Out of Thin Hair: Why Trump Won’t Win

Can the publicity machine known as “The Donald” actually succeed in propelling Trump to the White House after his sudden leap onto the campaign trail? While the answer ultimately rests with the public, the first place to look is the media, which has changed dramatically since the last major election. Trump may be making the headlines he adores, but in my opinion, he’s making all the wrong moves in the long run, because he doesn’t understand the media in 2011.

Donald’s approach is simply very 1990s, a one-way blast of messages without nuance (or much substance) with little, if any, interest in who’s absorbing this information or how they feel about anything. It looks like the only thing he’s tracking is the gaggle of 24-hour news-cycled reporters of mainstream print or TV.

And when he’s criticized for his policies, intellect or hairstyle, he fights back like an angry Rottweiler, tearing apart the critic’s perceived weaknesses, whether it’s Rosie O’Donnell’s weight or, more recently, Jerry Seinfeld’s failed TV show. Seinfeld dared to excuse himself from a Trump charity event because he couldn’t, in good conscience, stomach the Donald’s divisive campaign tactics.

This “I’m-great-and-tough” style will not work today. Despite the fact that no one wants a president who’s primed for a brawl any time he’s criticized, his response to criticism will backfire now that the “story” can spin for days and practically everyone on the planet can chime in.

You’re already seeing reporters and bloggers digging deeply into Trump’s business success, the one thing people think they know about him. Scorching information on past bankruptcies and poor business decisions are starting to hit the Ethernet like a swarm of angry bees. It’ll be interesting to see how he reacts when they’re stinging him from all sides.

The fact is, our society consumes information and images more profoundly and rapidly than we can gauge, and the explosion of online and mobile images is transforming the way politicians or corporations operate. So much is out there, in fact, that a bunch of web start-ups have launched just to help journalists and others sift through the explosion of online content to publish and amplify the most relevant information. There are even talk shows in the works based on perspectives collected from the social media.

If you can exploit this shift intelligently, you can gain and keep the attention of people whose impressions, decisions and behavior will determine your success. It’s no longer about how loud you can rant.

The opportunities can be great when we reach audiences on their terms, target them more narrowly, and interact with them continually. But the downside is just as great, when we – and the Donald – don’t.

The new technologies, especially video, are democratizing the media to such a degree that virtually no politician, celebrity or corporation will be able to communicate in the future without a clear, two-way strategy.

Donald Trump doesn’t do two-way, and at this point, I’m convinced this will be his downfall as a candidate.

With his one-way, two-decade old approach to communicating, in fact, Donald Trump won’t be able to win an election to dog catcher, let alone the presidency, though it’ll have nothing to do with his birther rants.


7 comments on “Out of Thin Hair: Why Trump Won’t Win

  1. I heartily agree with your views and rationale, Don. How quickly we forget that during Trump’s initial financial meltdown he left thousands of Atlantic City pensions in ruins, with never an offer of restitution once his wealth was reclaimed.

    He’s a super smart guy, and I’ve often enjoyed listening to his feisty remarks when interviewed here and there. Seems that much like his mysterious hair, the man himself has gone askew, perhaps consumed by the very media/celebrity culture he created.

    I expect when he comes to his senses and sees the personal damage he’s visited upon himself, the world will again begin to relish the man we love to hate, rather than a somewhat pathetic individual in the midst of a monster hubris attack.

    Your views are spot on about the two-way, increasingly social fabric of contemporary media. Which is why GOP and Tea Party bully pulpits work only for a time, then when the fun’s over must adapt or die.

  2. Wow, that was a very nice piece on The Donald. I got sucked in, clicked to get the rest, and felt more than pleased at the end. I’d quibble with one word: “profoundly.” We sure are consuming information and images “rapidly,” as you say, but I think the profundity is open to question. In fact, sometimes I think the profundity has disappeared entirely, and McLuhan has been proved prescient again, big time. Have you read Hamlet’s Blackberry yet? If not, you need to do so.

    Well, 68 years old and still working full-time at Springfield College, and actually still having fun. The president announced his retirement and I was going to go out at the same time, but he changed his mind and asked me to stay awhile.

    Are you still in Fairfield? What about lunch in Hartford some warm spring day?

    C: 413-575-5699

  3. Good insight Don about The Donald. You expressed much of what I have been feeling from the deluge of media attention to Trump the past few weeks. He appears dated in every way…dress, manner, patriarchal, angry, boorish, bigoted, chauvinistic, narcissistic and controlling. Your point about the need for politicians and leaders to be open and engage in two-way communications with individuals and group collectives is right on the mark. And in this regard, Trump is clearly a dinosaur.

  4. Robin Horton on

    Well put. And great headline, fab photo!

  5. Don’t worry , he’s not running. May 16th NBC will announce
    their Fall lineup & his show will be picked up for another season &
    he’ll be out of the “campaign.” The man is a bully, a coward & a racist.

  6. Trump is not well-versed in the art of genuine conversation yet demonstrates great mastery at narcissism and bullying. He flails his gloves mindlessly and aimlessly, believing his tactics will leave his opponent down for the count and people will still be in the seats. He seems to have adopted the belief that any visibility is good for business – as long as he keeps on punching. This may help ratings, but certainly not desirable for the leader of the free world. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time…

    Diplomacy, two-way dialogue and relatability rule these days, not something Trump has in high quantity. That said, there is a refreshing and entertaining quality to his bluntness, even when I disagree with him. Kind of like the weird uncle that embarrasses you at family gatherings.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Don. Also loved — Into Thin Hair. It made me giggle. Well done. 😀

  7. Karen Caruso on

    Great article and “head shot.” I agree with your assessment of The Donald’s dated use of media. And while his bluster and sensationalism may be good fodder for selling reality shows, it does not bode well for government office, where one needs to work collaboratively with others.

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