Donald Trump’s rise from political obscurity, where he was an established businessman and TV personality to the elite few who will make the final run toward president is a lesson in public relations mastery or absolute folly. Few would seriously argue that his first months on the campaign trail were seen by most as anything more than a stunt. His statements, one after another, more over the top than the previous with speeches that would sound like mental vomit, where everything in his brain would be hurled out on stage, in front of millions during the nightly news and yet, Donald Trump was nominated by the Republican Party to be their candidate for President of the United States. Is this Donald Trump PR genius or goof?
Earlier this week, Alex Altman wrote about Donald Trump’s campaign on this Not Just Hype blog saying, “While most Americans found his campaign tactics to be abhorrent, this too worked in his favor as it crystalized his image as a saboteur of political correctness. Somewhere between calling Mexicans ‘rapists’ and refusing to immediately condemn the KKK, he become a hero for a swath of the country whose views had never been so prominently represented in the political process.”
In PR we talk about being on message, a lot. You have to be on message every time otherwise, media and those who follow, in this case politics, start to wonder what is going on. You ask, if they realize that what they said today contradicts what was said yesterday. Scarier still is that if you are not on message and your staff is, then your staff is now publicly contradicting you!
So, does Donald Trump have messages that he is pushing out consistently? Yes, of course he does, but unlike so many before, he mixes his messages with the train-of-thought ramblings that seem to come so natural to him. Even more so, Donald Trump seems to know what the most outrageous thing to say at that given moment. He risks his credibility with statements about Muslins being banned, sexist remarks – too numerous to track, venomous attacks on opponents and those in the media who cover his campaign to name just a few, but he does have a message plan.
What are the messages? You will recognize them:
- Make America Great Again!
- Build a wall along our southern boarder – make the Mexican government pay for it
- Fix Obamacare
- Reform the tax code
- Protect American interest in international trade
- Reform immigration
- Retain the Second Amendment
You can probably add several others to the list, along with other snafus and seemingly wrong positions to take and still be considered a legitimate candidate, but despite his PR miscues and his dance with disaster, Donald Trump has gathered a strong following that has taken the nation by storm.
In my opinion, win or lose, this campaign will change the United States forever. Politicians that want to do nothing or simply cover their own butts will have to beware, because they may have their own Donald Trump lurking to unseat them in the next election.