3 PR Lessons (For Better or Worse) From Donald Trump’s Campaign

If you’re like me, the best news about this election season is that it’s finally over. Donald Trump became the next president-elect in a race most news outlets believed heavily favored Hillary Clinton. And no matter how you felt about either candidate, data from the Pew Research Center proves this was the one of the most divisive presidential races. Millions of Clinton’s supporters woke up Wednesday morning in despair. And, had the results had been in her favor, the same feelings would’ve been true of Trump supporters.

But for just a brief moment, let’s take a look at these election campaigns objectively. Trump’s campaign often gets dismissed for the attitudes it fostered towards minorities and women, but a closer look reveals that his campaign strategy was stronger than Clinton’s. Here’s why he was able to be successful:

  1. Inspiring change (for better or worse)—When Americans look to elect new leaders into office, they’re counting on those leaders to change the way things have been done. The idea of change is what led voters to elect President Barack Obama to two terms, and it’s Trump’s form of change that resonated especially well with white men and women without college degrees, who longed for the days of high-paying manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, instead of promising her own form of change, Clinton’s campaign was too reliant on continuing the successes of Obama’s administration.
  2. Authenticity (for better or worse)—If you were looking for a candidate who was always politically correct, Trump was definitely not for you. From his rhetoric in the debates and on the campaign trail, to his 5 a.m. Twitter rants about sex tapes, Trump had no filter when expressing his thoughts. On the other hand, Clinton was widely accused of being “calculated” and inaunthentic. Her campaign speeches addressed progressive issues, while her leaked emails revealed a different story. Because of this, Pew discovered only 33 percent of voters viewed her as honest compared to 63 percent for Obama in 2008.
  3. Branding (for better or worse)—The most memorable campaign slogans have taglines that resonate with both supporters and their opponents. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” was both a source of inspiration and a punchline of ridicule for voters this election season; but either way, you talked about it. As for the Clinton campaign, they relied on two slogans: “I’m With Her” and “Stronger Together.” As TBWA/Chiat/Day NY CEO Rob Schwartz notes in a recent PR Week article, “if you look at ‘I’m With Her,’ it was about the candidate, and ‘Stronger Together’ was really about the party.” Ultimately, what made “Make America Great Again” so successful was that it spoke directly to the people.

Overall, supporters of Trump saw what some skeptics of Clinton realized: she represented the status quo of a nation that they believed ultimately left them behind. It’s also worth noting, even Trump’s authenticity has been questioned as some people don’t believe he stands by his disparaging remarks about women and minorities. Regardless, while Trump’s election victory has left the country divided, there are still lessons to be learned from his campaign—for better or worse.

Life Lessons Learned from Video Games

I used to have a friend during my college days named Michael Stille; everyone called him White Mike though. White Mike was my freshman year roommate and one of the coolest people you could meet.  The more you knew him, the more you thought, “man, this boy is ghetto!” Looking back at it, I could see why Northwood paired us as roommates: we were both low-key guys who were somewhat selfish mama’s boys that just so happened to major in sports management.

Michael Stille: March 11, 1989 - September 29, 2011.

White Mike was an absolute pain to play video games with!  Whether it was Madden, NBA Live, or Fight Night, he always gave me (and mostly everyone else he played on campus) the business.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I beat him in anything.  What would be more shocking is the margin of victory he had over me; I really think it exceeds the number on my paycheck I hope to get this Friday.  And it wasn’t like Mike would ever ease up.  You could be losing by several touchdowns, and he’d go all Bill Bellicheck on you and run up the score until the clock ran out.  I would shake my head in frustrution and leave his place thinking, “jerk!”

Judging from my previous posts, you could probably tell I really don’t like losing.  White Mike’s video game beatings had a way of humbling me.  Whatever confidence and skill I may’ve thought I had when I started was usually diminished by the time I finished playing him.  White Mike humbled me in another way recently (and unintentionally).  On September 29, he died in a car accident along with his sister’s fiance.  So unfortunate, because things were starting to pick up for him.  He was due to see his sister get married two days later, just interviewed for an internship, worked an Indianapolis Colts game, and even had him a girlfriend (you go Mikey!!!).  And yet, a freak accident took that all away.

