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5 PR Lessons from Trump’s Unexpected Sweep

Media is scrambling to figure out how they got it so wrong in counting out President-elect Donald Trump from the running as our commander in chief. With policies criticized by his own advisors, multiple allegations of egregious offenses and near-banishment from his own political party, President-elect Donald Trump’s bumpy road to the White House provides us foundational public relations lessons of a lifetime. Here are five of them:

1. Know, listen and respond to your audience’s needs. As self-absorbing as Trump may appear, his messages resonated with millions of Americans who were disappointed by and felt as though officials in government, in the news media, and in business were out of touch with their day-to-day situations and had left them behind. Despite Trump’s proud pronouncements he benefited significantly from the same systems they deem broken, he heard their cries and recognized they needed to know they were not alone and he would help them do something about it by “making America (and their situation) great again.”

2. Trump kept his messages simple to drive a bold, singular goal—overhauling a national system with “failed policies” hurting their families and businesses. While Hillary Clinton praised policies from President Barack Obama’s administration and was busy explaining and apologizing for jeopardizing sensitive national records, Trump was rallying crowds to “take our country back” and “drain the swamp.”

3. Not known for his diplomacy, Trump openly shared his personality and vulnerably showed raw emotion. It takes courage to show others what we really think and feel, and though many did not agree with his sentiments, this courage created an innate personal connection with many voters.

4. People have an incredible ability to forgive (especially when your opponent is under suspicion by the FBI). Trump has many inadequacies. So does Clinton. With voters overloaded with information through social media and other news sources, the public looks at facts presented and ultimately applies their intuition.

5. In public relations, there are no rules. Connecting with people is not rocket science. Deep down, all we want is to feel as though we belong, we are safe, and we have a purpose.

Despite Trump's faults, American voters braved to the polls in shocking numbers to elect who they felt could help provide them and their families that security.

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