PR Week: The Messages that Won Over American Voters

Schwartz Media Strategies’ Partner Aaron Gordon analyzes the messages of the presidential campaign in PR Week.

Change and authenticity: The messages that won over American voters

aaron 3How did Donald Trump pull off the biggest upset in recent electoral history? A mix of change, authenticity, and social media.

Change, authenticity, and apt use of social media. These three things won Donald Trump the presidency on Tuesday, according to public affairs pros.

In a result that came as a shock to the political and media establishments, Trump compiled 279 electoral votes, flipping loyal Democratic states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan in the process.

In key states, Trump’s message of change simply resonated better and turned more voters out, according to experts.

Clinton, on the other hand, tied herself closely to President Barack Obama’s policies of the last eight years, often praising his biggest accomplishments such as Obamacare and inviting him to stump for her in the critical last days before the election.

“She never effectively communicated how she was going to make people’s lives better beyond hanging her hat on the last eight years,” says Aaron Gordon, partner at Schwartz Media.

The message of change resonated two cycles ago in Obama’s first presidential run with the slogan “change we can believe in” – but that was different.


“His supporters would say, ‘Trump may be a billionaire jetsetter, but I know where he stands,’” Gordon says. “The way he talks at the microphone is the way he talks behind closed doors.”

Clinton, meanwhile, seemed to say one thing in her speeches and another behind the scenes, illustrated in her emails leaked by Wikileaks and “basket of deplorables” comments.

“[The ‘deplorables’ comment] validated what a lot of people who were skeptical had already believed about [Clinton],” Gordon explained. “For people who might’ve been undecided, that almost validated everything that Trump had been saying all along about her.”

Continue reading in PR Week.