In my last post (which seemed years ago), I talk about avoiding a sense of entitlement.  The best way you can do this is the same way White Mike beat me down in video games – staying humble.  Humility is a tricky concept to master.  Sometimes it’s confused with low self-esteem or putting yourself down.  Although to be humble is to lower yourself in importance, humility is not the absence of confidence.  Rather, humility diminishes our egos (which can also be an acronym for “edging God out) and allows us to keep an open mind.

You want to know what lead me to start abrothanamedCed?  Most of it stems from a humbling experience that came in the summer of 2009.  It was the summer going into my junior year and I had nothing going for me.  So, I thought to apply for this new government-funded Summer Youth Employment Program.  The first day I try to apply, I find that I don’t have the proper financial information; so they tell me to come back during Saturday.  I get to the office around 7:30 in the morning to see a line of what seemed like thousands of teens and young adults waiting for the process to begin.  I could go on for days about how unorganized the registration staff and process were!  I even saw a kid from Northwood working for registration.  That’s when my frustration turned into embarrassement.  There I was, standing in hours worth of lines, halfway finished with college, a nice GPA and a decent resume, with kids as old or older than me, who haven’t worked a legal job in their lives and some who didn’t even graduate high school.  The process took five hours, and I still had to catch the bus home from the southwest side.  But for all that unorganized chaos, I never got a call telling me to report to a job site.  Nothing.  Nada. Zero.  Just another boring wasted summer in the D.  That’s what I started to realize that I never want to feel so “not in-control” of my destiny again.

When I look back, I needed that summer to happen to me.  I had gotten too comfortable with my own skills and felt so content with my skills that I knew that someone out there would bend over backwords to hire me.  Having a friend like White Mike was something else I needed.  When you live long enough and surround yourself with new people, you’ll live to realize that someone, somewhere, is always better (or working to be better than) you.  And that, is what makes us humble – lowering your own self-importance and gaining respect and admiration for those who compete on the same, or grander scale, than you.  Memories of White Mike in his casket will always humble me, as well as the video game butt-kickings.  I hope that you too, will use your moments of humility to overcome your sense of entitlement.

No Rights? No Problem!

How many of you have ever given your all to something? Maybe it was a big corporate project that you hoped would get you that big promotion. Maybe it was toward your schoolwork.  Heck, you may’ve even given your all to a “special someone”.  So, if you’re anything like me, I bet it hurts you to your core when all your time and effort fails to reap your desired results.  In fact, I bet it’s even worse when your end result is on the exact opposite side of your desire spectrum; something like the large talent difference between MC Talib Kweli and rapper (although I consider him a gimmick) Soulja Boy.

You've got to do to your rights what the music industry needs to do with this clown....."YAAHHH, TRICK, YAHHH!!!"

One of the most memorable sermons I’ve been in attendance for occurred a few summers ago.  I took notes on it, but can’t remember the scripture the sermon came from (maybe if I cleaned off my computer desk filled with old receipts and other useless paper I could find something).  Regardless, the pastor talked about the one thing keeping us from receiving blessings and experiencing joy: the mindset that we have rights.  And the thought from that message that still sticks with me to this day: the minute we let go of our rights is when we’ll begin to receive our blessings.

Don’t think I’m trying to preach to the congregation on this one! Believe it or not, this message can reached out to believers and non-believers alike.  You see, we’re not talking about giving up your constitutional rights (of whatever country you hail from).  We’re talking about rights in the sense of entitlement, for it is the mindset of entitlement that keeps us narrow in our thinking.  And when we’re narrow in our thinking, our opportunities become as limited as an illiterate person in a bookstore.

Allow me to reminisce on one of my previous relationships.  For those of you who know me personally, this isn’t about “you-know-who”, but about my longest relationship to this day.  Although it was a long-distance thing, and it was on-and-off, the early years of my relationship were pretty much smooth sailing.  We were content with each other because we were all that we needed to make it through the day.  When we finally got to see each other for the first time, it made us even more sure about where we were going.  I don’t know about “love at first sight” or all those other silly terms people use to describe love, but for the first time I believed I had a “sure thing.”  Sadly, after that week things starting heading downhill, and by late November I found myself alone, knowing there was an almost certain chance that it was going to be this way for me for a while.  A lot of things happened for me to end up that point and we both know the blame is shared equally (even though when it gets argued about, we always make it seem like it was ALL their fault…funny how that always works).  It sucks to admit that I started approaching our relationship with a sense of entitlement.  In my case, I started becoming verbally abusive and being more negative than usual among other things.  I felt I could get away with these things because after all the hard work I put towards making this work I never saw her leaving me as an option.  There’s other factors that led to the end of this, but I can’t help to think what could’ve happened if things didn’t change after that week we met.  I think it’s part of the reason why I try not to get too high about anything, because I know I can lose it quicker than a poker player’s life savings.

