- Claire Celsi is a communications consultant in West Des Moines, Iowa.
I've conducted media training sessions for clients for years. From nonprofits, to educational institutions to businesses, there are some PR constants that remain fixed no matter what. Tell the truth, be prepared, never insult people. Trump has destroyed these rules in his gold-plated shredder and adopted his own personal style in this campaign. There are several well-known PR platitudes that people spout when referring to publicity.
I've seen Trump turn this conventional wisdom on its head. Perhaps you've heard of some of these rules.
- "There's no such thing as bad PR": This commonly-used platitude is actually quite false on its own, but Trump has taken it to a new level. His bombast on subjects like immigration have shined a bright light on his bigotry. Since his outrageous comments were recorded for posterity, chances are his views will bite him in the culata during the primaries.
- "Tell the truth": Surveys have indicated that people like Trump because he "tells the truth" about things that the other candidates are afraid to vocalize. This would probably be refreshing, but he also says things that are flatly false on a regular basis. If people like him for being bold - that is awesome. But liking him for making up stuff is a completely different story. I ran across this quote recently and it's my new mantra for this campaign. "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."
- "Rise above the fray": Trump is the head of a large organization, and didn't get there by poking people in the eye. Since announcing his candidacy, he's much more interested in retaliation against those who criticize him than he should be. He's just calling attention to some of his most vile behavior, like name-calling.
- "Don't take the bait:" Until Trump's entry in the race, the only candidate who showed this flaw was Chris Christy, who can't resist telling hecklers to sit down and shut up. Much to Christy's relief, Trump has taken over in this area. He never misses an opportunity to insult, belittle or embarrass a rival - or even a complete stranger. My dad would diagnose this phenomena as "diarrhea of the mouth."
- "Credibility is key": Trump's credentials as a "business leader" seem to unduly impress a lot of people. Nevermind that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and was busy rollerskating at Studio 54 while John McCain was in the Hanoi Hilton. And his flip-flops on some key conservative issues will surely get more scrutiny as the race gets more serious. All that old footage of him saying he is pro-choice, supporting gun control and praising Hillary Clinton will definitely hold him back.
Trump's got some serious PR counsel on board - Hope Hicks - PR royalty from a swanky firm. She has wisely deleted all her social media accounts. And I'm sure she's tried to tame the Donald. But the Donald will do what the Donald wants to do. Rules be damned. Perhaps she can convince him to get a new hairdo.
Claire Celsi is a communications consultant in West Des Moines, Iowa.