Donald Trump recently did a rather classy and unexpected thing: he printed out a Business Insider piece I had written about him, wrote some comments on top of it, and sent it to me — via one of his assistants, of course, but still very cool for a writer to get a handwritten note from The Donald in response to a blog post.
Reminds me of a reporter who told me many years ago she used to get handwritten comments and little “corrections” from Michael Eisner when she wrote articles about Disney for The Wall Street Journal back in the day. (I have no idea if that’s true, but either way, it’s neat to imagine the busy chief executive of one of the nation’s most powerful media companies sitting down with a pen and line-editing a reporter’s piece. Deliciously old school.)
Anyway, because Trump did a seriously cool thing, here’s some FREE* advice for him on how he can win the presidency, if he really even wants that encumbered position. (Why does advice always have to be monetized, by the way? Overpaid Ivy League political “consultants” who have never set foot in a Wal-Mart, nor flown coach even once, nor enjoyed Bill Maher’s favourite substance, even in college — these cretins should only get to cash those fat paychecks if their guy wins.)
1. You’ve done a lot of business deals over the years… er, decades. Business can get messy. Everyone in America gets that.
Rather than apologise for past deals, which you would never do anyway, just say what resonates with everyone: “I did what I had to do to get to where I am today.” No one except for perhaps some self-righteous MoveOn.org newsletter editor would object to that statement.
If you’re a billionaire, the masses will respect you, even if they also hate you. That old saying about being nice is entirely true — if you’re successful, no one cares if you’re nice. And if you’re not successful, it doesn’t matter how nice you are.
Mark Zuckerberg is probably a very nice person. That’s not what early investors cared about.
2. Young Americans are actually far more eager to sell out than you’d believe — put more accurately, they just want the opportunity to sell out. The unemployment problem has struck 18 to 30 year olds the hardest. I hate to quote anything at all from Wall Street 2, but this line from Gordon Gekko’s lecture about our generation is true: “No income, no jobs, no assets.”
Just as voters went for the Hope/Change BS in 2008, we’ll fall for the “You can be part of corporate America’s success, too!” narrative in 2012. Make us believe in the American dream again.
3. Don’t make this about President Obama… McCain made that mistake, and it cost him an election. Rather than telling us what John McCain believed, he told us why what Obama believed was misguided. When you’re talking more about an opponent than about yourself… weak sauce. And voters don’t like weak sauce.
4. Go social. Internet newsletters, a well-designed web site, and terrific social media strategy worked for Obama. It can work for you, too. Right now all you have is a relatively obscure YouTube channel where you sit in your opulent office sounding off on “issues” — that’s fine if you aspire to a show on HDNet, but not good enough for the next President.
Your YouTube channel should keep the down-to-earth/raw feel it has now, but get “everyday Americans” (whatever that means) into your office. Have short video clips, a new one each day, where a Joe Sixpack USA gets to sit down next to you in the Trump Mordor Tower for a few glimmering moments and ask something that he feels is important to know, perhaps even crucial, when deciding whether he will vote for you or not.
Same deal with your Twitter account, which already has a huge following: no more pimping upcoming Bill O’Reilly interviews. Mr. O’Reilly does not get people elected; he criticises those who are already in office. Big difference.
Social media and the perceived one-on-one connection, however, does get people elected. Respond to “nobodies” on Twitter and answer their questions. We don’t really care what you believe, we don’t care that you’re far richer than us, but we don’t want another “elitist” in office who doesn’t “get” us… We basically want another Bush — another pro-business tough guy we’d feel comfortable “grabbing a beer” with — only one that isn’t Bush, if that makes any sense.
5. Spend an afternoon in an actual grocery store — not one in Manhattan, either. Not a Whole Foods. Memorize the prices of stuff, especially milk. I doubt the lamestream media would go for the same trick twice, but you never know.
* Nothing is truly free in this life, not even caffeinated, rambling bloggers’ advice; if you win, I expect a comped room at one of your casinos, and $100 slot play.
Opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of his company, content partners, or advertisers.
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