Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Election Night Speeches Have Great Healing Power

Election night speeches have tremendous power to heal, and they will have special impact in what has been an awful, embarrassing presidential campaign. There is so much that we have taken for granted that has been turned on its head. (I feel so badly for people for whom this is their first election.) While I’ve always said the best communicator wins, there has been so much tumult generated from so many different directions, I honestly change my mind about who is doing a better job from one day to the next… sometimes during the course of a single day!

I veer from sure to shaken.

So instead of identifying who is likely to win based on who I think is the better communicator, I’ve decided to move on to the election night speeches the candidates will deliver when the election results are in and the power they each have to move us forward from our current, depressing circumstance.

These election night speeches are critically important, both in substance and style. With this terrible campaign as a backdrop, they will be more important than ever before, for the country, indeed for the world.

So here is what both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump must do in their election night speeches whether they win or lose.  By observing them, we can learn a lot about leadership, particularly the roles grace and dignity play.

The mark of a true leader is someone who can give voice to the people he or she leads. When a candidate wins a US presidential election, it’s possible less than a majority will have voted for that person. Of the majority, many will vote not because they like a candidate, but because they dislike the opponent more, therefore limiting further who can be counted as a solid supporter.

But when a winner is decided, especially in a non-incumbent year, the ground immediately shifts beneath us all. For many in the opposing camp, it feels more like a earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale.

So it may seem as if the winner has a bigger lift than the loser, but I think they both have an equal, as well as awesome responsibility.

They must both exhibit signs of dignity and grace. The language of inclusiveness, of love, even, should be front and center, and not just for one’s own supporters, but for all the people.

The winner in particular must primarily show heartfelt compassion for the supporters of the loser, if not necessarily for the loser him or herself. (It would be nice, but unlikely given the personal animus between the candidates this time.)

The loser must communicate faith in the system and respect for the people’s decision. This is to ensure the peaceful transfer of power, a uniquely beautiful part of the American system.

Additionally, the winner should..

  • Keep it short. I’d advise no longer than 15 minutes. Obama spoke longer than that, but our attention spans have shortened since then. Besides, in terms of eloquence and public speaking technique, he’s a hard act to follow and neither Clinton nor Trump has his chops.
  • Thank every American who participated – whomever they voted for – followed by those who are closest, then the team.
  • Acknowledge the other side, that it was a hard fought campaign. Show grace in winning by promising to listen to and work with the loyal opposition.
  • Speak truthfully about conflicts and disagreements, but tie it into our freedoms.
  • Convey hope for the future and confidence about our ability to get there,
  • Exhibit a little self-directed humor.
  • Speak from the heart.

And, the loser should…

  •  Keep it very short. 5 minutes is enough.
  • Convey the selection of a president is bigger than any one person or campaign.
  • Acknowledge the loss and affirm it was fair and square.
  • Thank supporters, family, and team.
  • Show grace and dignity in losing by going quickly and quietly and don’t return to public life for a good, long time. The country needs to heal and adjust.

With passions running so high, t’s difficult to imagine how much can be accomplished with a solid, heartfelt, dignified, and graceful speech, especially after such a horrid and, frankly, disgraceful campaign. But we’ll all have a chance to see, hopefully Tuesday evening, that powerful speech can heal deep wounds. I’m certain of it. It’s actually the only thing I’m certain of when it comes to this election.

Bad Publicity vs. NO Publicity: Presidential Campaign Lessons

We’re finally down to two. The last ones standing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And one will become President of the United States.  

After all the primary debates and most recently, the conventions, the campaigns have begun the slog toward Election Day. On the one hand, you have Clinton, who cannot seem to get out of her own way when it comes to dealing with the screw-ups of the past and Trump, who has not encountered a criticism he should not respond to. It’s reported they are the most disliked candidates in history.

And there are still 3 months to go!

So, is it really true that the only bad publicity is no publicity? Is it better to be talked about than ignored, regardless of what’s being said?

It’s complicated.

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton. In her case, bad publicity has a decidedly negative impact. The reason why goes something like this: Bad news sticks when it 1) undermines the core argument you make about yourself or 2) supports the core argument the opposition would have people believe about you.

Clinton promotes herself as experienced, knowledgeable, a steady hand, a hard worker. Therefore, it’s logical to assume a knowledgeable, experienced person would know that using a personal email server for state and often highly confidential business could create significant problems. So the actions contradict her message. (NOTE: I am not judging, only observing.) They undermine what she’d like us to believe about her and give ammunition to the opposition in their efforts to derail her candidacy by sticking her with the “poor judgment” label.

