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.

Wind Chill! What is it?

It’s the first week of 2015 which means it’s cold in Toronto. Watching the news I hear that the temperature is minus 9 degrees Celsius; minus 18 with the wind chill.

So what the hell is the wind chill and why don’t meteorologists and weather folks just give us one number that most accurately reflects what we feel outside?

Here’s what Environment Canada says about wind chill (note that it doesn’t seem to be written by a comms pro):

Canada’s wind chill index is accurate, easy to understand and reflects the needs of Canadians. It is based on research using human volunteers and advanced computer technology, combined with recent medical advances in the understanding of how the body loses heat when exposed to cold. As a result, the wind chill observations and forecasts that you hear are now much more representative of what you actually feel.

The index is expressed in temperature-like units, the format preferred by most Canadians. By equating the outdoor conditions to an equivalent temperature with no wind, the index represents the degree of “chill” that your skin senses. For example, if the wind chill is -20 while the outside temperature is only -10ºC, it means that your face will feel as cold as if it was a calm day (no wind) with a temperature of -20ºC.

I think the above EC information highlights why we’re confused by the wind chill. If it feels like minus 20, why not just say “it’s minus 20, stay warm”? Perhaps because the colder the better, in terms of more of us checking to see how bad it is, and, you know, the increased ad revenue that comes from more viewers.

That said, I used to work at The Weather Network and I know that the meteorologists there were serious about the science of weather and giving Canadians accurate forecasts. I also remember a friend at the time questioning the wind chill factor.  I defended it then, but now I’m not so sure.