Maybe it’s the rudeness of Trump that has helped catapult him to a frontrunner for the US presidency. But, is this actually an effective PR strategy? After all, it’s worked so far for Trump. Other elected officials have also used it with some success. Many celebrities have been rude only to have to apologize or at least deny it later. There’s one well-known celebrity I can think of that has been rude and, to my knowledge unapologetic and that’s Kanye West. Then again, he’s supposedly now $53 million in the hole. So, will the rude tactic actually work completely for Trump? Is “rude” becoming too much of the next thing as a result of perceived success using it as a tactic? As a PR pro, I cannot recommend it. It’s why we see the apologies afterward. There’s another recent example to look at which might help illustrate why not.
PetaPixel reported on a photographer, Jake Olson, who apparently went all rude on social media. Without getting too much into his background, we’ll just point out there’s a claim in the story of making millions in earnings from his photography work. It also points out what appears to be many uncalled-for (in my opinion) rude and insulting responses to comments people left on his Facebook page.
At one point, Olson apparently posts to one person that they should consider suicide. I doubt before that was posted that Olson gave consideration to the continuous fight many have on cyber-bullying and the number of suicides that have been reported about from cyber-bullying.
There are insults of various levels. Some are a bit cryptic, others are a bit more obvious but still somewhat reserved. Then there are flat-out fighting words. If you’re considering it as a strategy, what you might be able to get away with depends on how deep your pockets are. Trump is “often” calculated in his insults. He’s not made that one critical mistake that would cost him his fortune. He may have made enough of them to cost him a presidency. That remains to be seen but, the rudeness is certainly a key focus of his character nowadays.
For Olson, who’s pockets are probably not as deep as Trump’s, going all out for fighting words was probably far more damaging. While Trump continues his insults, it appears Olson has done an about face. Trump could call off his campaign today and likely still sip champagne on a yacht 5, 6 years from now. For most others, this just isn’t the case. Being rude would cost most of us dearly.
So, is it a good strategy to employ “rude” as a means for good PR if you have the money to survive it? Almost always, no. It’s often used to stir controversy, which of course draws attention. You better have a plan to spin it positively once you do draw that attention. If not, the rude efforts can take over. They can remain a central theme that damages yourself and others over time and for the long term. More than not, there’s usually a better way. In the end, rudeness costs everyone something. While it remains to be seen what it will ultimately cost Trump, it will cost even him. We’ll see what it is at some point.