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8 key ways to play the press, according to Donald Trump

The candidate has long been clear on how to use the media to his advantage. His bestselling "The Art of The Deal" holds the keys to Trump’s press strategy.
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16 Jun 2016 – 03:58 PM EDT
Donald Trump before the media June 8, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland. Crédito: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Donald Trump has had a turbulent relationship with the press.

The latest incident occurred this week after the Washington Post published an article outlining the Republican candidate’s suggestion, in the wake of the massacre at Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, that President Barack Obama has terrorist ties.

Trump did not like the story, and in an unprecedented act, revoked the publication’s press credentials, citing "wrong and inaccurate" coverage of his campaign. This angered the press, and Trump once again dominated election coverage -- as he has for almost a year.

Ever controversial, the presumptive Republican nominee has known for almost three decades how to take advantage of the press.

In his bestselling 1987 book "The Art of the Deal," the tycoon outlines his press strategy. In explaining his recipe for success -- “Trump style” -- he asks: Why hire a PR firm when a single "scandalous" phrase can do a better job, and for free?

Here is a step-by-step Trump manual for dealing with the press, featuring excerpts from his book:

1. Create controversy

"One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. It’s 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. I’ve always done things a little differently, I don’t 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."

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2. Bad publicity is also good publicity

"I’m 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."

3. Free publicity is even better

"It’s 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 doesn’t cost me anything, and it’s 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, didn’t realize that those one hundred acres existed. Then I announced I was going to build the world’s 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 world’s tallest building. But the point is that we got a lot of attention, and that alone creates value."

4. Think Big

"The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s 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. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion."

"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."

5. Try not to deceive the press

"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."

6. Don’t listen to the critics

"[O]ther people I don’t take too seriously are the critics — except when they stand in the way of my projects. In my opinion, they mostly write to impress each other, and they’re just as swayed by fashions as anyone else."

"I always follow my own instincts, but I’m not going to kid you: it’s also nice to get good reviews."

7. Keep it brief

"Contrary to what a lot of people think, I don’t enjoy doing press. I’ve been asked the same questions a million times now, and I don’t particularly like talking about my personal life. Nonetheless, I understand that getting press can be very helpful in making deals, and I don’t mind talking about them. . . . Also, when I do give an interview, I always keep it short. This reporter is in and out in less than twenty minutes. If I didn’t limit myself, I could spend my life talking to the press."

8. The Art of the Counterattack

"Much as it pays to emphasize the positive, there are times when the only choice is confrontation. In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. I’m very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard. The risk is that you’ll make a bad situation worse, and I certainly don’t recommend this approach to everyone. But my experience is that if you’re fighting for something you believe in— even if it means alienating some people along the way— things usually work out for the best in the end."

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