Is Donald Trump's earned media hurting his brand?
Election 2016 features a presidential candidate like no other. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, has more than 30 million followers across all of the social channels he’s active on, and on Twitter, his most prolific channel, he has over 10 million, approximately two million more than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
What’s more: he’s besting Clinton in engagement, generating double the number of retweets and three times the number of likes.
Trump’s willingness to speak his mind, online and offline, has arguably been both a blessing and a curse, but one thing is for certain: it has attracted a lot of attention.
How much? By some estimates, Trump has already generated more than $2 billion – yes billion with a b – in earned media.
But according to data gathered by local search and discovery app Foursquare, the attention Trump has garnered isn’t driving increased foot traffic to properties he owns or that bear his name. In fact, it might even be driving people away.
Foursquare, which counts some 50 million users, says that since the Republican presidential nominee launched his campaign in June 2015, Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses in the United States have seen their market share of foot traffic decrease, and that the decrease has intensified since spring:
Before Trump announced his presidential bid, foot traffic to his properties was steady year-over-year — and maybe even saw a small uptick. After he entered the race, his branded properties failed to get their usual summertime traffic gains. In August 2015, the share of people coming to all Trump-branded properties was down 17% from the year before.
These losses stabilized to single digits for a number of months, but as Primary voting season hit full swing in March 2016, share losses grew again. Trump properties did not get their usual springtime bounce of travelers and locals. March share was down 17% once more.
Several properties, the Trump SoHo hotel in New York City, the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and Trump Taj Mahal casino resort in Atlantic City, appeared to be the hardest hit properties, with market share of foot traffic down between 17 and 24% year-over-year.
It should be noted that the Trump Taj Mahal, which is closing at the end of August, bears his name but is not owned by Donald Trump.
While it’s difficult to conclusively establish cause and effect, Foursquare did observe that the decreases in Blue States “[run] deeper than the national average” and that visits from women to Trump-branded properties are down sharply.
Given the candidate’s high unfavorability ratings with Democrats and women, Foursquare’s segmented data hints at the possibility that at least some of the declines could be a result of the properties’ association with the Trump name.
Either way, Foursquare’s data, which has been normalized against Census data, seems to suggest that all the earned media Trump has gained through his presidential bid has not increased the share of foot traffic to Trump-branded properties.
So even if there’s no such thing as bad PR, bad PR apparently isn’t always good.