Five Media Tips for Donald Trump

U.S. stock markets are at record highs, unemployment is at its lowest in seven years, and consumer confidence hit its peak in nearly 17 years.

All good for Republican Donald Trump, right?

Maybe not. The president has one of the lowest approval ratings of any U.S. commander in chief since Harry S. Truman. Making matters worse for the GOP, the Democratic Party won big in recent state races, perhaps a precursor to next year’s mid-term elections.

Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night watch party in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 23. Credit: Getty Images.

Aside from his own political agenda, many would argue that the problem with the president, well, is the president himself. So much so, that many online daters are telling Trump supporters to swipe left.

In addition to the need of being media trained, here are five simple communications suggestions for President Trump to possibly help boost his approval ratings:

Stop tweeting. No surprise here. While the president’s tweets resonate well with his base, and put him upfront in the daily news cycle, they alienate him from the rest of the country. Mr. Trump needs to expand beyond current supporters, especially if he decides to run for re-election. Since this is unlikely, possibly use an editor to soften the rhetoric, and spell check too. The good news is that he now has 280 characters to do it in.

Be gracious. Humility is not one of the president’s core character traits, at least publicly. Mr. Trump should refrain from “reminding” voters of his election victory or mixing politics with less partisan presidential duties. Remember the Boy Scouts debacle? Also offering a mi culpa from time to time can go a long way and will not diminish any notion of “coming from a place of strength.”

Watch CNN, objectively. Whether or not the president thinks the cable network reports “fake news,” it’s always good to understand how the White House is being covered so that credible, reactive messaging can be developed and implemented. Believe it or not, CNN is far less biased than MSNBC or Fox News.

Do your homework. In other words, be prepared. This will make the president appear more knowledge on key legislative issues such as health care and tax reform. Practice Q&As with key staff on topics relevant to his agenda.

Get a dog. Although it may seem trivial, and not communications related, the president playing catch with man’s best friend on the White House lawn can make for a great photo opportunity. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has broken a long-held tradition of U.S. presidential pet ownership of being the first head of state since President Millard Fillmore to not have domesticated animals.

Only time will tell if the president can turn the tide and become a great communicator like his idol President Ronald Regan. The trick is to get out of his own way, a task easier said than done.

Why Can’t We Stop Talking About Donald Trump?

No time in recent American history has one president been regularly talked about online, in the press or at the proverbial water cooler as much as Donald Trump.

One thing for certain is Donald Trump knows how to make news, which usually is done in 140 characters or less. Policies aside, many factors contribute to this phenomenon, such as Trump’s unorthodox style, recklessness or lack of a media filter.

President Donald Trump during a signing ceremony for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

But all publicity is not good publicity. A recent Harvard Study found that 60 percent of Trump’s media coverage during his first 100 days in office was 80 percent negative, at times hitting the 90 percent mark. Even GOP-friendly Fox News had him at 52 percent negative.

No doubt all this is taking a toll on Trump’s approval ratings. According to FiveThirtyEight, only 37 percent of Americans say President Trump is doing a good job, the lowest of any U.S. commander in chief since Harry S. Truman.

The Pew Research Center finds a majority (58 percent) of Americans do not like the way Trump conducts himself as president, and nearly half (45 percent) do not agree with him on any or almost any issue.

Trump’s conduct also is having a negative impact on his fellow Republications. Forty-six percent of GOPers expressed mixed feelings on Trump’s behavior, while 19 percent say they do not like his conduct.

As support dwindles among those that helped him get elected, President Trump is finding it harder to get key legislation passed even with a Republican-dominated Congress, as several attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fell flat.

Not so says Donald Trump. He boasts his administration has accomplished more than any other president except Franklin Delano Roosevelt, citing his own election as historic, stretching the truth and transparency.

Political pundits have called him a liar, many times. But it’s this behavior that lands Trump on the front pages. Forget about the old ad age of kids saying the darndest things, Donald Trump has made comments as president that go beyond any logical reasoning.

Whether it’s threatening nuclear war with North Korea or blaming Arnold Schwarzenegger for bad ratings on “Celebrity Apprentice,” Trump says and does things – good, bad or indifferent – that makes news and prompts reactions from people.

Unfortunately, that’s bad for Trump … and can be bad for America too.


Is Being Too Polished a Public Speaker Bad?

Some are born with it. Others practice a lot. Establishing a visceral connection with an intended audience is paramount to the success of any public speaker.

Watching the 2016 presidential debates can be good lessons learned when it comes to public speaking in corporate life. A schmorgesborg of styles are hitting the TV airwaves among the candidates of both parties. Some are slow talkers, others quick, and some are just loud.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during a CNN televised Republican debate. Photo credit:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during a CNN televised Republican debate. Photo credit:

So what about being too polished? Could that be a bad thing? We train corporate spokespeople to take command of the issues and the stage. In other words, teach them to come across poised, and yes, polished too. Apparently that is a bad thing, at least when it comes to politics.

