Stunned and anxious, but ready to learn lessons: US PR pros in London react to Trump's victory

As the UK wakes up to the news that Donald Trump has been elected the next US president, four senior PR professionals who hail from the other side of the pond give their personal views of how it happened, what it means and what we can learn.

President-elect Donald Trump at a rally last night in New York (Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President-elect Donald Trump at a rally last night in New York (Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Denise Kaufmann, CEO of Ketchum London

"As a lifelong Democrat and someone who has always believed in tolerance, I’m stunned by the results and I am finding it very difficult to reconcile what has happened today with what I consider to be the ideals of America.

"As a business leader, I am worried about uncertainty, market volatility and the economic impact of this decision globally.

"As a woman, I’m heartbroken that the glass ceiling remains unbroken and indeed, can’t help but feel that Clinton was held to a different standard because of her gender.

"All that said, the world will continue to spin on its axis. We will wake up, we will go to work and we will continue to manage our business and ensure that we are prepared for whatever happens on both sides of the Atlantic. My hope is that the rhetoric of this ugly campaign now ends and that we can move forward as country and as a government. And I hope Trump will think carefully about words and policies that unite rather than divide."

Marshall Manson, UK CEO, Ogilvy PR

"Between this vote and the Brexit vote in the UK, we can see the yawing chasm between establishment and working people around the world. I know we need to work harder to listen to people out there. We can't live in our bubbles any more. The implications for our society and Western democracy are immense. The promise is only for an extended period of uncertainty. And we can only hope that the outcomes are positive."

"I'm not sure that I've yet come to terms with what it means. I will confess that I'm sad and disappointed that my fellow countrymen have elected someone that I find so objectionable. I can only hope that he's a successful President - and I hope that his presidency matches the tone of his victory speech this morning rather than the tone of his campaign.

"I'm anxious to see who Trump chooses to include in his White House staff and cabinet. That will be telling."

Stephanie Lvovich, global chair, public affairs, Edelman

Speaking to PRWeek UK this morning, Lvovich said that Trump’s triumph came despite his rival having a "much more organised, much better campaign", Lvovich said, commenting: "This didn’t really feel like an election that was a battle ground on policy platforms. The mass population is just significantly less trusting and the fact he was an anti-establishment figure who had no political experience worked to his advantage."

She added: "I think the historical way we’ve used polling and been able to predict elections – or referenda, for that matter – just doesn’t seem to work well any more, despite the fact we have more access to data and information than ever. People don’t seem to be very willing necessarily to be very open about who they’re really going to vote for."

These factors have implications for the communications industry, Lvovich explained: "I think we’ve seen in Brexit, we’ve seen here, the role of expertise and authority isn’t cutting through like it used to.

"At Edelman for a while we’ve been seeing – in our Trust Barometer and just generally - the power of peer-to-peer, the fact that authority is very much coming from peers as opposed to this traditional expert. "It’s about finding a way to convey messages that are better accepted as true and authoritative in a new paradigm; and also in a paradigm where we can’t use polling to predict or understand necessarily what people are really feeling. In some ways I think it’s the beginning of a new era."

Mike Sottak, MD, EMEA, The Hoffman Agency

"As an ex-pat American, I worry that Trump will undoubtedly introduce perception issues with regard to the US's status on the global stage and it remains to be seen how well he can handle the international relations part of the job – an area where he certainly lacks experience. Hopefully, he surrounds himself with experienced advisors in key roles.

"It’s tempting to label this as a disaster for America, but I personally think that overall, the US will be okay and especially at home, people will hopefully see the benefits of a new perspective in Washington.

"From a PR perspective, one must admire the way his campaign leveraged the Trump brand and used communications tactics directly aimed at the voting base that could most help him pull off this victory. In his victory speech, he was on point and reinforced his position as a man of the people and defender of the new American dream and agenda. He was obviously well coached and uncharacteristically gracious and humble."

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