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Donald Trump has changed public discourse. Invectives, unsubstantiated claims, global statements of personality have all been woven into constant replays of this presidential candidate’s sound bites. Trump has made visceral attacks acceptable through repetition in discussing the most prestigious public office on the planet.

This change of tonality in public discourse will soon begin to appear in all forms of advertising. After all, advertising is an attempt to alter personal choices. As the results of this tonality continue to attract implied acceptance, those in similar circumstances will begin to adopt the same techniques.

Attorney advertising shares great similarities to political advertising. In a sense, every Monday’s call sheets are a poll of the public’s opinion of your law firm. Further evidence is the crumbling of rules and regulations of Bar restrictions. In Florida, a bellwether state for regulators, the courts have consistently opened doors for broader language. Most recently the historic national restriction on “Specialty” fell to court rulings.

While personal attacks will always be disdained some will run to it as the answer. Watch for language such as “Why call a loser”, “everybody likes me and you will too”, and “I’m a winner” as it begins to appear – the Bar will be hard pressed to contain them. The Trump effect will flower toward the end of 2016 and infiltrate in full force in 2017’s productions.

The question that begs is how to combat these blatant bullying language attacks? First, accept the fact that what you or anyone says in an advertisement is fully filtered by the public. From the earliest age of sentient combination of sound and image (age 2yrs) we learn to “consider the source and underlying purpose”.  We know that “best” is puffery. We know testimonials are not a random selection but a carefully chosen, and often rare, occurrence selected by the advertiser. More recently there is proliferation of “awards” which are purchased – with a superficial selection process.

Given filtering, the answer is for the public to participate mentally with the decision that you are the best PERSONAL choice. This requires that you present many different aspects of your personality in a successful sequence in an interesting fashion.

A carefully crafted image does not come with one advertisement. It takes time to show sincerity, knowledge, humor, charity, and sacrifice for others. We must allow the public processing time. Since we must continue to acquire cases day after day, the show never ends.

Each day the public is conditioned to ignore advertising techniques that are repetitious, boring and boastful with predictable claims of superiority. They want entertainment, wonder, and a good feeling when the advertisement is over. You don’t want to go to a movie in which you don’t like the ending. This is the ultimate challenge – to transmit information and have the public come to the right conclusion, while entertaining them.

The public adds all the presentations together – humor and factual — to form an image that cannot be diminished by foul language and personal attacks. They come to the conclusion on their own…we just provide all the elements. It’s an image that cannot be shouted down because the conclusion was a deduction not a claim.

The TRUMP effect gets neutralized with a smile.  It’s a hard job to keep the public focus over all others, but that’s what we have been doing in lawyer advertising for 45 years.

Richard Sackett/CEO/Group Matrix

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