by Tracy Johnson
Love him or hate him, he won the election and became President. Donald Trump defeated everyone to win the most powerful position in the world. And while parents everywhere are freaking out that their children may grow up to be more like Trump (yeah, that’s probably a bad idea), broadcasters learn from it. There are ways to be more like Trump that will improve your radio station.
He did it in the face of a hate-storm from both political parties. And he did it without backing down from outrageous comments, claims and attacks on opponents, individuals and groups.
He did it by appealing to the emotions of a small, but loyal fan base that grew in size and volume. And they spoke loudest on November 8.
Regardless of your politics, you have to admit that Trump has excited a dissatisfied, disenfranchised segment of the public. He’s activated millions of fans, many of whom had little to no interest in politics or voting.
Air personalities should be more like Trump and channel the attributes to improve radio performance.
He communicates with simple words, delivered quickly, colorfully and it’s easy to understand. Dumbed down? Maybe. But it connects with the masses.
He makes his point in easily digestible, memorable hooks. He doesn’t get bogged down in details (some suggest it’s because he doesn’t have any). The public’s attention spans are shorter than ever. Audiences are jaded. To cut through the clutter, we have to be quick. Tight. Short.
The lesson: Lead with a powerful hook that gets far more attention than details, data and information. Is that as it should be? Probably not. But it is true. And you can’t change it. So use it to your advantage.
Has there ever been a candidate like Trump? He isn’t like anyone else, and he is proud of it. In a past U.S. election, Republican John McCain kept claiming to be a “Maverick”, yet everything he said and the way he said it didn’t support the claim. Trump truly is a Maverick. Everything about him fits the label, and he wears it with a boldness that is both annoying (to some-maybe most) and magnetic.
Trump doesn’t conform to expectations. There’s a blatant disregard for convention and authority. And he defies the leaders of his own party. And he never stays from that character.
The lesson: Define the boundaries of your character brand. Know your personality and stay within it. Then be the biggest, boldest, most high-profile version of that character you can possibly be.
Until the last couple of weeks, Trump didn’t read from the teleprompter. He winged it. It’s unfiltered. Spontaneous. It’s maddening to some, refreshing to others. Every time he appears in public, there’s anticipation.
It’s almost become must-see TV. You never know what will come out of his mouth, but you expect it to cause a reaction.
The lesson: The art of creativity is to be consistent, yet fresh. Deliver the audience’s expectation with a well-planned agenda, in a creative, unexpected way. Plan content in great depth, then deliver it naturally.
Little Marco. Lyin’ Ted. Crooked Hillary.
He names his opponents, exaggerates the point with colorful anecdotes (“As soon as Lyin’ Ted puts down the Bible, he starts lying.”), and repeats it over and over. “We’re going to build a wall…”, he claims (a somewhat generic statement) but then punctuates it with a twist: “…and make Mexico pay for it.”
The labels stick because they’re simple. They’re easy to remember. They’re funny. But most of all, there’s enough truth in the exaggeration (at least in the perceptions of the public) that the labels work. It’s maddening to his critics.
The lesson: Brand your content. Assign appropriate, memorable labels to features, original breaks, recurring content and characters. Then demonstrate and reinforce it every chance you get.
I repeat: He repeats himself. In every interview and speech he says the same thing in simple concepts and in different ways. This is not an accident. He is careful to be very clear in making a simple point.
In the primaries, he didn’t just say that “We’re winning the polls.” . He turned up the volume by saying that he’s “attracting millions and millions of people to vote” and that “The polls are so much in my favor, there’s no way they can catch up” and “I’m even winning the polls with (special interest groups)”. When the polls turned against him in the general election, he kept repeating that the polls were wrong and the system was rigged. The polls were wrong.
His simple talking points are reinforced with repetition and demonstration. That makes it memorable. Is it shallow? Call it what you want. But when is the last time any other candidate said something you remember the next day? By reinforcing claims with his outrageous personality, and clearly repeating the points, he’s memorable.
The lesson: Just because you say it on the air doesn’t mean listeners actually get it. You have to constantly say it, demonstrate it and market the attributes you want to be known for.
Trump didn’t claim to be a politician, nor does he want to be. He wanted to be President. He claimed to be a businessman who knows how to make money and negotiate deals. And he backed up the claims.
Others can say it as much as they want, but Trump truly represents it. Your brand is what the public assigns, and he owns this brand. He knows people hate him, but he also knows that’s the price of admission to have an impact. He stays out of the Zone of Mediocrity.
The lesson: Know who you are, and what you are not. Use strengths to your advantage. Ignore your weaknesses. Stake your claim, then say it proudly, in many different ways every single day.
He was always positive and upbeat about his chances. It’s almost as if he willed it to happen.
His confidence borders on arrogance…or maybe it’s arrogance bordering on confidence. Trump acted like the winner from the day he started. Criticism didn’t change him. When he lost a state, it didn’t change him. He assumes the attitude and position of a winner.
The lesson: Confidence is a powerful thing. It attracts followers. Listeners can feel it. When you turn on the microphone, you have to know “I’ve got this”.
Trump not only leveled the field, he changed the game, and forced the candidates to adapt. When Rubio acted like Trump, it blew up in his face. The day of the Indiana primary, Ted Cruz went on an all-out attack on Donald. He was destroyed in the vote, and dropped out later that day.
Every time a competitor tried to play his game, they lost. They tried to become more like Trump, but it didn’t work for them.
The lesson: Never respond to a competitor. Not other stations or other personalities. Focus on your audience, your fans. If a competitor affects your audience, react your audience. But never your competitor. Change the game. Play it on your terms. Ignore the competition because you can’t beat them by being more like them.
Trump generates press and attention. His campaign spent far less than other candidates. Opponents complain about the press coverage, but he is always doing or saying something that causes interest, and talk.
And, he always is available for an interview or appearance.When he did spend on an ad, it was a news event.
This spot aired one time, in one state. And it generated millions of dollars in buzz from free plays on the news and in social media. The tactic was obviously an attack ad, and a derogatory exaggeration Hillary. But it works because, while aggressive, it leverages a personality trait that the public generally agrees with (Hillary’s voice and speaking patterns).
This is probably the most important way to be more like Trump. He plays to win, not to do his best and try hard. After the Indiana primary, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “I only won because I went for the knockout punch.” He’s a businessman who just happens to be one election cycle away from being President.
The lesson: Are you willing to do whatever it takes to become a celebrity that just happens to have a radio show? Are you committed? Are you all-in?
Trump’s win was a great success story. Say what you want about him as a leader, you can’t deny that his victory was remarkable. That goes for whether you’re celebrating or crying. Thee’s plenty that you can
steal borrow to apply to your station or show and be more like Trump. At least in some ways.
Now, go make radio great again.
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