But what about Donald Trump? Have his choices undermined his candidacy? Not yet. Trump promotes himself as a business expert, strong, and not politically correct. Furthermore, he has trained the public over many years to expect little from him in terms of behaving within the usual boundaries of polite discourse. One powerful result is he is not held to that standard. He is vulnerable, of course, but he’s been very successful so far at protecting himself from news that could undermine his claims of business prowess, such as his tax returns. This also cleverly plays right into the political incorrectness theme and keeps him in the news because although it isn’t required, it’s traditional for candidates to release their returns for public evaluation, so pushing back against tradition fits.

There is one advantage for Hillary Clinton: Bad news that has come her way in recent days has not stuck because Trump is sucking up all the media space.  

So what’s the answer? Is it true that the only thing worse than bad publicity is NO publicity? Right now, if you’re Hillary Clinton, the answer is no and if you’re Donald Trump, the answer is yes.

Like I said, it’s complicated.

While Everyone Zigs, Donald Trump Zags and Why You Should, Too

It’s an old advertising/marketing adage: If everyone zigs, you zag.

What this means is you have to stand out, do the unexpected, un-follow the herd. We have a prime illustration of how successful this strategy can be in Donald Trump. He has been so successful, in fact, he could become the next POTUS, a terrifying thought.

Like a lot of media commentators, I stated early on Trump was a passing fancy, a man of the moment. I thought he would fade and soon. After all, how could someone who says and does such absurd things be taken seriously by voters?

I was so wrong and as a communication expert, I should’ve known better.

First, I always thought his slogan was perfect and the best of the lot, by far. I still do. “Make America Great Again” hits so many marks in message creation and framing, it’s hard to know where to start.

Second, since he announced over 8 months ago, he has been a daily fixture in the media. No other candidate has come close, not even Hillary Clinton. Trump knows it’s a bad day when he’s not being covered. He takes the cliché, “the only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity,” to new heights.

Third, he has a strong POV and no filters.

Fourth, he knows what the media wants. More important, he knows what many people want and has tapped into how they are feeling. He says and does things that we have never seen publicly in a presidential candidate before. We’re shocked, but titillated. We shield our eyes, but we cannot turn away. We all say, “Oh, how awful,” but we secretly admire his chutzpah and skill (at least I do). We even agree with him on some things.  We cannot stop reading and watching. As a result, the long-suffering press industry has been presented with a financial windfall and, thus, has a stake in keeping him front and center.

It’s a very hungry beast and Trump knows how to feed it.

Trump knows the more outrageous his statements or behaviors, the more likely it is he’ll be covered. So he makes a habit of it and the media jumps. The outcome is all Trump all the time, a level of saturation that big advertisers can only dream of and Trump is getting for free! If you’re inclined to believe “A Diamond is Forever” or “You’re in Good Hands With All State,” then it stands to reason that “Make America Great Again” and its author have made a little home in that place in your brain that wants desperately to believe someone is out there who can make it all better.

Donald Trump may be the greatest “zagger” in modern times and though I personally think a President Trump would be a disaster (to use one of Donald’s favorite words), there are several things we can learn by watching him:

    • Identify what makes you different. Trump thinks of himself as the “strong man” among “weaklings.” He demonstrates it through his words and behavior. Your differentiator could be the way you serve clients or do your work. It can be your online branding or even your personal attire. Figure out how to “show, not tell.”
    • Follow your instincts. Unlike Donald Trump, most of us have filters. That is a double edged sword. It’s good if it enables you to entertain opposing viewpoints. It’s bad if it keeps you from saying something that needs to be said. If you feel something or hear that little voice, or if something doesn’t quite fit, acknowledge it, make sure stakeholders know your thinking and why, quickly course-correct, and move on.
    •  Know what you know. Certitude has always been a great sales technique and Trump has an excess of it. There are things we all know to be true others may find controversial. Don’t be afraid to state them unequivocally and remain steadfast in the face of criticism and pushback. It may mean some clients fall away or you push them away or find  employment that’s a better fit. This can be so difficult and painful, but it’s also freeing and  will create space for better things ahead.
    • Stick with it. Discipline is key. Trump has been doing his zagging consistently since he announced last June. Consistency works… even if what someone is saying is ridiculous. Why is this? Because repetition has a way of inspiring belief. (Again, I refer you to the major advertisers.) Don’t give up. If you become dislodged, get back in there.

Learn from Donald Trump, but don’t be like Donald Trump. He may be a role model as a marketer, but not as a human being and certainly not as a leader for this country. In his case, they are separate. In yours, they shouldn’t be.