Here we are in August and there’s less than three months to go before the presidential election. After a horrible couple of weeks of ongoing verbal jousting, outrageous comments and misinformed statements, Donald Trump has started to rapidly sink in the polls, with one having Hillary Clinton ahead nationally by 15 points.
I have purposely avoided making any predictions regarding this election, especially since I was among the many who believed that America would never elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama to the presidency. Almost a year ago, I wrote an observational post about Donald Trump called, “An unPRecedented candidacy” in which I noted, “There are PR lessons to be learned here, both good and bad, as the Summer of Trump is sure to be found in case studies textbooks someday. I wonder what the final chapter will look like.”
I still wonder. In another blog post during the primary season I said, “I feel badly for the other Republican candidates. I’ve blogged about the GOP’s efforts to re-brand the party and how it was reaching out to women, young people and Spanish-speaking voters. Trump has effectively undermined this agenda with his brash and careless comments. And the unprecedented 17 other Republicans running have been unable to effectively get their message out because Trump is literally sucking up all the air. He has become a ratings winner, so media programmers are devoting more time to him than all other candidates combined.”
Trump not only sucked up all the air; he emerged as the Republican candidate for president of the United States. There were thoughts he would shift gears and become more “presidential” in his tone. This turned out to be wishful thinking. The opposition worried that nothing he would say or do would ignite the public’s anger and sink his candidacy.
However, the cumulative public relations effect of Trump’s racist, sexist, narcissistic comments are now doing the job. He seems incapable of acting differently, or even nearly “presidential.” I’d like to predict we’re seeing the end of Trump’s flirtation with the White House. But I’m not making any predictions. Your thoughts?
I’m proud to say that this is the 100th “Public Relations Nation” and I haven’t missed a Sunday post since it launched. A wide array of topics have been observed and dissected by my readers and I; we’ve tackled PR issues from Trump to Twitter; from Ivy Lee to Frank Luntz; from good grammar to bad judgement; from Apple’s successful branding to LIPA’s communications debacle. The 350-word blog has been viewed 12,000 times since February 2011, and has garnered 1,200 comments from 340 committed, weekly followers and others. We’ve tackled public relations issues large and small, from how we teach PR in the classroom to how PR decisions are made in the board room.
Admittedly, much of the online commentary to “Public Relations Nations” comes from my students at Hofstra University, where I often more than suggest that they read the blog and participate in the discussion. It’s been wonderful to watch their often measured, sometimes emotional reactions to my challenge of “Your thoughts?” at each post’s end. It’s also been cool to get reactions from far away, including a nice review of this blog from a Florida communications student, to an email from a guy in Washington State suggesting that I craft a PR strategy for gun control.
On which topics the next 100 blogs will focus? Will President Obama become a great communicator? (We suggested he is not). Will corporations and public figures stop repeating the same PR mistakes others have made? (I highly doubt it). Will students finally learn the difference between it’s and its? (For heaven’s sake, get it right!).
I look forward to the next hundred posts and your participation within them. With my dog Toby at my side and the help of my wife Tema (who proofs and edits), I write them first as an education tool for my student and second as a place for a PR dialogue among fellow professionals. I hope my blog improves in content and style in 2013. Your suggestions are more than welcome.
I wish you a happy, healthy and excellent PR New Year! Your thoughts?
Republican Congressman Todd Akin, speaking on pregnancies resulting from rape, said earlier this month, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” The Romney campaign reacted with a statement: “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement.” Last week, Richard Mourdock, an Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate said, “I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Governor Romney’s spokesperson wrote: “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” but continued support of Mourdock’s candidacy.
This week on CNN, former New Hampshire Governor and Romney operative John Sununu commented on Gen. Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama. “Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama…I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.” A Romney spokeswoman said Sununu’s comment “did not reflect the views of the campaign.” Also this week, former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin wrote, “We deserve answers to this (attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya). President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.” Conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted after Monday’s debate that she approved of “Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” And…Donald Trump offered the president $5 million for any charity (specifically citing inner city children in Chicago) if he would release his college transcripts. There was no comment from Romney on the Palin, Coulter and Trump remarks.
Some say this series of slips and slurs reflect a hopelessly backward, racially prejudiced and out of touch GOP. But it may be unfair to assume that all this buffoonery will result in collateral damage to the top of the ticket. What we should really note is Romney’s responses. He has chosen either tepid reactions to these outrageous points of view or silence. If I headed the campaign’s PR efforts, Romney would take a principled stand and denounce–under the strongest possible terms–what was said by these individuals.
But all was not negative this past week; Romney did get endorsements from the New York Post and Meat Loaf. And he is running neck-in-neck with the president with a few days left in the campaign. Your thoughts?
The 2011 version of P.T. Barnum, Donald Trump has become the nation’s–to use President Obama’s words–“carnival barker.” P.T. Barnum (photo, top right), you’ll remember, was the shameless 19th century promoter of many things odd and spectacular. Many of his claims and circus curiosities were untrue but people paid to see them, hence his oft-quoted theory: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Trump (photo, bottom left), always the bloviating showman, is using the coming presidential election as his new soapbox, choosing the “birther” issue to get tons of media coverage. His insistence that Mr. Obama prove (again) his U.S. birth inevitably worked; the president released a “long form” version of his birth certificate in an attempt to end the “distraction” this long, silly discussion has created.
But many say the issue for birthers is not really Barack Obama’s birthplace. Some believe it’s racism, pure and simple. The birthers won’t say it out loud or on camera, but it pains them to see a left-leaning, personally popular black man in the White House.
I, for one, don’t believe that Donald Trump is a racist. In fact, I don’t think he really believed that Obama may not have been born here. Trump lives to promote Trump and uses plenty of exaggerations and untruths to do so. He claims his TV show is NBC’s top-rated program; it’s not–it’s “The Office.” A few years ago he said he was worth $3.6 billion; his bank said he was worth $688 million. He says he’s a Republican, yet he’s given more money to Democratic candidates than to Republicans. Yes, like P.T. Barnum before him, Donald Trump promotes Donald Trump very well. I predict he’s not serious about running for president…I believe he’s using this moment to get headlines. Next to money, it’s what The Donald craves most. Your thoughts?