Trumping Trump: Quality versus Quantity

While the news media take advantage of the lift received from reports about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton needs to determine how best to benefit from a less aggressive communications approach. Trump will say anything he likes to journalists as frequently as he can, while Clinton is more measured with reporters.

So how do you win against a competitor who can rightly or wrongly command the majority of headlines? Especially when it’s hard to convince mainstream media, and just about any other news outlet focused on ad dollars, to not cover the person that more people want to read, watch and hear.

The answer is to use the more measured communications approach to your advantage and to use your competitor’s more aggressive style against him. Additionally, by getting people to challenge how the news media focus on ad dollars at the expense of balanced coverage, the conversation could increasingly become about the problems with mainstream news, featuring Trump as the poster boy.

There’s already coverage in the New York Times about how the “television news industry is wrestling with how to balance fairness, credibility and the temptations of sky-high ratings.” Ongoing negative Trump and mainstream news outlet coverage, showing Clinton as the victim, could influence voters her way and force outlets to be more balanced.

As for using Trump’s aggressive communications against him, foot-in-mouth mistakes will need to be amplified and the upside of all those people tuning in to hear what he might say next is that many of them will be reminded that they don’t like him. Similar to the response to most loud mouths, just because we’re listening, doesn’t mean we like what we hear.

Clinton doesn’t need to be as loud as her Republican opponent, she just needs to be smarter by playing to her strengths, by providing quality over quantity, by seizing on Trump’s blunders and by using the news media’s ad-focused biases to her advantage.

Newspapers: Still Popular

I’m one of the more than 14.7 million Canadians reading newspapers. Many of whom likely didn’t know that the newspaper industry is thriving.

Prior to seeing this Toronto Star story about this surprisingly robust medium, I thought I might be out of touch and wasting time on broadsheets visa vis digital information sources. You see, I enjoy the feel of daily papers and I think there’s a physiological advantage to reading hard copy. I process the offline info differently; I might even retain it better.

That said, I of course get most of my news digitally and have learned to efficiently (mostly) embrace the rich, fragmented, hyperlinked reality of social media. There are, after all, many credible, purely digital news sources, some of them led by talented ex-journalists, who will ensure that online media continues to grow.

However, old media will also continue to thrive because newspapers have far more trained journalists skilled at researching and writing interesting stories. These writers and their papers are trusted. Also, many of these old media companies are effectively embracing the new. The result: even if people aren’t reading offline, they’re paying attention online.

At least that’s what I read on a website.

Globe and Mail Front Page

Looking at the front of today’s Globe and Mail, the day after Canadian female Olympians dominated in bobsleigh and speed skating, I was surprised that Canada’s national newspaper overwhelmingly focused on the big win by the men’s hockey team. Granted, there were above-the-fold pictures of the medal-winning women. However, the big story for the Globe and Mail was Team Canada’s hockey win over Team Russia.

Judging by some of the tweets I’ve seen, the Globe should have focused more on the women. Note that the cover of the Vancouver 2010 section of the paper did focus on our female champs.

These critical tweets got me thinking about what sells papers and marquee Olympic events.

It was great to watch our powerful bobsledders win gold and silver medals; and Clara Hughes may be the nicest, most talented Canadian alive.

However, results of the highly anticipated matchup between the two main hockey powers was the event of the Olympics to date and probably the most-watched Canadian sporting event ever. Sure there’s an argument that a lot of medals trump one quarter-final win. But there are two reasons why men’s Olympic hockey is a priority for the Globe: it sells papers; and many of us with any interest in the Olympics are most interested in the men’s hockey team.

What’s great is that the Canadian Olympic team had its best day yet, sparking a conversation about which of our great athletes should get top recognition.

Go Canada Go!