Handle PR Like Donald Trump

PR Tips from The Donald

Politics is one of those things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company. However, as a nation, we can’t seem to quit talking about the phenomenon of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

Regardless of your political leanings, Trump is fascinating to consider from a PR/branding perspective. While on the one hand he seems to be breaking all the traditional campaigning rules, he’s clearly figured out what it takes to make headlines on a daily basis and sell the Trump brand. Consider some of his more successful tactics:

Concise, consistent, and often provocative messaging. Trump speaks in soundbites that can be easily quoted in a 140-character Tweet. He is, after all, the guy who mainstreamed the expression, “You’re fired!” Along the campaign trail he’s delivered one quotable comment after another as he has called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” his fellow candidates “liars” and “cheats,” and himself “really rich” and “very handsome.” His promise to supporters boils down to the simple statement that he will “make America great again.”

Authenticity. Trump seemingly says what he thinks and does not sugar-coat it. He is who he is, bad hair and all, and makes no apologies for offensive remarks. Whether true or contrived, he talks bluntly off the cuff, repeats himself and his message often, and remains consistent.

Controlling the story. Trump has learned how to control the story of the day to his benefit. Rather than discuss how he didn’t win Iowa, Trump shifted the messaging and focused on Ted Cruz and his campaign’s fabrication of a story that Ben Carson was dropping out. Instead of talking about his decision to miss a debate, Trump orchestrated a benefit for veterans to occur at the same time as the missed debate. Trump spins the news to put himself in the best possible light.

KISS principle. As in, keep it simple, stupid, Trump keeps his speeches on about an 4th grade level versus the 8th grade level of his competitors. Sure he’s short on details, but Trump knows his audience doesn’t want to hear about the minutia of an economics program; they just want to be assured that Trump will make America great again.

Whether The Donald would make a great president is a great topic for debate. However, when it comes to self-promotion, Trump is already a PR king.

1 reply
  1. Ken Krause
    Ken Krause says:

    This is a great article, Michelle. One of the things I’ve heard about Trump for those who analyze his speeches is they are primarily made up of one-syllable words. He also uses a lot of action words and hits emotional triggers rather than trying to explain advanced economics or foreign policy to the masses.

    It seems to be working for him. I know ad equivalencies are a bad way to measure PR, but I heard on the radio yesterday someone estimated The Donald has generated $1 billion in coverage.

    Regardless of the outcome of the election, I have a feeling his campaign is going to be a case study in communications and journalism schools for many years to come.


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