UnPRecedented candidacy

      16 Comments on UnPRecedented candidacy
(graphic from us-news.us)

(graphic from us-news.us)

All summer long I’ve avoided posting anything about Donald Trump. Like many, I haven’t taken his candidacy for president seriously. Ignoring him has been difficult, given how the news and entertainment media have been somewhat obsessed with every word the billionaire utters.

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. Could you name most of the other 17 running? I couldn’t.

Conversely, the Donald Trump Show has worked to Hillary Clinton’s advantage. While we don’t know how serious the investigation of her email will become, without Trump, Hillary’s issues would be receiving far more attention.  It’s attention she doesn’t want; she’s still the front-runner and she’ll need far more positive coverage to stay ahead. As public relations students and practitioners understand, grabbing an audience’s attention and making positive impressions is crucial to success whether for a candidate, product or cause.

When I teach PR history, I talk about P.T. Barnum, the shameless 19th century promoter of his circus. The National Review’s John Fund recently wrote, “(Trump) is the P.T. Barnum of American politics, a brilliant self-promoter who knows exactly what he’s doing and who changes his opinions constantly to match what he thinks audiences want to hear, much as Barnum used to switch out circus acts between towns on his tour.” Now Trump is out-Barnum-ing Barnum; as a presidential candidate, his domination of the news so early in the race is unprecedented.

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. Your thoughts?

16 thoughts on “UnPRecedented candidacy

  1. Mallory Marin

    As an upcoming millennial voter, I have never cared for politics. I trusted the majority of opinionated Americans because, why should I care? Like many young people, I wasn’t particularly preoccupied with issues relating to the fate of our country because I had been too young to vote anyways. Now that I am in my mid-twenties, I have become more active in the political sphere; mostly because I know that who we elect for President next term is crucial to my generation’s adulthood, and the well-being of our future generations. But what REALLY made me pay attention this time around was none other than Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. As everyone knows, he floods the news channels, newspapers, and social media with ridiculous, racist, and sexist commentary that no one can ignore. With the discovery of his campaign and political stances, my first thought was, “If he is elected President, I am leaving this country.” Although it is sad that other Republican candidates are not able to share their newer more “personable” agendas, the fact that Trump has dominated the Republican side has opened the eyes of many millennials to the real consequences that can happen if we do not take a stand and vote next year. Without Trump’s obnoxious statements, I might have never opened my eyes to a candidate who, in my opinion, has the potential to save our country. That candidate is Bernie Sanders. I have donated money, watched all of his speeches, and even began campaigning for Bernie all within one month. Since I am so determined to not have Trump as our President, I am even more driven to support Bernie. In addition, I believe that Trump’s domination of multiple different media platforms will only hurt himself in the long-run. Although he has gained a lot of publicity, he has gained equally as much negative attention. Our nation has been progressive in terms of civil rights acts, including the legalization of gay marriage and the “All Lives Matter” movement. With a new generation of open-minded teens and young adults, it is going to be almost impossible to win over such a large audiences with proposals like “Deporting 11 million immigrants” and comments like, “She must have been bleeding from her whatever.” While we are all waiting for him to announce that his running was just a big joke, he has given the American people who are outraged by his stances time to look further into any and every other candidate. Eventually, his tactics are going to run dry; as it gets closer to Election Day in fall 2016, the American public will no longer be entertained by his ludicrousness. Instead, they will worry about the future of our nation.

  2. Maddi Roman

    It is a shame that their is so much attention and time being wasted on Donald Trump. It is especially concerning to me that he has a good amount of followers. It is not surprising that the media is focusing on Trump and his ridiculous antics. The attention he is receiving is literally trumping the other candidates. Many of the sentences that have come out of this mans mouth have shocked me. If we continue to focus our attention on him we will be working against ourselves as a nation. This is not television, nor is it a game.

  3. Dan Hanson

    In a way, Trump is sort of a genius but at the same time is making dangerous moves when he shares his “thoughts.” If you are dealing with a demographic who doesn’t really follow politics all that often and he changes his mind and says what they believe, there’s a chance that he’ll end up getting votes from them. At the same time, if he is all of a sudden changing his views on immigration, a lot of GOP members are going to vote for somebody else in the primaries. It’s all a circus act (no pun intended regarding P.T. Barnum) in that he will either give the people what they want or he’ll infuriate a crowd and send everyone home angry. It’s not easy for the other candidates because they have to deal with him bellowing out what he has to say by their sides. It’s going to be an interesting election, indeed.