It was a surprise to many PR folks that GOP candidate Sen. Marco Rubio was criticized for being too eloquent of a speaker. Some likely voters used the word “robotic” to describe the Florida junior senator. Even the New York Timesacknowledged this trait in a recent op-ed titled, “Marco Rubio Is Robotic, but Not Out of It.” Many other media outlets reported on Rubio’s mechanical demeanor as well.

It’s easy to understand that not having a “connection” with an audience can be detrimental. One example of a flawless presenter is Joel Osteen. Watching the pastor deliver a sermon to the thousands in attendance of his Texas-based Lakewood Church is quite amazing.

It really boils down to authenticity, or in other words, being real. Mostly all communications, especially via social media and video, is about delivering a message that directly speaks to is intended audience. That’s the key to success for so many viral videos and posts.

Effective public speaking—to customers, investors and other corporate audiences—certainly can help business careers. A Harris survey on behalf of cloud-based presentation platform company Prezi reported that 70 percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. Coincidentally, 75% of the presenters surveyed indicated that they would like to improve their presentation skills.

The work never ends, and we all agree that practice makes perfect. For Marco Rubio, he has acknowledged his machinelike nature and plans on being more “real” among likely voters. Ironically, this level of skill may require less rehearsing and more speaking “off the cuff,” which may present its own set of problems.

Come on America, Let’s Vote

President Obama speaking on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

President Obama speaking on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Yesterday’s 50th anniversary commemoration of the historic civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma comes at a time when almost half of all Americans (45 percent) say race relations under President Obama have not changed.

The irony was uncanny as America’s first black president spoke to thousands of revelers at the site where fifty years ago peaceful marchers were beaten with clubs and tear gas by Alabama troopers on their way to the state capitol in Montgomery to demand equal voting rights.

While the president said America has accomplished much regarding civil rights and race relations over the past five decades, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to voter turnout.

“What is our excuse today for not voting?” said the president.  “How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?”

There’s no doubt that the average number of Americans voting is atrocious, although there are signs of improvement.  Voter turnout since a low of 49 percent in 1996 has increased over the last 20 years, with 57 percent of American voters casting ballots in 2008, coincidentally, the year when Obama was first elected to office.

Many Americans have watched recent events unfold on TV and online, whether it’s Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before Congress about U.S.-Iranian relations, to the GOP leadership absent from yesterday’s anniversary march in Selma, to Ferguson, Missouri, which prompted national outrage after a police officer shot and killed a black teenager last summer.

The president is right when he said that America always is evolving.  It’s a place where constituencies with opposite opinions converge to debate the future direction of the country, even though at times it gets messy and lives are lost.

America’s ongoing struggle in its pursuit of freedom and prosperity for its citizens should not be taken in vain.  So we may want to think twice about the power of one vote and how it can change or influence the future direction of a country and its aspirations.

Fringe Candidates Can Generate Publicity, but Not Get Elected

Herman Cain’s presidential run cab be personified by the 1963 hit song “Only in America” by Jay and Americans, especially the verse “… can a kid without a cent get a break and maybe grow up to be president.”

Herman Cain “Smoking”

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and current talk show host and circuit speaker has every right to run for president, despite current allegations of sexual harassment when he headed up the National Restaurant Association.

Before all the recent hoopla around Cain’s alleged sexual improprieties, the Republican presidential candidate was gaining momentum using his own success story as an alternative to other GOP bids for the White House.

His online “smile” and “smoking” ads however created a lot of media attention. It was really the last few seconds of a sinister-like smile that helped the video go viral and began to position Cain as some kind of fringe candidate. Scores of other mock videos were soon posted on the Web poking fun of Cain’s candidacy.

It’s highly doubtful that Cain will receive the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. But America is the land of opportunity. Anything can happen. Heck, in 2008 the U.S. voted Barack Obama as the first African-American president.

Other than race, there are few similarities between Obama and Cain let alone political parties. But America loves the underdog and at times is willing to bypass indiscretions among candidates and elected officials. Whether Cain can weather this political firestorm remains uncertain.

The real issue here is if a fringe candidate can get elected. Does Ralph Nader ring a bell? This well-known consumer advocate has unsuccessfully run for president five times. His celebrity however has helped his career as an author, lecturer and political activist. Not bad, eh? The same goes for Donald Trump who recently dropped his 2012 presidential bid. Even though he was never going to get his party’s nod, Trump used the opportunity to generate media coverage for his own brand and promote his next book, “How to run for President.” Just kidding about the book.

Is media to blame for giving these candidates too much attention? That can be debated either way. Controversy and human interest are key news drivers. Herman Cain’s story has both elements. It’s this scenario that will enable Cain to sell more stuff, but prevent him from winning the presidency.