PR Experts Discuss The Strategy Of The New President, Donald Trump
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
on behalf of Holyrood Partnership
NOTHING TRUMPS CLEAR STRATEGY WHEN IT COMES TO WINNING IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
FOR A man who has just pulled off one of the most breath taking, power grabs in history, Donald Trump suddenly looks suspiciously like someone without a communications plan.
Public relations played an instrumental part in how Trump went from no-hope outsider within his own party to pipping runaway favourite Hillary Clinton in the Presidential race.
However, his favoured, ‘shoot from the lip’, firebrand-style of communications is likely to be found wanting from here on in. Boring old strategy, tactics, goal-setting, then measuring and evaluating will be essential in communications from the White House, but doesn’t sound like the stuff that will be top of The Donald’s TO DO list.
If his first press conference – nine days before his inauguration – was anything to go by, then the 45th President has no communication strategy in place. His address to the media was meandering, menacing and more of what we’ve seen before. Could it be that President Trump is not only missing a communications strategy – but any strategy at all?
To win the Republican nomination and then the election Trump set out to create so much noise he dominated all discussions. It was blaringly-loud, communications chaos. As a ‘strategy’ for the campaign trail it was highly effective. As a strategy for communicating from the highest office in the planet? Hmmm. Not so much.
So what lesson does this offer for a business like yours?
The first lesson is a wake up call for anyone prepared to listen. Public relations and powerful communications just work. Not only for billionaire, wannabe Presidents, but for businesses of any type and size. Businesses like yours.
And when you harness public relations, it helps deliver real positive results. PR wasn’t just one of the most powerful tools in Trump’s box of tricks, it was one of the most cost-effective. Bear in mind that every president in the modern era had to spend their way to office via massive advertising budgets. Not so The Donald, who attracted so much media coverage he didn’t have to spend big on ads.
If your business has no clear communications strategy tied to your business plan and objectives, then now would be a good time to consider cost-effective public relations of your own.
The second lesson strikes more of a cautionary note. A relentless pursuit of controversy and use of shock tactics clearly can work, as Trump has demonstrated in spades. But what next?
To date Trump has used PR as a distraction. He’s been a walking, talking media magnet for most of his life, so that delivering soundbites and controversial story lines is as easy as passing wind. And he passed a lot.
That brand of bluster, braggadocio and bellicosity was catnip to the media and he caused so much coverage it became impossible to tell fact from fiction; innuendo from intent; posturing from policy.
Publicity for publicity’s sake is a powerful weapon in a bareknuckle political fist fight like the US Presidential election – and that tsunami of media coverage helped carry him to office. In effect he blagged his way to the White House, leaving more questions than answers to a bewildered public in the US and elsewhere.
Now comes the pesky reality of leading his country, including delivering jobs, healthcare and welfare for 320 million Americans. Running USA PLC is akin to running the biggest, most complex and most influential business on the planet. He faces all the same challenges that you do in your business – only on a gigantic, epic scale.
We know challenges for communication in any business large or small can be daunting – and that’s why a purposeful strategy supported by clear communications is so vital. Now President Trump needs a coherent PR strategy that maps out exactly where his Government wants to get with, clear tactical steps for getting there.
What’s more, that communications needs to be tied to his Presidential vision and clear objectives (NOTE – ‘Make America Great Again’ isn’t a measurable objective). All that public relations and communications work has to have a purpose, beyond simply keeping Trump in the public eye.
In terms of messaging the sheer weight of reach and frequency Trump achieved in the election race helped deliver the ultimate outcome – getting him into the Oval Office against staggering odds.
But in terms of PR and communication, that single purpose endeavour pales when compared with the countless outcomes that need to be delivered by a sitting president. And those efforts have to properly analysed and measured.
It might be boring compared with issuing bold promises to build a wall, to scrap climate control measures or to disband NATO and the United Nations – but real strategic communications will trump hollow, gimmicky public relations every time.
Don’t forget to check out the other insightful posts which are part of our Trump Survival Guide, on the PR lessons that savvy businesses can take from the new President
If you want your business PR to be based on strategy rather than gimmicks, please speak with our trusted PR experts
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Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.
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