  4. Tara

    The 2016 presidential election will be the first presidential election I can legally participate in. This encouraged me to try to keep up with the different campaigns, however Trump has completely deterred me from watching or reading about the election. Like most, I view his candidacy as a joke, but what frightens me most is the people that are actually in support of him, even after he made clear racist and sexist statements. I feel like everything he does is just to put on a show and I dislike how the media is giving him so much attention. Do we really want a reality television star running the country? I agree that it is unfair to the other candidates, who might actually be decent human beings.

  5. lpardee1

    Lauren Pardee
    PR 100
    Class Assignment 9.8.15

    In your blog post you state the following,
    “I talk about P.T. Barnum, the shameless 19th century promoter of his circus. The National Review’s John Fund recently wrote, “(Trump) is the P.T. Barnum of American politics, a brilliant self-promoter who knows exactly what he’s doing and who changes his opinions constantly to match what he thinks audiences want to hear, much as Barnum used to switch out circus acts between towns on his tour.” Now Trump is out-Barnum-ing Barnum; as a presidential candidate, his domination of the news so early in the race is unprecedented.”
    I agree that Donald Trump is notorious for is self branding and his success finically and socially is only two of the obvious outcomes from his ability to turn himself into a money making machine, but when it comes to things he has said over the summer to grab the attention of our country, is he getting lucky? I say this because in several debates in which he has gotten himself into trouble due to insensitive and offensive comments, he seems to make certain comments without thinking at all. For example, when he made comments towards Megyn Kelly, it didn’t seem to be premeditated but it brought him an incredible amount of publicity. Is this man going to keep saying absurd, negative things yet keep rising in the polls?

  6. Sarah

    I completely agree with this article. I am not one to always keep up to date with the candidacy for president, but I usually know the candidates for both parties. This election is different. I hardly know any candidates running in this election either. It’s such a shame how Trump wants to have total control of everything. This is a race and it should be a fair win. I loved how you compared Trump to P.T. Barnum. I found it very interesting yet on point because yes, Trump knows what he is doing to promote himself but it is in a very selfish, dominating way. I can’t wait to see where this election goes. Trump will run this country like a business which is good since we have financial problems but, do you want a president with very little political background? Its time for a change but we can’t jeopardize the power and safety of our country.

  7. Pakelody

    Before Donald Trump’s presidency erupted on every media platform, I had thought that some of the other Republican candidates’ opinions, ideas, and overall characters were ridiculous. Now that Trump, with his P.T. Barnum-esque performance, has become maybe the most recognizable candidate, those lesser-known runners have almost become sane in my mind. From what I’ve seen so far, Trump’s “brash and careless comments” appeal to those who wish they could say the outrageous things Trump says out loud. The appreciation for a public, ridiculous taboo statement by a man with power often overrides the fact that there’s a reason why ordinary people don’t say the same things Trump says.

  8. Sara Fox

    I am discouraged by the nation’s preoccupation with Donald Trump, especially concerning something as serious as our presidential election. Just as we give the Kardashian clan too much attention for being rich, famous, and ignorant, we are doing the same with Trump. And just as the Kardasians are a distraction from real world issues, Trump is a distraction from the 2015 election. It is true that because he is so loud in the media, we are unable to hear what any of the other candidates have to say. In turn, we are not truly focusing on the country’s issues but instead on what Trump has to say next. My genuine hope is that the US would not vote in someone so blatantly rude, inconsiderate and foolish based on his outlandish and entertaining way of getting the public’s attention.

  9. kassaramcelroy

    The comparison to P.T. Barnum is very interesting. Trump can certainly be known for shocking audiences, self-promoting, and putting on a show. I believe the American public is entertaining the thought of Trump’s Presidential campaign because they like the idea of a dramatic shift from the average politician. Trump represents a confident, economic pioneer who is willing to enforce postive change in a less political manner. He is not afraid to blast his competitors flaws and focuses on issues that tend to be overlooked (i.e. immigration, infrastructure, etc). However, his extreme comments and ideas are not always rational, and a turn-off to a majority of voters. It will be interesting to see where Donald Trump’s candidacy will lead.

