Strategic Communication at a Trump Rally

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I recently attended a Trump rally on UWEC’s campus. As I stood in the crowd, I took notes on my phone of the ways in which different methods of communication were being used. I came to realize that there was too much to jot down; it was being used almost every second! Nearly every statement, every sign held up, and every word spoken by each speaker, held a form of some type of strategic communication. I started to understand just how much thought went in to this huge event. The event only lasted about an hour, that is why I came to recognize that every word spoken was important; because this election is so important.

To begin, the campaign appealed to emotion by singing the National Anthem and doing the Pledge of Allegiance; something that most people can connect to their love of our country. They also handed out signs stating, “Women for Trump,” “Kids for Trump,” and “Veterans for Trump.” This use of pathos showed the support that Donald has from all types of people, hoping to gain support from others who fall in to these categories.

Although many republicans in the media have stopped supporting Trump, the use of ethos through politicians speaking of their support seemed to be uplifting to the crowd. Regardless of what the media says, Donald has support by republican political representatives, as this showed through at the rally. There was a great use of ethos, as many authoritative speakers shared their support for Donald Trump and claimed why he is fit to be president. Sean Duffy brought up Hillary’s email scandal and how she can’t be trusted. He also stated, that Trump will, “get us working again, secure the border, defeat Isis, and make America great again.” His endorsement of Donald got the crowd on their feet, proudly holding up their “Make America Great Again” and “Trump, Pence” signs.

Another authoritative speaker was Ron Johnson, who stated, “We can’t send career politicians back to the swamp they created.” The slogan, “Drain the swamp” was commonly used by each speaker, as well as Trump. This repetition by each speaker, and the chanting of it by the crowd got everyone involved, and definitely got people thinking that the Clintons no longer deserve to be in office. Johnson also used the appeal of fear and slice of life by stating that there will be no change from Hillary and that we will continue to be fed lies. He then presented the solution that is Trump, who will give us change and never lie to us.

Rudy Giuliani continued with this appeal to fear in discussing how Hillary won’t stop radical Islamic terrorism and stating that “we need a sense of honesty in government.” Once again, the solution to this was Trump. The content of his next message contained statistics and was also informative when he stated, “Hillary approved uranium going to Russia, and the Clinton foundation got 100 million dollars from profits of the deal, their friends also benefited from the deal.” He followed with, “let’s put someone in the Whitehouse that no one can buy.” This use of informative statements showed the audience how greedy the Clintons are on a statistical level.

Bobby Knight used a yes-yes persuasive message when he asked two questions that the audience would agree with, developing a pattern of ‘yes answers,’ getting the crowd to agree with his final conclusion that we should all vote for Trump. The questions he asked were “How many of you are sick of the last eight years?” *Crowd boos to show agreement. * “How many of you would like to see change?” *Crowd explodes in cheers. * “Donald Trump will give us that change!” *Crowd explodes once again. *

Scott Walker added to the repetition of “Drain the swamp,” and listed reasons why Hillary is unfit to be president. He added to her mentioned list of lies by discussing how she lied to the families of the fallen Benghazi soldiers.

All of these authoritative speakers led up to the finale of the night: Donald J. Trump, who used many forms of strategic communication. To name a few, he stated that Hillary received questions before debates, and he used humor to then say, “If I received questions ahead of time, it would be a double electric chair.” This statement was getting at how she can get away with anything. The crowd got a kick out of that joke. Another form of communication he used was informative, when he stated, “America has lost 70,000 factories because of politicians controlled by special interests.”

It was interesting to see all of the uses of strategic communications on such a high level. It has helped me understand how communicating messages clearly and strategically has great benefits. I also can now appreciate the thought that goes in to communicating to specific audiences.

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