3 communications lessons we can learn from Donald Trump | Milner Strategic Marketing

3 communications lessons we can learn from Donald Trump


Like or loathe him (and there are very few people who sit on the fence – the man is marmite) there’s no denying that the current President of the United States knows how to communicate. I’m not going to talk about Donald Trump’s suitability to lead the country/world – that’s not my area of expertise – but I think he’s provided a few PR and communications lessons we can all learn from.

1) Key Messages

I honestly can’t remember what Hillary’s campaign slogan was, but I know Trump’s was “Make America Great Again”, because he said it almost every time he opened his mouth. And if it wasn’t that it was “America’s going to win” or “we’re going to build a wall”. Much as he was ridiculed in certain circles for these assertions, you can’t argue that he didn’t hammer the message home.

Companies should be similarly single-minded with their key messages. People have very short attention spans, so every time you communicate, you need to tell them once, twice, ten times what you want them to hear. Whether that’s ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’, ‘Think (IBM)’ or ‘Make America Great Again’.

 2) Target Audience

Know your target audience and speak to them. Trump did this – to his credit – admirably. His speeches and messages were simple enough to be understood by a child in primary school and he told those who were fed up of ‘other people coming in and ruining America’ what they wanted to hear. He kept it simple and he got his point across to his audience.

Some companies would do well to bear this particular point in mind – and especially tech companies. I realise your solution solves a number of technical and ecological challenges encountered by companies in the outer-Peruvian market, but your customers (however intelligent) got lost after about the first 5 syllables. So use as few syllables as possible to tell them what you want them to know. ‘Getting you home, fast,’ or ‘taking you where you want to go’ is far easier to understand and take on board than ‘multi-way route navigation systems’, for example.

3) Push and Pull Communication

Hardly a day goes by that Trump doesn’t say something mildly (or completely) outrageous on Twitter and, whether you agree with him or not, he gets plenty of attention for it. He uses it to deflect attention from what he doesn’t want people talking about and attract them to what he wants them to focus on. For example turning people’s attention to Obama’s supposed surveillance of him prior to the election, rather than saying anything about alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election. It is clear no-one is controlling his Twitter feed for him – he speaks directly to his followers and they respond. (Not always positively, but as I said, he is marmite.)

Whilst I cannot advocate that companies be quite so blatant in their social agendas, sticking your head above the parapet on occasion and speaking with YOUR authentic voice will reap social media rewards. Rather than promoting that software product (again) say something relevant. Relevant to your customers, relevant to the news, relevant to what you want people to think of you. Be you, communicate authentically and remember that whilst not everyone will agree with you, that’s not always a problem as long as you are remaining true to yourself and your brand.

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