  10. audrathorsen

    When you say “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”, could not be more accurate. The only reason I know of some of the other republican candidates is because of my parents. Trump is all anyone is talking about. Unfortunately, people love to watch people like Trump because everyone is waiting for the next outrageous comment he’ll make, or the next way he’ll get back at someone in a petulant manor. People love to gossip and like you said, he is a showman. It’s fun to talk about how ridiculous this man goes about everything he does in life. However, I do disagree when you say, “P.T. Barnum of American politics, a brilliant self-promoter who knows exactly what he’s doing and who changes his opinions constantly to match what he thinks audiences want to hear”. Though that may be true with P.T, Barnum, I’m not sure if Trump is trying to please his audience depending on who he is talking to. In today’s world, he had to know his comments made towards Mexicans, women and Megan Kelly would get incredibly negative feedback. I truthfully think Trump would be horrible for our country. He burns bridges left and right with his offensive comments and truthfully I think regarding foreign affairs, his blunt demeanor would offend many foreign leaders, and subsequently cause problems for our country. In the recent republican debate, the only topic he ever spoke about was money. Money is everything to him and I don’t think he would know how to be our next commander in chief or how to deal with war/foreign affairs. I pray that America wises up and sees through his big ego that uses his money as his defense weapon with everything. We need someone to protect us from not only economic issues but foreign affairs, and I do not think trump would be the man for the job. I also believe he would worsen the racial divide that have grown more and more the past year, as seen in Ferguson, MO, the backlash against police and Baltimore, MD. Luckily, a lot of Trumps showmanship is starting to wear thin on the American public as evidenced by the rise in the polls by non Washington outsiders like Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

  11. Jack

    I honestly am not in the least bit surprised that Donald Trump has gotten tons of media attention since he’s announced that he was running for president. However, despite the amount of attention that Trump is getting, I feel like he and his campaign are going to eventually crash and burn. At the moment, I feel like the reason Trump is doing so well is because of his “shock value.” Trump’s unapologetic nature may be the reason he stands out compared to the rest of the candidates in the Republican Party, but at the same time, he’s still a laughing stock to a good majority of the population. He’s extremely inconsistent in his viewpoints and has on many occasions contradicted himself. Overall, I don’t think Trump is ready to run the country, nor is the country ready to handle a president like Donald Trump. However, I guess we will all see how the election, as well as Trump’s campaign, will unfold.

  12. Pingback: A Trump triumph? | Michael Castanon's Blog

  13. jheiden1

    I’m equally as frustrated with all the media attention Trump has been getting these past few weeks. It’s hard to take a candidate like him seriously with all his faux pas and blunders on record. He just isn’t a man I would ever feel comfortable running this country. I hope somehow the other candidates can break through and create their own media attention.

    I’m hoping faith in humanity will be restored and Donald Trump will be the one left bleeding out of his “wherever.”

  14. joebarone28

    I am a bit indifferent on this entire saga revolving around Donald Trump. On one side, I thought that Trump’s brash ego and business mind is what this country needed to get back to what it used to be; a superpower nation that shouldn’t be reckoned with, containing a booming economy. But on another side, the more comments that Donald Trump makes, digs a deeper hole for him that some people love and many others do not. In today’s society, people are very sensitive in regards to comments and opinons. So I’m not suprised that Trump is a Republican candidate that is either loved or hated. There is no in-between. Personally, I like Trump and his attitude, but I also feel that there are better conservative candidates running in the election that are not getting as much attention as they should.

  15. Kara

    Through this “Summer of Trump”, I began to engage in the political discussion more than in the past years’ elections. Maybe it is because I’m finally the age where my opinion matters and I can begin to be heard, or maybe this race has just struck a soft spot or two. For one, I am a big advocate for women’s rights so to hear that Hillary Clinton was in the running and had a real chance at office grabbed my attention fairly quickly. Then when Trump announced his plan to run for president, the little “Apprentice” fan inside of me was excited to see how long he would even last in the race. Unfortunately, the rest of America was just as curious as I was. In the beginning, I took Trump’s race to the republican ticket as a joke, similar to the “Deez Nuts” candidate that was taken out of the polls soon after he entered the race when it was discovered that he was actually a 15 year-old boy from Iowa. However, much to the dismay of the people who wish the best for America’s future and respect the nation our ancestors have worked so hard to build, our government is about to turn itself into one giant joke of a reality TV show.
    The comparison between Trump and P.T. Barnum is a brilliant association. The similarities between the two men are outrageous, as they both go the distance to win over the attention of the public. In 1965, William F. Buckley Jr. ran for the position of the Mayor of New York. When a reporter asked Buckley what his first move would be if elected, he responded with “Demand a recount.” This is how I pictured Donald Trump’s election playing out, however, as he gains more and more momentum and support, I become fearful that America is filled with P.T. Barnums, thirsty for the taste of the public’s attention, craving that front page, desperate for a new direction, as we’ve never had a showman in the White House.


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