Crayon Messaging Americans Grasp

64_Crayon_Box.pngSome say that Trump’s campaign messages captivated Americans, while Clinton’s messages seemed to miss the mark with critical people groups. Others say it was Trump’s lack of intelligence that helped him speak to the people and Clinton’s high intellect that undercut her attempts at the White House. These comments caused me to consider how the messaging of each candidate helped or hurt their campaign.

To win an election, or to communicate any message, the speaker must exclude some vocabulary so their message is clear and easy for the average American to understand. The media typically presents the nightly news at the 8th grade level to make sure they reach as many people in their viewing audience as possible.

This makes sense to me when I compare the communication of information to crayons. Almost everyone in our country understands the basics of communication. It’s like the average person is able to communicate in the 8 basic crayon colors. You know the ones, those boxes with the really thick crayons that are hard for preschoolers to break.

As we grow older we mature to the level of communicating with a box of 16 crayons. The crayons are smaller, but we’ve doubled the amount of color choices like our increase in vocabulary. Soon we improve to the 24-pack and those more focused learn additional communication skills that serve up one of those cool 64-packs of crayons. And, there are a few that move on to the 152-pack, but its rare.

Abraham Lincoln spoke at an 11th grade level, the highest level spoken during a run for the presidency. Trump spoke at the 4th grade level, which was the lowest level in history for a candidate. George W. Bush, during his run spoke at a 5th grade level. Clinton varied her talks, fluctuating between the 7th and 9th grade levels – possibly blocking many Americans from understanding her message.

You see, Trump spoke using the 8 basic colors we all understand in life. When he said blue, we understood him because the 8-pack comes with blue. But with Clinton using a vocabulary that included the color Cornflower, many 8, 16 and 24-pack people didn’t know she was saying blue because their vocabulary didn’t included the variation she mentioned. They may have thought she changed the subject to farming or baking—get it, Cornflower.

The readability model used to measure the level of a speaker’s comments is called READ. This information is always tracked by organizations including the Boston Globe and Carnegie Mellon University. And, the published results are readily available in many libraries. The document I read came from the Cornell University Library.

My take away from my mini-study is that I can talk to 64-pack people and be understood by them using any of the 64 colors. But, if a 16-pack person joins us at the table, I have to shift my conversation to 16 colors if I want everyone to understand my comments. I saw this play out in a peculiar way just this week.

A wife (64-pack) asked her husband (8-pack) a Cornflower question. His pride didn’t allow him to ask what she was talking about, so he instead stormed off with his voice trailing, “I don’t have time for any of this.” She turned to me and asked if she was being unreasonable with her husband. I nodded, “No,” and suggested she reword her request based on his 8 colors.

It’s frustrating for a wife or husband who has a spouse with less colors of communication ability because they are constantly talking with self-restrictions to be understood. They typically alleviate this frustration by finding a friend that can handle all of their 64 colors of expression, which greatly reduces their stress.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

Analyzing Donald Trump and His Muslim Ban

TrumpDonald Trump is one of the best personalities for generating millions in free publicity based on his “off-handed” remarks. His latest remarks about banning Muslims from entering our country until we figure things out were a part of a well-planned announcement. The campaign generated huge visibility worldwide for Trump and high ratings for the radio and television networks.

It was also a big enough event for those entering the publicity queue to take advantage of riding Trumps coat tails. It generated thousands of interviews across the nation for every level of “expert” that local stations could find.

Analyzing the announcement and the world’s reaction can be revealing.

The first point of analysis surrounds the fact that Trump’s remarks were thought out, written, and accomplished his goal of grabbing the attention of the media. Trump typically appears to say things off of the top of his head, but with this announcement he sent out a press release with his exact wording and read it from the sheet of paper in the video I watched.

Here is the exact quote:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

The “newsworthy” reactions from people like Mohammed Ali and others coming out of the woodwork were expected. All publicists know that reaction based news stories fuel the extended duration of free publicity, allowing the frequency of Trump’s name to be used well beyond what normal publicity could afford.

Keep in mind that none of the responses have anything to do with what Trump specifically meant, but what could be molded to fit their agenda for publicity. This pattern allows the original speaker to refute the comments or clarify his own, while allowing the responders to promote their agenda. It’s a media game that was started in the 50s and further exploited by bloggers to their sub-markets.

Trump’s campaign requires a media spend of $100MM to gain the predetermined number of votes needed for election. However, estimates show his free publicity stunts generate $20-30MM in media reach and frequency for his campaign. Last summer’s free controversial media campaigns were so significant that Trump was able to cancel $15MM in television commercials set to air.

Trump is the first person to effectively use the media for a highly visible and free campaign (although Obama’s campaign got some free publicity based on his use of social media).

Trump’s style of brusk and controversial remarks has driven much of the news since his announcement to run for office. Meanwhile, those candidates who are more diplomatic in their approach of “temporarily closing borders to all immigrants” until representatives can figure out what’s going on get little news coverage. But those opposing the controversial Trump by suggesting that America will always keep its borders open are getting plenty of airtime.

Free publicity requires a lot of showmanship and little knowledge of political science. Obama’s contrasting “change” campaign did the very same thing. Neither campaign revealing how the candidate would actually run the government once in office. Instead, we were entertained with showmanship.

The publicity is also filled with noise of ignorant people trying to make a name for themselves. The anger driven comments about Trump being a racist fit that foolish category. The reason is because Muslim is a religion, not a race. However, many are now trying to say that he has a racist attitude toward a religion, but the attempt of this positioning insults those who have endured a lifetime of real racism.

The bottom line is that Trump knows how to use his First Amendment rights to gain attention in the polls. And, those who try to ban him, like he wants to ban the Muslims, forget that they are opposing our First Amendment – The very Amendment that allows us freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

But there’s more to consider in a good analysis. We also need to reflect on what’s not being said. Hillary Clinton is purposely staying out of the arguments and playing it safe. Many know she is slipping in the poles and Bernie Sanders is gaining momentum. The key is to keep low until Trump falls, shifting the voting population from a “guaranteed” Republican ticket back to the Democratic ticket.

If Clinton jumps into the mix too soon and becomes one of Trump’s knee jerk reactionaries, she could drop further in the polls. If she waits too long, then Bernie Sanders can gain even more in the polls and pull her “undecided” voters.

Don’t forget that if its in the media, it’s all about entertainment value and ratings. Unfortunately, there is no other national forum available to learn what candidates would really do in office. The “running for office” system is broken and fixing it would hurt the media, as everything is about viewership.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers