3 communications lessons learned from Trump’s campaign

Wow. We woke up in a new world this morning. I know that I’m still the same person, and yet everything has changed. Plus, I have this big serving of crow that I need to eat for breakfast.

Trump surprised me. He surprised the media, surprised the pundits, surprised the pollsters and surprised the world as he emerged victorious at the ballot box. How did he do it? How did he cruise under the radar of the mainstream for so long and beat a system that was supposed to be rigged against him?

Listen to your constituents

This 3oonbfundamental communications concept seems to have been lost on many of the establishment candidates this election cycle. Trump heard the disenfranchised voices of Middle America and fed them a steady diet of their own words. Right or wrong, he galvanized a strong base of support that allowed him to speak to undecided voters and sway them to his side. Even at the expense of many minority groups, he was able to ride a wave of public sentiment that led him to the White House.

In contrast, Clinton failed to acknowledge those voices, lumping them together in a basket of deplorables. In doing so, she told half the nation to go away and talk to the hand. Not effective communication.

Stay in the fray


Trump hosted and attended more rallies than any other candidate in recent memory. At certain points in his campaign, he was drawing enormous crowds on an almost daily basis. I think, at least at first, people attended expecting to witness a train wreck, but ended up on the Trump Train. The constant exposure and event atmosphere helped people justify their choice.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems

103880806-6ed1-req-clintonad-081916-600x400Clinton wins on the money front. She managed to raise and spend more money than her opponent. But, what did she gain? This just goes to show the value of earned media. Trump and his campaign surrogates were sought after by every media outlet to give their side of the story, earning them more headlines, more ticker space, more eyeballs, ears, hearts and minds.

Personally, I give full credit to his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Her tenacious messaging and deft interview skills helped position Trump as more than just a viable contender, but the ultimate winner, despite the majority of public opinion polls to the contrary.

What this will mean for America and the world, only time will tell. Best of luck to us all.

photo credit: kennethkonica Despite the weeds still a strong image. via photopin (license)


Published by

Ashley Brown, APR

I have seen and done it all, on large and small scales, including communications planning, event coordination, print production, digital presence management, media relations, and more. Bringing in an outside perspective, with an objective set of eyes to pour over your organization's communications programs is considered best practice and yields actionable results. I gather anecdotal and empirical evidence to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your current communications programs, and make suggestions about how to improve your planning and execution processes, as well as your communications products and materials.

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