Trump's advice for bad PR: fight harder

Donald Trump made his decision in the back stairway of the Hilton New York.

Donald Trump made his decision in the back stairway of the Hilton New York.

He'd been ushered there after addressing more than 3,500 PR professionals, and a car was waiting below. But something made him change his mind.

?Let's just do it," he said, re-entering the ballroom. When Trump reappeared, some of the conference attendees - and fans of The Donald- virtually trampled each other to get close enough to ask for an autograph or a photo.

PRSA conference organizers were unsure what to do. "Why would he ask us to do security detail if he's just going to get in the middle of it?" one asked.

?He's encouraging it," another answered.

But this is Donald Trump, real estate's commensurate newsmaker. He later shrugged off the mob scene. He called it "fun."

"I handle it very informally," he said about PR. "I'm at a point where reporters just call me up; they speak to my secretary."

Trump opened this year's Public Relations Society of America Conference in front of a standing room only crowd.

He was both brutally blunt and charming, at one point pulling a young woman from a PRSA college chapter up on stage with him, calling her beautiful, telling her to marry a rich man, and kissing her cheek.

"You probably heard I like women," he told the audience. "It's a problem. It's a terrible, disgusting problem."

But in between jokes about Marla Maples, his hair and people who work in advertising, he offered PR professionals 10 tips for success.

"Everyone one else thinks I get great press," he said. "I think I get terrible PR."

Trump noted that otherwise successful people get disproportionately bad PR when things go wrong. And things certainly went wrong for him in October 1989 when the real estate market collapsed. He owed $9.2 billion.

"All my life I'd been successful. Then around 1990, in the truest sense of the word, the shit hit the fan," he said. "What I went though was hell. And a lot of it had to do with PR."

He added that journalists, in one article after another, pronounced that he would never be able to make a comeback. "They were so happy. They were screaming headlines," he says. "And I fought harder than I ever fought before."

But Trump credited PR for helping him defy the comeback odds with his businesses and reality television show, The Apprentice.

He recalled an interview with a newspaper reporter, who asked why he seemed to be the only billionaire who does commercials. He answered, "Pepsi, McDonald's and Visa didn't want them. They didn't ask them."

Instead of buying his own airtime, he added, he was the one getting paid - and generating publicity. "I've always felt that public relations is much more important than advertising."

Howard Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein and Associates, introduced Trump, calling him a "longtime friend."

"He's a man that recognizes the value of PR," Rubenstein said. "In fact, we're all very lucky that Donald didn't go into PR ... or we'd all be working for him."

Donald Trump's 10 Tips for Success:

1) Stay focused.

2) Think big: "Go for the big client. Go for the big reputation."

3) Enjoy what you do - or you won't be good at it.

4) Never give up: "If there's a concrete wall in front of you, you have to go through that wall."

5) Be (a little) paranoid; even your friends will walk all over you to get ahead.

6) Momentum: "You have to know when you've lost your momentum. Don't expect anyone to be on your side."

7) Be lucky. Some people are naturally lucky, but luck also comes to those who work hard.

8) Get even: "If someone gets you, get them back. They'll learn their lesson if you know what you're doing."

9) Always have a prenuptial agreement.

10) To be a winner, you have to think like a winner.

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