Author Topic: The new US President and "truthful hyperbole"  (Read 32 times)

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Offline agate

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The new US President and "truthful hyperbole"
« on: February 02, 2017, 04:29:11 pm »
US President Donald Trump likes "alternative facts." According to his book (not actually written by him but published under his name) The Art of the Deal, these are some of his thoughts about how he likes to present himself to the media:

One thing Iíve learned about the press is that theyíre always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. Itís in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you. Iíve always done things a little differently, I donít mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious. Also, I achieved a lot when I was very young, and I chose to live in a certain style. The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me.

Even bad coverage is still good

Iím not saying that [journalists] necessarily like me. Sometimes they write positively, and sometimes they write negatively. But from a pure business point of view, the benefits of being written about have far outweighed the drawbacks. Itís really quite simple. If I take a full-page ad in the New York Times to publicize a project, it might cost $40,000, and in any case, people tend to be skeptical about advertising. But if the New York Times writes even a moderately positive one-column story about one of my deals, it doesnít cost me anything, and itís worth a lot more than $40,000.

The funny thing is that even a critical story, which may be hurtful personally, can be very valuable to your business. Television City is a perfect example. When I bought the land in 1985, many people, even those on the West Side, didnít realize that those one hundred acres existed. Then I announced I was going to build the worldís tallest building on the site. Instantly, it became a media event: the New York Times put it on the front page, Dan Rather announced it on the evening news, and George Will wrote a column about it in Newsweek. Every architecture critic had an opinion, and so did a lot of editorial writers. Not all of them liked the idea of the worldís tallest building. But the point is that we got a lot of attention, and that alone creates value. . . .

Most reporters, I find, have very little interest in exploring the substance of a detailed proposal for a development. They look instead for the sensational angle.

Donít lie ó but use misdirection

The other thing I do when I talk with reporters is to be straight. I try not to deceive them or to be defensive, because those are precisely the ways most people get themselves into trouble with the press. Instead, when a reporter asks me a tough question, I try to frame a positive answer, even if that means shifting the ground. For example, if someone asks me what negative effects the worldís tallest building might have on the West Side, I turn the tables and talk about how New Yorkers deserve the worldís tallest building, and what a boost it will give the city to have that honor again. When a reporter asks why I build only for the rich, I note that the rich arenít the only ones who benefit from my buildings. I explain that I put thousands of people to work who might otherwise be collecting unemployment, and that I add to the cityís tax base every time I build a new project. I also point out that buildings like Trump Tower have helped spark New Yorkís renaissance.

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to peopleís fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. Thatís why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.

I call it truthful hyperbole. Itís an innocent form of exaggeration ó and a very effective form of promotion.

The book appeared in 1987 but "truthful hyperbole" doesn't sound so very different from the equally absurd "alternative facts"  of today's news.
MS Speaks--online for 13 years

SPMS, diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2001-2004. Copaxone 2007-2010.


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