Did Donald really trump Hillary in the PR war?
Donald Trump is getting the keys to the White House. But how did he get them? Was Trump’s campaign, as Lord Sugar’s former publicist, David Fraser, said in July “poetry in motion” or did Hillary Clinton drop the ball when it came to delivering her messages to the masses during one of the most hotly contested – and let’s be honest one of the most bruising – presidential campaigns in modern history?
We should start with the man with the keys to the White House – and soon-to-be leader of the Free World. Like him or loathe him, you can’t argue that ‘The Donald’ has a proven ability to communicate with large numbers of people. You could call it style over substance, but Trump speaks in definites – “We will make America great again!” No ifs, buts or maybes. In the presidential debates he said Hillary Clinton was “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.” Certainty is an attractive quality to many.
He also attacked Hillary Clinton for husband Bill’s famous infidelity, went after the media for what he thought was their biased approach and he tapped into feverish national feelings on issues of immigration and foreign policy.
Some intelligent people at the University of British Columbia analysed the speech styles and social media activity of Trump and the other nine people who were seeking the Republican nomination recently. They found that the reality star consistently ranked highest in ratings of grandiosity, “I”-statements, informal language, vocal pitch variation, and use of Twitter.
“Trump’s outrageous statements over the course of the campaign led many political pundits to underestimate his chances of success,” said supervising author Delroy L. Paulhus, a personality psychology researcher and professor at the university.
“Contrary to what might be expected, grandiosity, simplistic language and rampant Twitter activity were statistical predictors of success in the Republican primaries.” It seems that that has translated well into the presidential election too. If you’re interested, you can read more about that study here.
Another study in January found that while the reading level of speeches by Hillary Clinton was that of an 8th grade student, Mr Trump speaks at just a 4th grade level.
In an excellent analysis of the two candidates, Katharina Balazs, Associate Professor at ESCP Europe, and executive coach at the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre, wrote: “As far as Trump is concerned, it seems surprising how he can attract so many passionate and determined followers in spite of his confusing messages lacking logic and substance.
“What he does masterfully is to sense group emotions and connect with people’s frustrations and concerns. He provides hope, not facts which can make people blind to his behaviour as a reckless, modern-day Messiah.
“There is a lesson here for leaders of all ranks. Speaking only to people’s heads does not create the passionate commitment as touching their hearts does.” Read more on that one here.