The Donald and Fake News

Alternative facts and post-truth appear to be the new characteristics of the world we inhabit. News that doesn’t support an individual or group’s stance on a certain issue is now ‘Fake News’ not to be confused with genuine Fake News.

Who is the lightning rod to these concepts and to then inextricably tie them together?

To state the obvious, Donald J. Trump.

Over the last 12-months no single person would have had more column inches devoted to themselves than the newly minted President of the United States. Love him or loathe him, there is a lot we can learn from him in today’s messaging environment.

The Positive

Understanding his target audience:

Think Menzies’ “Forgotten People” and Howard’s “Battlers”, Trump identified the deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and tapped it for his own gain. The catch-all of: ‘Make America Great Again’ has provided him with an umbrella that enables him to say pretty much whatever else he wants.


Forget the content, Trump uses simple language as opposed to flowery rhetoric. What he lacks in oratorical skill, he makes up for in audience comprehension. The key to communication.

By speaking in ‘absolutes’ he has differentiated himself from the qualified language that has come to typify the Western world’s political class.

In today’s ‘noisy’ environment it pays to own a tone that is distinguishable from the ‘group sound’ of your competitors/adversaries.

There is a school of thought that speaking in absolutes is dangerous ground in political systems; in this instance however, I think that the new President is hedging, given that if he can demonstrate he has used his best endeavours to deliver on his agenda and cannot, it continues to be the system that he has railed against that is the hurdle to delivering the ‘will of the people’ rather than a Trump failure.

The Negative

Facts don’t matter (unless they suit his purpose):

It’s dangerous territory to selectively use fact, or more to the point to besmirch any alternative opinion as ‘Fake News’ if it doesn’t accord with your agenda.

At some point, where reality is relevant (like life for example), facts are bound to catch up with you.

Additionally, on the one hand Trump decries ‘Fake News’ yet has not condemned its used when it has been used to his advantage. In the process, his selective denouncements have legitimised the use of falsehoods to pursue an objective.


The President’s demeanour leaves a great deal to be desired. His default disposition of anger, supplemented by various combinations of appearing to be – disinterested, ill-prepared, making himself the subject matter, and his willingness to articulate semi-formed thoughts as they come to mind leave plenty of room for improvement.

It is fortunate for him that the popular mood and environmental factors were so weighted in his favour that these short-comings were easily overlooked in favour of the ‘bigger picture’ desire for delivering anything but the status quo.

The point of all of this is that it is quite possible to deliver positions with conviction, develop and own a unique delivery style that differentiates you from the crowd, and to communicate with an audience you understand, in its language, whilst (believe it or not) sticking to the facts.


RMK+A has long experience in helping its clients, in all spheres of endeavour, craft and effectively deliver communication to key stakeholders, clients and influencers.


Liberating the effectiveness of public relations….

At no other time in its modern history has public relations lived up to the true meaning of the term.

The ‘public’s voice’ is now heard in every part of political and business activity. And ‘relations’ has become the mantra for all political (government) and corporate initiatives with stakeholders.

‘Stakeholder engagement’, ‘community relations’, ‘social licence to operate’, ‘community’s trust and confidence’ are all derivatives of the practice of public relations.

We are now living in a period where the public’s voice is dictating political policy at an unprecedented rate. This has been reflected in the US election of Donald Trump as President elect, the resignation of the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the potential overthrow of the South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the UK’s decision to exit the European Common Market.

What is giving public relations an even greater role with the news media and the community is mobile communication technologies. These are challenging not only public relations practitioners to expand their thinking and practice, but also governments and corporations in how they engage with stakeholders and also respond to crises and emergencies.

As Massey University lecturer Chris Galloway has highlighted: “Liberating electronic communication from fixed devices means that familiar PR approaches designed to reach audiences through such equipment are insufficient in themselves. They need to be complemented by new strategies, including those based on conceptualising cyber-PR as dynamic communicative ‘touch’.”

 We are now in an era where today’s communities need a ‘continuous personalised dialog’[1]. The sooner community thinking is understood through qualitative and quantitative research, the more effective will be public relations strategies which utilise electronic communication to promote government and corporate policies and initiatives.

This wider thinking about ‘relating’ to the public – one that recognises the mobile communicators, or ‘global knowledge nomads’[2] – must be part of every public relations strategy today because ‘consuming content and managing relationships’ is now ‘the dictator’ of government and corporate messaging.

This new era of public relations calls for innovative strategic communication thinking and the greater use of technology in managing messages, delivering timely information and understanding the stakeholder (publics).

RMK+Associates is at the forefront of this change.

Its specifically designed software – Stakeholder Matrix – for centralising communication for accurate and timely information and stakeholder engagement, and its strong history in understanding the latest shifts in public relations strategies makes it ideally placed to assist governments, corporations and the not-for-profit sector understand the true value and effectiveness of public relations today.


[1] Lindgren,Jedbratt & Svensson, 2002

[2] Lindgren et al 2002