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Donald Trump Proves That All Publicity is Not Good Publicity

As we approach the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries, one candidate has dominated discussions and news coverage. That person, of course, is Donald Trump. The former Apprentice host entered the race with celebrity status, and his fame has grown at an incredible pace since then. He’s used divisive statements to attract media attention, but while he has won a loyal following, he has angered a much larger group, and risked damaging America’s strong relationships with our international political and business allies.

While Trump’s popularity rating is growing faster than most people would have guessed, he’s also become one of the most hated public figures in the world today at an equally unusual speed. In addition to causing serious offense to groups such as Mexicans, Muslims and Paris, the absurdity of his quotes have made him a figure of fun for the press and social media users, not only in America but around the world.

They may seem amusing at first, yet Donald Trump’s comments are not just bad PR for his presidential campaign, but for our country. Do we really want our reputation as a nation to be defined by a man who is the butt of every late night TV show joke? A man who doesn’t think twice before insulting entire countries and religions? According to research by OpenTheBooks, published by Forbes, the US spends millions of dollars every year on public relations to ensure positive relationships with our fellow nations and encourage international business and tourism. Over 3,000 public affairs officers are employed by federal agencies, making the US government the second largest PR firm in the world. Trump is single-handedly undoing all that hard work and investment in PR resources.

Trump’s disastrous public image is a lesson in everything not to do in a public relations campaign. From showing a lack of empathy towards Syrian refugees, to making uninformed comments on sensitive subjects such as the Paris terrorist attacks, he contravenes the basic rules of PR on a daily basis. His thoughtless outbursts have even affected a high profile military legal case, with the lawyer representing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl claiming that by weighing in with his opinion that the former prisoner of war is a “dirty, rotten traitor,” the Republican candidate has inhibited Bergdahl’s right to a fair trial. It seems that he is not aware of the number one rule for anyone in the public eye: “Everything that you do or say is public relations.” Perhaps you could call his campaign an unorthodox form of PR lobbying, but usually this doesn’t involve angering political and business leaders around the world. If this is how he runs his campaign, we can only imagine the press secretary that he would choose for office.

As a celebrity, causing controversy and attracting media attention is a fast route to success, and Trump is hoping to apply the same tactics to politics. And sure enough, his poll numbers are impressive among Republican voters in key states such as New Hampshire and South Carolina. However, we may never get so far as to find out whether this approach can win an election. The 69-year-old New Yorker could be barred from competing before the primaries even officially begin. There have been calls for him to quit from influential people in the US and abroad.

The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Trump’s plan to ban foreign Muslims from entering the United States “disqualifies” him from the presidency as it is “contrary to our values.” Middle Eastern companies have severed business relationships with his company, and he was urged to withdraw from the presidential race by wealthy Saudi Arabian prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. The prince used Donald’s favorite social network, Twitter, to make sure his message got through.

.@realDonaldTrump You are a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.
Withdraw from the U.S presidential race as you will never win.

— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) December 11, 2015

to which Donald Trump responded @

Many world leaders have added to the criticisms, and in the UK a petition to prevent Donald Trump from entering the country received a record number of signatures. He also angered the French by blaming their strict gun laws for the 2015 Paris shootings, at a time when the rest of the world was focused on supporting the victims and their community.

I think we can safely say that Trump is doing nothing to help our international relations, and even within the US, he is causing great discord. In addition to his negative portrayal of Muslims, he has offended Mexicans with a series of shocking comments, including claiming that the country is sending criminals and rapists to the US, and suggesting they should pay for a wall to be built along the US-Mexico border. His unfair comments about Mexicans and Muslims make them feel unwelcome and resentful, while other Americans may be influenced by his views and become distrustful towards them. He is encouraging attitudes which are against the public interest, creating tension and damaging relations between different cultures in the US.

As with all the 2016 presidential candidates, social media has played an integral role in Donald Trump’s campaign, but his use of platforms such as Twitter is unlike anything we’ve seen from a politician before. There seems to be no social media or PR firm managing his online presence, in contrast to the use of leading experts in this field by all his competitors. It appears that Donald posts whatever he feels like posting, with no fear of the repercussions. Here are just a few of the Trump tweets that left the internet in shock over the years:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012

An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama‘s birth certificate is a fraud.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012

You could try to defend Trump’s approach to social media by saying it’s more honest and authentic than the carefully curated feeds of his opponents. But if nothing else, he should employ someone to stop him from falling for pranks by cheeky adversaries out to make him look like a fool. He threatened to sue in 2014 when he was tricked into retweeting a photo of serial killers Fred and Rose West by a user who claimed they were his dead parents and great fans of Trump. Donald’s worrying attitude towards women has also become clear in his tweets to female public figures. He posted nasty tweets about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, and retweeted a shockingly inappropriate post about Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton being unable to please her husband. He also offended many female with this unpleasant tweet about Bette Midler.

.@BetteMidler talks about my hair but I’m not allowed to talk about her ugly face or body — so I won’t. Is this a double standard?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2012

It’s not only online, but in his public appearances and speeches, that Donald Trump could benefit from the advice of a PR expert. One of his most ridiculed moments was when he said he would like to turn off the Internet, and planned to ask Bill Gates for help. Not only is the idea absurd, but it would also be terrible for business, as the US economy and businesses across America rely on the world wide web. Trump has consistently made uninformed comments, which do not give the impression of an intelligent, considerate individual with whom you would trust the running of a powerful country. Instead, his ideas seem off-the-cuff and thoughtless.

Throughout this campaign, there have been many Public Relations no no’s from both the Republican and Democrat parties. However, Trump’s faux pas outshine those of his opponents on a daily basis. There is a common phrase used in the public relations industry that “all publicity is good publicity,” but I think Donald Trump proves otherwise. His behavior may have made him more famous than ever, and even a front runner in the GOP race, but he has simultaneously gained enemies across the country and around the world. The outcome of this story is yet to be seen, but I believe that in years to come it will be seen as a cautionary tale.

Monique Tatum

Monique Tatum is the CEO of BPM-PR Firm, a PR and Marketing firm based out of NYC. The firm services clients for full scale public relations campaigns, events, social media, influencer and celebrity marketing for fashion, beauty, lifestyle, corporate communications, technology and more.

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