So, if you don’t want to end up single and content like me, avoid the mindset of entitlement.  Matter of fact – avoid feeling entitled to anything all together.  As I mentioned before, when you allow yourself to be entitled, you narrow your thinking to see things only the way you want to, becoming close-minded.  And when you become close-minded, you stunt your own growth, lock the doors of opportunity, and create roadblocks that prohibit your success.  Think about it: how many truly successful people do you know that are close-minded?  Other than a few politicians, most of the close-minded people I know are always struggling for something.  If you ever find yourself feeling entitled to something, think about people who come from third-world countries.  Because many of them come from having nothing, they pursue opportunities as if they’ve got nothing to lose.  That’s the mindset we should all have; let’s give up our “rights” and humble ourselves.  Kind of funny how humility plays in to all this.  But of course, that’s a topic for another day…

Fear: The Stuff of Champions!

Let’s just be honest with ourselves here: we all hate to do homework!  In grade school, it kept you from hanging out with your friends.  In college, it kept you from going to what everyone called that one “party of the year” (and if it was at Northwood it probably sucked anyway).  And in your career, it can keep you from spending quality time with your loved ones at home; unless you’re that one guy who hates his wife.  Yet at the same time, you know it’s just another one of life’s many speed bumps that you just have to go over, just like taxes.  Why? Because you know that if it doesn’t get done, you’re the one who suffers the consequences.

Not sure if this kid's parents put enough fear in him...

So in a sense, the thing that motivates you to do your homework is the f-word.  No, I’m not talking about the one that relates to x-rated action.  And I’m definitely not referring to it as a homosexual slur (I’ll leave that kind of language up to James Harrison for now).  The word I’m talking about is fear.  Think about it: as a little kid in elementary school your parents always stressed to you the importance of doing your homework.  More than likely, they often scared you into doing it by threatening to ground you, or giving you a piece of the leather (belt, that is) to that backside.  So there you were, running home as fast as you could. Not to watch the next episode of Pokemon or Jerry Springer, but to that table or to your room to do that evil homework assignment.  The sooner you got it done, the sooner you could be outside with your friends, breaking your neighbor’s window playing ball, or harassing that little girl from the other block (who’ll likely grow up to be your wife).

Many people downplay the trait of fear.  We often hear it associated negatively, and usually those who show it are taken advantage of in today’s society.  You hear phrases like, “you have nothing to fear but fear itself,” or, “I fear no one!”  But what many of us fail to recognize is that fear plays a part in our motivations.  In all actuality, having a small dose of fear is actually essential for doing the things you need to do to live out your dreams and accomplish your goals.  Don’t believe me?  Consider my personal example.

As some of you may know, I came from Pershing High School in Detroit.  I started going there when I was in 10th grade after we moved from Georgia due to my mom’s retirement from the Navy.  It was here where I started to turn the corner academically and mentally, making A’s and B’s in 10th grade, then settling for nothing less than an A afterwards.  I graduated from Pershing with a 3.65 GPA and was known for being one of the smartest kids in the class (they even nominated me for Class Nerd; an award I didn’t win…but should have if you really stopped to think about it…).  But the months before coming to Northwood, I read in a packet that even scholarship students flunk out of college.  Add that to the knock that my school was known for poor academic standards (on top of being in arguably one of the worst big city school districts in America) and needless to say I had a bit of fear coming in to college. So to start out my first term, I made a point to stay committed to my schoolwork first and worry about everything else later.  The end result, I graduated in four years with a 3.64 GPA, easily among the top 10 percent.  Not bad for a kid from “The P!”

