Whether you think Donald Trump is the good guy or the bad guy of American politics, one thing is for sure, everybody whether you live in Alaska or South Africa knows 1) who he is, 2) what he stands for and 3) is familiar with his public relations persona and gunslinger style of running his political campaigns.
Trump is an example of public relations gone bad backed by a brilliant content marketing strategy which has had a knock-on effect of garnering him massive public support.
It’s not a strategy any respectable public relations company would suggest to a brand looking for leverage in the marketplace but then in the case of Donald Trump, his particular strategy seems to be rooted in a decade long history of his own egoic self-belief – one that today had him pronouncing ‘I’m the Chose One’ in a ‘The Sun’ news clip.
Public Relations versus Content Marketing
What is public relations in its purest form? The professional maintenance of a favorable public image. Note the italic emphasis. It includes strategies for building mutually beneficial relationships within the media and your core market.
Content marketing, while similar, is not the same as public relations. Content marketing is the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that while not outright promoting a brand, intend to stimulate interest in the brands products or services.
Using a combination of public relations and content marketing Trump, the USA’s wealthiest President whose financial history is littered with reports of $1-billion in business losses, ran his Presidential campaign using the following publicity tactics to get himself voted as America’s next head of State.
5 Brand Strategies to use for public relations success:
- Define your target audience
- Follow a clear communications strategy to speak to your target audience
- Analyse the micro and macro spectrum of environmental influences
- Identify key messages
- Gain third party credibility
Trump achieved success by feeding into his celebrity status or as some would say, his notoriety by getting brasher and more sensational, working his social media platforms to create interest through hype that would get him shares and likes. It was subversive yet spoke to and galvanised the millions of middle Americans he knew he needed votes from.
How exactly did Trump so endear himself to the American public? He defined who his target audience was. He kept emphasising he was ‘just like you or me’. Notice how Trump never changed his hair style in reaction to social commentary, rather he kept the image of a middle aged man with bad hair and waited until he became a meme, gaining social status through humour and his own (perceived) vulnerability. This back-handed appeal was so compelling that leading up to the elections articles were written just about his hair, with Tweeters quoted “I don’t follow politics at all but I’m thoroughly enjoying the Donald Trump memes of his hair.”
Trump followed a clearly defined public strategy which aligned with his personal marketing plan. He knew he needed to speak the language of middle America and not as a millionaire living a gold-plated apartment in Trump Towers. He grew his skin thicker, his hair longer and wholeheartedly jumped into the fray.
He analysed the macro and micro environment affecting his business and identified key messages affecting those environments, even posting advertising clips of himself.
He worked the rule of third party credibility, the human tendency to value the opinion or expertise of someone outside one’s circle of influence – which can have a powerful impact on a brand as the 2016 elections showed.
He let social media virally market him as a ‘knowledgeable credible source’ as online networks forged relationships with other individuals and sub groups – and so his own public forum of recommendation grew.
At what point did Trump’s Presidential campaign moved from publicity to content writing (so online audiences stayed longer online engaging with the brand) is unclear but Trump effectively moved his publicity campaign out of the White House domain and made you, me and half the globe brand journalists on his behalf.
Trump’s vision of his brand (himself) has defined his purpose from the very beginning. Citizen journalism on the digital platform remains what it is, a breeding ground for dishonesty.
What then is to be done with media gone so awry?
We can respect the real press.
Print journalism as the 4th estate still stands (so far) as the pillar of democracy which acts as the counterbalance to opinion. One that questions and verifies information, often at risk of reputations and sometimes lives, to bring us a balanced account of facts as antidote to what might be currently trending as the ‘truth’ on digital platforms at any given time.
We can also use social media responsibly in our own personal capacity and consider our intentions before hitting that share button.
Need help with communicating your brand responsibly? Firehorse Media can launch your brand through a professional website, publicity, blogs and social media management at a reasonable price. Call +27 789707633.