If the result of the Presidential election achieved nothing else, it illustrated the power and influence PR has on the world stage.
Donald Trump’s use of his social channels and its subsequent influence on the electorate and media was an important contributing factor to his success. Whilst social media amplified Trump’s ideas, it also recruited voters and prompted discussion around his policies, which was not only powerful, it was highly cost effective in a campaign that ran into a reported $795 million.
Notably, Jeb Bush spent more than $80 million dollars on media advertising during the Republican primaries, dwarfing Trump’s $10 million, however, the New York Times reported that Trump gained an estimated $2 billion in free media coverage. His speeches, for better or worse, were brutally candid, resulting in an unprecedented amount of column inches in traditional media debate, meanwhile, his online presence was unlike anything previously witnessed.
Like it or not, this is where Trump and his team deserve commendation. Not only did they boost political engagement and shed light on underlying tensions within American society, their implementation of social media as a political tool was ground-breaking. Twitter, for example, has typically been used politically to push campaign messaging rather than for engagement. Trump harnessed the power of both landing messaging and engaging with his audiences, by instigating and reacting to the news with his own unabashed, unfiltered opinion.
It was this consistently brash, uncompromising attitude that created worldwide headlines and endeared Trump to the sort of voters for whom political correctness had been a cause of alienation. By being steady in this approach Trump was positioned as if not honest, then certainly transparent; with his outlandish, inappropriate and spontaneous content gaining him notoriety. Conversely Clinton’s carefully managed posts were felt to compounded feelings of secrecy and distrust.
Alongside the rise of ‘personality politics’ has been the higher rise of political PR; charisma and image almost equate with policy for many voters. The balance of PR’s role is tricky, the presence of a public relations team can promote disenchantment amongst the electorate, despite being employed to do the opposite. That said, an invisible PR vehicle is still one of the most important facets of a political campaign and, whether you agree with the outcome or not, this is where the new President and his team came up Trumps!