Anyone who tells you they walk without fear is probably in denial worse than Roger Clemens.  Fear exists in everyone, whether it be penny-sized or twice your own size.  The key is to not allow it to debilitate you, but to utilize it and ingrain it into your motivations.  Using fear this way allows you to stay humble and keeps you on your toes.  I use my fears to give 110 percent into anything I set out to do.  Keeping a mental picture of the worst that can happen allows me to think of ways that I can avoid those situations.  Question is: how will you use your fears?

Something Worth Chasing

I couldn't tell you what these guys are chasing...But me? I'm chasing my dreams.

I remember this one time I was taking the Greyhound bus home for a weekend to make it to a Tigers’ game the next day.  On the way from Flint to Detroit, I was chilling out and listening to my mp3 when I noticed this boy who was trying to spit game to this chick.  I kind of watched him as he struck out swinging trying to get this girl’s phone number and other info (personally, I thought the guy was mentally off to begin with…).  She would keep telling him things like, “It’s nice to meet you and all, but I’m not really interested in trying to know you or get into a relationship right now.”  She saw me watching and we both chuckled and shook our heads (seriously, the guy was slow).  And my first thought was: “Man!  It sucks to be a woman!”

I’m sure we’ve all seen and/or been a part of cases like these.  Whether it’s that girl walking past you in the mall, or (for the ladies) that guy in the club, I’m sure you’ve found yourself pursing someone who you knew was probably way out of your league.  But this isn’t just limited to pursuing a soul mate (or a booty-call if that’s more of your thing).  We as people find ourselves pursing things like cars, houses, and all those new gadgets that become obsolete in six months.  These things are so far out of our reach, they come off like the English Premier League in soccer to our “Major” League Soccer in North America (for those who aren’t familiar with soccer leagues, think of the NFL compared to arena football, or MLB to Independent League baseball).  And ironically, they all have one thing in common: more often than not, these are temporary materialistic things that you can’t take with you when you pass away. Believe it or not, there is only one thing out there that you have that no one can take from you: your goals and dreams.

Let me tell you about something I’ve recently started (and part of my reason for starting this blog).  I recently established myself as a freelance publicist; except, I call it something different.  The name of my side gig is the same as my username – abrothanamedCed: The Marketing Communications Artist.  I see myself as more than a publicist who can write-up a good news release.  It’s why I expand my services to whatever is necessary to market my clients and partners to the best of what I’m capable.  Check out my website at http://www.abrothanamedCed.com.  How long do I plan to keep up with “abrothanamedCed”?  Until I establish myself as an official small marketing firm, or until I find that one company I decide I want to take over.

Logos, websites, business cards? It costs alot now. But it's the long-run that matters.

How does this relate to chasing my dreams?  Well, as you may be aware (or should be by now) I’m a recent college graduate.  And as some of you also know, the question you get asked the most is, “so, whatcha gon’ do now?”  My main goal after graduation was to be able to stay in the Detroit area.  Having matured and living here a while, I’ve grown to appreciate the city (believe me, as a kid I used to hope this place would burn to the ground).  So you can imagine that I haven’t been much of a fan of the criticism the city has taken lately.  It’s like this once proud city of more than a million citizens has become America’s punchline of now fewer than 800,000.  Call me crazy, but I’m one of those who thinks the city can bounce back one day.  And you know what’s even crazier?  I want to be a part of the turnaround.  Whereas others get their kicks-and-giggles living “La Vida Loca” in cities like the NYC and LA, I find that there’s something to be said about making it in the D.  I guess you can say I get my thrills from being the underdog.  After all, If I go down, I’d rather do it swinging!

That’s just my lengthy example!  The point is, your dreams and goals are the only things really worth chasing.  Men and women, money and cars, clothes, jewelry and gadgets, all of these things are only temporary.  Like I said in my first post, do what you love to do and these things will come along in the process.  At the end of the day, how would you feel if you couldn’t say that you didn’t spend at least a couple of days in your life pursuing your goals, dreams and passions?  But, whatever you do, don’t let me tell you what your dreams and goals are.  If your goal in life is to get “the hottest chick in the game wearing your chain” (Jay-Z quote), more power to you!  Just make sure it’s something really worth pursuing in the grand scheme of things.

Oh, and by the way: since I know I may not make money with abrothanamedCed right away, I accepted a full-time job with BNP Media!  Those student loans don’t payoff themselves you know.  Anyway, I start tomorrow, so wish me luck!