Today I’m breaking my rule to never comment on politics. With that disclosure out of the way, please also realize I’m not endorsing any political party.
Instead, let’s talk about The Donald.
Sure, Mr. Trump has made a splash – leading very early polling among GOP faithful – but is this due to bravado or smart public relations?
In an election that’s going to be more technology savvy than ever – Facebook, for instance, has announced a new array of digital insights to help campaigns zero in on their supporters (and money) – what candidates say will be shared, liked, disliked, dissected, posted and prodded from here until November 2016 and beyond.
And with such a crowded field, each candidate needs to position himself or herself just right to stand out from the pack. Trump has certainly done that. But, I maintain, not to win the nomination but to stroke his own ego.
From comments about immigrants to his mocking of a POW to how his staff is threatening some media with lawsuits for printing the truth, he certainly hasn’t done himself any favors. Or has he? In other words, does he care that he’s getting skewered because he knows his controversial comments are attracting media coverage and name awareness? Is he using a presidential run as a platform for his business – damned the cost?
As a strategist who helps companies and organizations communicate in the face of a crisis, my concern is that he has not back-peddled from his hurtful remarks. Normally I would advise clients who may have said the wrong thing to either apologize or find an opportunity to clarify as a way to rebuild trust, especially, in the case of Hispanics a large voting bloc. But Trump isn’t following this sage advice. Instead – because, perhaps, he’s really not in it for the long haul – he’s blazing his own trail and in the process forcing other candidates to react and pivot.
So in a way it’s smart PR. Just not the type that’s going to win friends or elections. Or even succeed in business.
My advice to the ever-growing field of presidential contenders: Stop the bravado. Drop the baiting. If you mess up, say so. Be yourself. Above all – we can hope – do what’s best for the country, not yourself.
~ Thomas Becher, APR