Friday, May 11, 2018

Why Trump Is Winning on Foreign Policy - Jamie Monckton

by Jamie Monckton

There are substance and action behind Trump's Twitter account.

Make America Great Again. These four words helped Donald Trump crush Crooked Hillary and take him all the way to the White House. Democrats were left shattered as Trump appealed to a certain audience who had been left behind by the Obama administration for too long. Now ahead of his visit to the U.K. in July, he is changing opinion again. People are beginning to like him overseas; they are acknowledging his difference, decisiveness, relatability, and clear messaging.

From a communications perspective, Trump unequivocally has had a positive whirlwind effect. He has done this by leveraging previously disregarded leadership tactics coupled with an understanding of his various target audiences. Trump managed to identify the audience that matters most, prioritize it, and enable it. This was not an accident. Trump's informed and considered leveraging of social media and information operations has been outstanding. He has expertly created a profile that generates engagement, accentuates his points of difference, and therefore generates discussion, which indubitably enhances his agenda.

The age of lazy opinion is over. We now have an incredibly well educated population who are not satisfied until the why and the so what are satisfactorily answered. Trump has been able to galvanize opinion with modern audiences. How did he do it?
  • Information environment and the advent of social media. Social media have been among the main reasons for Trump's ascendancy to the presidency. He has correctly identified that the way to drive engagement and build his brand was to talk to people on the same level and by the same means. Social media not only enabled Trump to convey his messages in a timely fashion, but enabled him to relate to the audience.
  • Data. The Trump campaign was able to increase the odds of resonance and cut-through considerably through targeted and precise advertising. The role of data in achieving campaign success was identified and effectively utilized from the beginning to the end of Trump's presidential campaign.
  • Millennial generation. They are arguably the most important cohort to be engaging with. The role and significance of the marginalized and disaffected should never be neglected. The younger generation today feels marginalized and feels that it has been dealt a bad hand. Trump was able to identify this unrest and concurrently identify that the majority of the youth would be siding with Clinton.
  • Fake news versus real news: taking advantage. This is hard, and if fake news is used effectively, it can reinforce your Normative Social Influence (NSI) and negate any progress toward Informed Social Influence (ISI). The efficacy of messaging on social media is further distorted by the sheer volume, which increases the opacity of the information environment exponentially and makes it increasingly difficult for one's message to be heard. Trump overcame this by remaining agile and consistent in his nature and narrative. The real issue is making your message heard through the clutter of fake and real news and by building up a trusted brand. This is what Trump did masterfully.
What actions did Trump take to achieve success?
  • Used insights to understand his audience. He identified the current audience behavior and sentiment and set out to appeal to it and identified key intervention points. By successfully understanding his target audience, he was able to draw out actionable insights to maximize the effectiveness of his campaign.
  • Leveraged his point of difference as a candidate. Trump leveraged the fact he was not a politician by nature and that he stood for change, something different, something that would achieve results. He was able to pursue the narrative of "things have not worked in the past; I am the unconventional, successful breath of fresh air." This is a compelling narrative to any person who does not believe that the government represents him.
  • Used unambiguous, entertaining, and easily digestible language. Trump's rhetoric on Twitter, no matter how inflammatory, offensive, imprudent, and shocking, has been orchestrated. This makes Trump "exciting" and engaging for all people regardless of political affiliation. A powerful tool! Even those who do not support him and disagree with his anachronistic and abhorrent behavior still check in to see what he is up to.
  • Remained consistent in persona and messaging. Identified the role of conversation cohort messaging (messaging along the lines of commonality irrespective of demographic). In doing so, he was able to achieve cut-through, persuasion, and engagement. Complementary to this, he orchestrated his image so that he was seemingly accessible and relatable.
So what makes a good leader, and is the President doing it? Many analysts and experts talk about efficiency, time-keeping, adaptability, and the ability to inspire people. Donald Trump certainly has covered all those and more. Through policy, the economy hasn't faltered, and his foreign policy decisions on the Koreas, Iran, and Syria have all been lauded by world leaders so far. There seem to be substance and action behind his Twitter account. On the world stage, Trump is delivering on what he said he would do.

Jamie Monckton, Director of Global Influence, a Strategic Communications consultancy in London.


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