Donald Trump ignited a firestorm with his “not a war hero” comments directed toward John McCain. While it’s hard to argue that these, along with his previous comments about Mexicans, were anything but distasteful, they also may bring a lot of good.
Love or hate him, “The Donald” always draws a crowd. I would venture to guess that since he entered the presidential race there are more people paying attention to a primary election cycle than ever before.
Politics aside, I have always admired many of Donald Trump’s PR skills. If there is a trending news story even tangentially related to one of his business operations, he is usually right in the middle of it. He makes himself readily available to the media, and they return the favor with ongoing coverage.
This works well in business and political campaigns. Recent research by political scientists showed Donald Trump has garnered 21 percent of the GOP coverage since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015.
It’s true that not all coverage is good coverage, and I would never advise a client to participate in a news story unless they had something to gain. Yet, while not every decision has brought Donald Trump success, many of his riskier PR choices have brought him and those around him great rewards.
Many say that Donald Trump’s presidential bid is just a massive PR stunt. This may or may not be true, but my hope is it will translate into overall greater voter turnout.
Voter turnout dipped from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in the 2008 presidential election to an estimated 57.5 percent in the 2012 election. It dropped again for the 2014 midterm elections to just 36.3 percent, which New York Times identified as the worst voter turnout in 72 years. What’s even more disheartening is that the decline in turnout seems to be most present among low-income people, people of color and youth (18-24 year-olds).
Every good PR professional knows that a contradictory statement will get attention. If it takes an outlandish comment or two from Donald Trump to wake people up and get them engaged in the democratic process, then I say bring it on. We may get our feathers ruffled, but we just may be a better country for it.