Donald Trump’s PR Strategy: So Bad It’s Good

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity” seems to be Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Although Trump’s PR strategy is not how most traditional PR professionals would handle a client or event, he has some surprisingly successful PR tactics to attract free publicity and get his ideas out there. Trump’s blunt nature, celebrity status and reckless disregard of respect toward his opponents are a huge part of his appeal to the public and could explain his astonishingly high poll numbers.

Recent CNN/ORC polls in South Carolina and Nevada show Trump with growing leads in both states. He leads Ben Carson 38 percent to 22 percent in Nevada and 36 percent to 18 percent in South Carolina (Inquistir). One reason Trump is building a lead across key states is his unapologetically honest remarks. Because he is not a politician, he doesn’t use confusing political jargon. His ability to reach the voters is partially due to his use of “normal” people terms.

Another reason he has been such a popular candidate is his celebrity status. In a society that worships TV celebrities like the Kardashians, Donald Trump fits right into the mold of a scandalous, candid celebrity who is always the aggressor of some spectacle. Unlike the advice PR professionals religiously give to their clients, Trump continually badmouths his opponents and repeatedly tarnishes his already bad reputation. Lucky for Trump, his clean image is the last thing he cares about and his crass insults and attacks on other candidates work for him, attracting more television coverage and increasing poll numbers.

Thanks to his exhibitionism, Trump has earned the most television coverage among all candidates. According to CNN, Donald Trump has received more attention on the nightly news than his 16 rivals combined. An analysis for CNN’s “Reliable Sources” showed that Trump’s coverage totaled 36 minutes and 30 seconds on nightly newscasts such as NBC, ABC and CBS. The next-closest candidate was Jeb Bush with nine minutes and 22 seconds of coverage. (CNN) No one has ever benefited more from being hated than Donald Trump. Public disdain has garnered him so much national attention that he hasn’t needed to spend a dime on publicity while other candidates spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Many of Trump’s PR strategies are off the book and completely the opposite of what all PR professionals advise their clients. Lucky for Trump and not so lucky for the American people, his lack of political proficiency and public relations judgment actually seem to be helping Trump in the short term, but only time will tell if these tactics are impressive enough to win an election.

This blog post was written by Amanda Perrucci. She is in the media relations department in Capstone Agency.