On the night of October 9th, 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took part in the second presidential debate, which took the form of a town meeting. The candidates fielded questions from both the moderators, as well as from citizen participants in the audience.
Each candidate was given two minutes time to respond to these questions, but as the debate unfolded, it immediately became clear that Donald Trump had no intention of staying within this parameter.
Proving to be one of the most unconventional debates in recent history, Trump in particular was more focused on rhetoric and bravado than actual policy. Hillary, in contrast, repeatedly attempted to steer the conversation back to the questions posed by the moderators and audience members.
I created the following word clouds from the transcription of the debate in hopes to showcase the variations of lexicon between the two starkly different candidates. The words that appear largest are those that were used most frequently over the course of the night.
The blue word cloud above features the words and phrases that Senator Clinton repeatedly used. It features words like health insurance, women, children, respect, afford, and hope. Together, they form an abstract mental picture of the image that she and her campaign embodied.
Contrastingly, the red word cloud, which is made up of words uttered by Trump, boasts words like horrible, Latino, locker room talk, radical, and attacked. Unsurprisingly, these phrases have come to be almost synonymous with Donald Trump and his unusual presidential campaign.
Though these word clouds cannot possibly be an effective indicator of the integrity or persona of the candidate, they highlight the fact that the words we pull from our personal lexica do influence the impression we give to those around us.
With this in mind and as public relations professionals, it is imperative that we are extremely conscious of the words that we speak, write and publish. As a copyeditor, we must train our eyes to not only correct grammatical errors, but also read for overall tone and message.
Those in any position within the communications industry should understand that each word in any piece of content contributes a bit of tone, and intentional word choice can be the difference between being a Hillary and being a Trump, so to speak.