Almost every prospective client I’ve talked to over the last 30 years has asked, ‘What is the value of media exposure?’ My answer: Millions. Few prospects take my answer seriously even though they should.
However, the current U.S. presidential race offers an unusual degree of insight into the value of media exposure. Here’s the nib of it: Donald Trump has spent just 12.53% of what Hillary Clinton spent for the period 7/1/15 to 9/30/15. Despite this he’s in the thick of the race and is leading the Republican pack.
How to explain this? In a word: media. Mr. Trump is a master at media relations, and this has made all the difference in the world vis a vis his candidacy.
That’s because a presidential election offers unusually clear insight into the value of media exposure because, in the end, this exposure, in large measure, is what determines the outcome of the election. In some respects, media exposure is the purpose of a presidential campaign.
And because of Mr. Trump’s mastery of media, he’s holding onto millions that his rivals are spending.
Mr. Trump offers us all lessons about media relations. First lesson: skill matters. He didn’t get his results while spending a fraction of what Clinton did, by luck. In addition to skill, Trump remains aggressive, takes risks, and never, ever stops courting the press. These are good lessons all for everyone, but especially marketers and CEOs who want not just exposure, but value and a return on their investment.
In this flurry of campaign spending Mr. Trump probably isn’t laughing all the way to the bank, but is likely having a good chuckle at rivals who might be crying all the way to the bank.
Below, some additional statistical insights that demonstrate Trump’s mastery at using the media to his advantage.
- Hillary Clinton campaign expenditures, 7/1/15 to 9/30/15: $43.1 million
- Donald Trump campaign expenditures, 7/1/15 to 9/30/15: $5.4 million
- Hillary Clinton North American media exposures, 7/1/15 to 9/30/15: 115,715
- Donald Trump North American media exposures, 7/1/15 to 9/30/15: 179,676
- If Hillary Clinton worked the press as effectively as Donald Trump, she could have spent just $3.5 million to achieve the 115,715 exposures she earned. Instead she spent $39.6 million more.
- Trump leads the Republican field after spending just 6.30% of all Republican spending and 9.48% of all Democrat spending.
- Trump leads the presidential race after spending just 3.78% of what all other candidates have spent combined.
The chart to the right comes from Federal Election Committee. The last column in the chart was added by me. The total Republican spending, the total Democratic spending, as well as combined spending include spending by other candidates not shown in the table. The source on media exposures came from Factiva, a media analytics platform.Untitled 5.