How Trump’s Free Media Attention Saved Him $2 Billion

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It's one heck of a freebie -- half of Donald Trump's reported net worth. And it didn't cost him a dime.

It’s one heck of a freebie: media coverage valued at $2 billion.

That’s half of Donald Trump’s reported net worth, and it didn’t cost him a dime.

The New York Times’ Upshot blog reports that the Republican presidential contender has benefited from media attention far more than any of his fellow candidates, Republicans or Democrats.

That type of attention is known as earned media, as opposed to paid media. Upshot defines it as “news and commentary about [a] campaign on television, in newspapers and magazines, and on social media.” The blog goes on to explain:

Earned media typically dwarfs paid media in a campaign. The big difference between Mr. Trump and other candidates is that he is far better than any other candidate — maybe than any candidate ever — at earning media.

Citing numbers from ad-tracking firm mediaQuant, Upshot reports that Trump earned $400 million worth of free media last month alone and has earned $2 billion in free coverage over the course of his campaign.

MediaQuant’s analysis is based on positive, neutral and negative media mentions, although chief analytics officer Paul Senatori tells Upshot that negative mentions are given somewhat less weight. (Exactly how mediaQuant defines a media mention is unspecified in Upshot’s report.)

The firm’s numbers show that, as of the end of last month, the current presidential candidates had earned free media coverage worth an estimated:

  • Donald Trump: $1.898 billion
  • Hillary Clinton: $746 million
  • Bernie Sanders: $321 million
  • Ted Cruz: $313 million
  • Marco Rubio: $204 million
  • John Kasich: $38 million

Not only is Trump leading in that he’s garnered the most free press, he’s leading in that his campaign has spent the least on paid media, according to mediaQuant’s analysis.

As of last month, the candidates’ campaigns had spent the following amounts on paid coverage:

  • Jeb Bush: $82 million
  • Rubio: $55 million
  • Sanders: $28.4 million
  • Clinton: $27.9 million
  • Cruz: $22 million
  • Chris Christie: $16.5 million
  • Kasich: $14 million
  • Trump: $10 million

Wish you could help a particular candidate rack up more free mentions? Share your positive, neutral or negative thoughts about how the press has covered him (or her) by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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