Trump’s communication strategy

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Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States and virtually no one really had expected that. The inauguration of Donald Trump as next President of the United States is scheduled to take place on Friday, January 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. While for some Americans, Trump’s victory is a triumphant moment in American history, others consider his win over Hillary Clinton a nightmare for the United States. The way how Trump eliminated the Republican Candidates and Hillary Clinton in the general election, is a topic that will be discussed for quite some time. Just to mention, the Republican field began with 17 candidates, 16 of whom have dropped out. The question I ask myself is: How could that happen? What were the reasons that Donald John Trump won the elections? While many researchers all over the world analyze the reasons why so many were not able to predict this presidential election, I’m more interested in Trump’s communication strategy – a very underrated and underestimated issue.

After years of practice as a reality show host, Donald „The Apprentice“ Trump has figured out how to communicate in a way that everyone will understand. Trump has a long TV and entertainment background and the ability to play the media like a pro. He knows exactly what to say to capture his audience. He instinctively knows how to draw attention. His messages are clear enough and the issues simplified. He offers simple answers to people’s complex concerns so that even people with not much political interest are able to understand his messages.

His style is in sharp contrast to many politicians as they tend to be carefully scripted. Trump’s presidential campaign showed us, how he is able to turn the strength of his opponents into a weakness, with not much concern for political correctness. This works especially with those that feel powerless and disaffected since they are looking for “the hero” that will save them from all the evils in the world. It is important to emphasize that Trump comes from an industry where you have to negotiate permanently and one of the first and most important aspect of negotiation is to understand the people on the other side of the table.

„The Donald“ did not use a teleprompter during his presidential campaign and it appears as Donald says what’s on his mind, a reason why he seems to many Trump supporters as “very real” and “very human” or as some say, it makes him seem like ’someone you could have a beer with‘. It’s obvious that his lack of political experience distinguished him from all the other candidates and put him on a more human level whereby many Americans vote Trump to shake up the establishment. Many Americans viewed Hillary as a Washington insider and people wanted change, even if that meant Donald Trump.

Trump and the Power of Words

Words are a powerful tool and Trump uses them well to explain, what he thinks is wrong with America and to connect with prospective voters. Words shape our perception of the world and trigger emotions. According to University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman, Trump has an especially repetitive communication style. Repetition is one of Trump’s strongest communication strategies. Trump repeats words like Win, Stupid, Weak, Lose, Loser, We, They, Smart, Tough, Dangerous, Bad, Huge or Phrases like „We don’t win anymore“, „We have no strategy to fight our enemies“, „Our allies aren’t paying enough“, „Defense cuts are projecting American weakness“ or „Washington doesn’t work.“ These words have a strong emotional valuation. Repeat them often enough and it burrows into people’s minds. The neural circuitry gets stronger and stronger while people start to believe it because it’s repeated and it becomes part of their understanding. For more just watch the Video below.

Trump is an effective practitioner of persuasive rhetoric. His rhetoric grabs and keeps attention and makes ideas and phrases stick in people’s heads. Donald Trump talks to the part of the brain that actually makes decisions. That part of the brain uses heuristics like repetition, social proof, authority. He speaks the language of his audience and had a clear narrative. Our brain can remember (emotional) stories far better than a string of numbers, so he doesn’t give rationally compelling evidence. He gives emotionally compelling evidence in the form of a story.  Most decisions which are made by people themselves are based on feelings and you can be sure that Donald Trump, a successful salesman and businessman, tested his approaches on focus groups. What I mean is that he is the salesman who is selling his best product: himself. In that sense you can consider him as a marketing and branding genius.

 

 

Sources:

Five Reasons Trump’s Communication Strategy Is Working – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ira-kalb/five-reasons-trumps-commu_b_10188374.html
Do Words Kill? – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bj-gallagher/do-words-kill-is-politica_b_8673510.html
Communication Lessons from Donald Trump – http://www.advisorperspectives.com/articles/2015/09/21/communication-lessons-from-donald-trump
Donald Trump Has Mastered These 5 Psychological Tactics to Get Ahead – https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250379
Communication strategies from Donald Trump – http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Communication_strategies_from_Donald_Trump_20052.aspx
Reasons Donald Trump Won The Election: 21 Factors That Contributed To One Of The Biggest Upsets In Political History – http://www.ibtimes.com/reasons-donald-trump-won-election-21-factors-contributed-one-biggest-upsets-political-2444347
10 Reasons Trump Won – http://listverse.com/2016/11/09/10-reasons-trump-won/
We noticed Donald Trump says a lot of things twice. He says a lot of things twice – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/15/this-video-of-donald-trump-repeating-himself-is-pretty-great-video/
Trump’s Broken Speech Appeals to the Masses – http://www.livescience.com/54035-donald-trump-broken-speech-appeals-to-masses.html
How Donald Trump hypnotized America – http://theweek.com/articles/623396/how-donald-trump-hypnotized-america
Donald Trump May Sound Like A Clown, But He Is A Rhetoric Pro Like Cicero – https://thinkprogress.org/donald-trump-may-sound-like-a-clown-but-he-is-a-rhetoric-pro-like-cicero-ac40fd1cda79#.anebp7m85
Is Donald Trump’s ‘broken speech’ the key to his success? Linguists say strange patterns may make him more ‘authentic, relatable and trustworthy’ – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3495577/Is-Donald-Trump-s-broken-speech-key-success-Linguists-say-strange-patterns-make-authentic-relatable-trustworthy.html
Is Donald Trump So Popular Because of How He Talks? A Linguistics Explainer – http://motherboard.vice.com/read/trump-linguistics2

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