What You Can Learn From Donald Trump About Public Relations * Keep Public Relations

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I have a client who runs a landscaping business. He is also Catholic and proud of it. How do I know? Oh, there’s a giant crucifix hanging on the wall in his reception area. And as you walk around his office, it’s hard not to also notice certain religious placards and signs hanging from the walls reminding you that “Jesus died for your sins,’ or that “He is coming.” Spend more than 10 minutes in conversation and you’ll inevitably find him referring to his church or the Lord. He is a good man and proud of his beliefs. I envy his conviction and his purpose. But is this the right kind of behavior in the workplace? For a landscaper?

In my neighborhood there is a well-known delicatessen. The owner, a family man in his early 40s, recently campaigned to fill an open spot on the township’s board of commissioners. He is a Republican. We are in a heavily Democratic district. His face was on billboards and in the local newspaper. He tirelessly spoke to community groups. Everyone of course knew that he was the owner of the popular deli; in fact, he spoke proudly of his business and his experience as assets that would help him do a good job on the board. Campaign signs hung prominently behind the cash register. But the deli owner narrowly lost the election. And he also lost business. I know this for a fact. I overheard the conversations from others who refused to eat there anymore because they disagreed with his political ideas. (In my opinion, the overcooked roast beef would’ve been enough of a reason.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if my Catholic friend also turned off a few customers. I’m sure there are people who would prefer not to do business with someone who makes his religion such a prominent part of his person

Which brings me to Donald Trump. He’s a character for sure. But I personally don’t think he’s a crook. He is, that said, guilty of having opinions. Maybe it’s purely for political reasons. Maybe it’s to feed his ego. But having controversial opinions has certainly garnered him national attention. It’s added to his brand. It’s increased the value of his assets. And I’m certain his prestige, fame, and rich reputation have helped him get in doors, negotiate better deals, or at least get him better seats at baseball games. So why don’t we all do the same? Why don’t you, as business people, project your opinions and your personal beliefs onto your businesses more often–like my landscaper friend and the deli owner?

How Personal Beliefs Mix With Business

There can be many upsides for doing this. If potential customers agree with your points of view then you may very well create stronger bonds with them. You know, peas in a pod stick together or something like that. And even if a customer doesn’t entirely agree with you, he may still be won over by your tenacity, devotion, and dedication to what you believe in. And who’s going to argue with someone who stands by his commitment to his religion, God, the American way, apple pie, moral values, or hard work? “Anyone with this kind of value system in his personal life must be a good person to do business with too,” one might say.

In a world where consumers are buried in noise from advertisers and big companies, isn’t it nice to find someone who stands out? Why would I not do business with this guy? I may not completely agree with his religion or his politics but I like his style. I like his confidence.  I like his willingness to put himself out there for what he believes. I bet the deli owner and the Catholic guy have won over many new customers because of this. They’ve created their own personas in their own little world, just like Donald Trump has been doing on a larger scale.