‘best ever’. And at a campaign rally, he said ‘believe me, the jobs are coming back, folks. That’s going to be so easy.’
His absolute confidence in every bold claim he made won the public over and ultimately won him the election.
What does the future hold?
It was an unconventional campaign to say the least, but it worked. And now Trump is safely in power, it’s going to be interesting to see what he does next. But one thing’s for sure, love him or loathe him we’re going to be seeing Trump in the news for a long time yet.