All the Presidents game: How Reality TV and Twitter became comrades in arms for Donald Trump

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  • Donald Trump is following a long tradition for Presidential hopefuls
  • He that masters the communications tools of the day, triumphs
  • Trump adds Twitter to Reality TV to form a new and deadly winning combination

“We have a movement here” sound bites Donald Trump in front of thousands of screaming believers. It’s Reality TV gone political. I am watching gobsmacked as the American election campaign rolls on from state to state. The hard uncompromising voice of Hillary Clinton and the throaty tones of Bernie Sanders have nothing on the Donald Trump roadshow.

Donald Trump’s success – at the time of this blog post he leads with 736 out of a total 1237 delegates to win the Republican nomination, but still a long road to travel – could well prove the point that the leader who masters the mass communications tools of the day, triumphs.

I hear yer
In the late 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became famous for his ‘fireside chats’ on the radio – no national TV until the 1950s remember. He chatted in soft tones and with friendly familiarity to millions of Americans about everything from the banking crisis to the recession and the course of World War II. He mastered with eloquence the medium of the day, the radio.

A picture’s worth 1000 words
Fast forward to 1960 where the polished and handsome John F Kennedy (complete with makeup) captured America through the power of television. The millions watching the first televised debate picked JFK as the victor over a frightened looking Richard Nixon. The rules of the game had changed and Kennedy had spotted it.

Next up comes star of the silver screen, Ronald Reagan. He understood a thing or two about projecting his TV charisma – it went a long way to earn him the moniker “the Great Communicator.”

It’s a multimedia election
Then the game changed again and along came Barack Obama. His 2008 and 2012 campaigns leveraged email, online video, big data and Twitter (remember the four more years tweet) to­­ create another game-changer which he, Obama, understood perfectly.

The Trump armoury – Reality TV
And now we have Reality TV and Twitter personified in Donald Trump – and another set of rules – rules Trump understands to a tee: exaggeration, lies, contradiction, bluff… and on with the show.

Donald Trump didn’t move from Reality TV to the Campaign Trail… he moved the Campaign Trail to Reality TV… and the rules of Reality TV hold – insults are hurled on the televised debates, the baying audience screams, we lie, we boast, we change our minds, and then another day, another story, another boast, and the campaign rolls on.

…and course Twitter
And then there’s Twitter. Trump and his team massively use Twitter. His election team tweet all night – yep – providing fodder for the early morning news channels. No other contender does. It’s a shoe-in for Trump on breakfast prime time.

Real time SWAT analysis from the tweets of your followers
And how about this. The Washington Post noted that Trump’s Twitter account was being used as a “real-time message tester” whipping up his most-liked Twitter barbs into talking points on the trail – it seems Trump first tweeted his eventual campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” in 2012.

As the New York Times explained, it’s ‘an online SWAT team of supporters who spring into action with stunning speed.’

You’re fired! Who will get voted off the show?
And now the establishment Republican Grand Old Party has given in and joined in the Trump Reality TV roadshow. The Stop Trump campaign has rustled up millions of dollars to blast every media outlet attacking Trump – Trump hits back… the mud slogans fly… and the Reality TV campaign rolls on.

Judith Ingleton-Beer, CEO of IBA International

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