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.

Media Trump

This Globe and Mail article by Simon Houpt, which is a good read, asks more questions than it answers about how the media is handling Donald Trump:

“His appeal raises hard questions: about clickbait versus quality journalism, and whether the two are mutually exclusive; about bias and fairness; about polls; about outrage journalism; about the little-examined role that class plays in media; about journalistic integrity; about whether the media – even the media outlets that position themselves as the true voices of real people – are actually in touch with real people.”

Whatever the answers, Trump is using his notoriety to make him money, not to make him president. He knows the media loves bad news and sensationalism, so they will pile on to the next story about the sky falling.

Trump has little chance of getting more than a fringe vote and the GOP won’t think he’s so grand when it’s time to pick a viable contender who can get the votes that Romney couldn’t attract.

Perhaps the Trump benefit is that more people will vote due to the heightened news coverage and awareness. If so, the media can be credited with helping to get out the vote, even if they’re struggling with how to report on Trump.

What Are Politicians Thinking?

Here’s the thought every Canadian politician has considered recently: how can I get voters to love me with the same unwavering commitment they have for Rob Ford? OK, maybe Ford Nation doesn’t actually love the embattled Toronto Mayor, but they certainly are a surprisingly forgiving bunch.

So amid all the self-inflicted scandal that follows Ford, and in light of the hard-to-believe popularity rating he maintains with his core supporters, other politicians have to be asking their strategists: how the hell can I get voters to stick by me no matter what I do?

Well, given the waning respect for elected officials at just about every level due to scandal and politicking that’s seemingly focused on staying in power and not on what’s best for voters – politicians simply need to separate themselves from the so-called political elite by showing why they’re also frustrated by leaders.

Candidates also need to:

  • know the voters who share the same beliefs and connect with them often
  • find the simple insight that transcends your voter base and then stick to that message
  • position yourself as one of your voters so they think you share their hopes and frustrations
  • keep your opponents off balance

Ford makes it look easier than it is to stand out from the pack of political leaders. But if he can do it, so can others.