What Trump’s Surprise Election Victory Means for PR & Marketing
Befuddled pollsters, journalists and media analysts are wondering how they could have been so wrong following Donald Trump’s shocking win of the presidential election. Practically every poll predicted Hillary Clinton would win. They were wrong. Media and PR commentators continue to ponder what the results mean for media and public relations.
Considering the pollsters’ massive miscalculation, many organizations will hesitate to believe surveys and other research related to their own brands, some say.
“Election pollsters missed huge pockets of people and major themes; they missed the forest for the trees,” Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate, told PRWeek. “As a result, we will see a lot of introspection on how to assess public sentiment differently including, not just on elections, but policy issues for clients. To get a message right does take ability to measure what people think and feel among different segments of the population.”
The Decline of Traditional Media
The Trump election reveals how little influence the media holds over public opinion, some say. “In piously dismissing public sentiment when it comes to the entire premise of Donald Trump’s fed-up outsider campaign, the vaunted media proved it just ain’t what it used to be in the eyes in the public,” says Joe Concha, media reporter in an article for The Hill.
Consider these statistics: The media approval rating stands at 19 percent, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Americans with high confidence in the media is 6 percent, reports the Associated Press.
Conversely, the election shows the power of social media. Some blame social media, and Facebook in particular, for Trump’s election. People turn to social media, most of all Facebook, for their news. According to Pew Research Center, 44 percent all adults in the United States say they get news from Facebook, Yet Facebook is filled with wildly inaccurate information and fake news stories.
“The most obvious way in which Facebook enabled a Trump victory has been its inability (or refusal) to address the problem of hoax or fake news,” states Max Reed in New York Magazine.
The Power of Facebook
Facebook leads the trend of fake news. Web publishers make up stories, spread them through social media, and rake in money from the resulting web traffic. Some of the many fictions: The Pope endorses Trump. Hillary Clinton bought $137 million in illegal arms. The Clintons bought a $200 million house in the Maldives. Many web publishers are overseas. A group of Macedonian teen-agers is especially prolific.
In defense, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued that the network did not influence the election because false pro-Clinton stories also circulated. “Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said at the Techonomy conference.
Alyson Shontell, editor-in-chief of Business Insider US, called that response “a bit tone deaf.”
“Now that Facebook is such an important part of the news cycle, its vetting process needs to mature. It should evaluate the person who is sharing a piece of content on Facebook, weigh the quality of the link being shared, and then determine how far a friend’s status message should really spread,” Shontell argues. “Coming up with this sort of process isn’t censorship. It’s just being responsible.”
Social Media Analytics Demonstrates its Accuracy
Social media measurement predicted more accurate results. Social media measurement revealed that Trump was gaining positive sentiment, reported TechCrunch. Analytics firms noticed that a growing number of swing voters were engaging with Trump’s messages on social media. Some noted an increase in positive sentiment toward the candidate.
“Analysts monitoring social media activity of both campaigns on the major social media channels saw the outcome of this election coming months ago, and kept talking about the massive silent voter base that was forming around the Republican nominee,” Phil Ross, a social media analyst at Socialbakers, told TechCruch. “Social media analysts continually sounded the alarm that all of the polls were not reflecting the actual situation on the ground in the pre-election landscape.”
Observers were not sure if social media engagement would translate into votes at the polls since social media actions were seen as passive actions. Election results show that online comments can indeed predict offline actions.
Bottom Line: Donald Trump’s shocking election victory shows the lack of influence of traditional media and the newfound power of social media, experts say. It also reveals weaknesses of traditional market research and the accuracy of social media measurement. The election results will probably cause PR and marketing managers to re-evaluate their research and promotion strategies and place greater faith in social media marketing and social media analytics.
Originally published at www.cyberalert.com on November 14, 2016.