Presidential election cycles offer invaluable lessons for CCOs. And the 2016 race is destined to be a master class. Modern presidential campaigns are innovation labs for the trends transforming our roles – sophisticated use of data analytics, deep stakeholder engagement through social media, and authentic advocacy at scale that drives desired actions and behaviors.

Enter Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, he is a savvy communications practitioner. He may be an entertaining (or infuriating) spoiler for now whose popularity and influence will wane in the coming months. He may be just as likely to become the Republican nominee. Either way, Donald Trump is rewriting the communications playbook.

As The New York Times reports, Trump has "mastered Twitter in a way no candidate for president ever has." Consider the numbers: in the past two months, Trump has been mentioned in 6.3 million conversations on Twitter, eight times as many as his Republican rivals; his 4.35 million Twitter followers dwarfs the rest of the Republican field. Free social media is the centerpiece of his campaign.

For most CCOs striving to position their organizations and leaders and drive authentic advocacy, such results are elusive. Imagine a company able to create sustainable, cut-through competitive leadership almost exclusively through free social media, upending costly traditional marketing, advertising and brand building approaches. It's the holy grail.

So what can we learn from Trump? Authenticity really matters. Donald Trump is unabashedly the "Trump brand." The result is powerful stakeholder engagement and advocacy. He operates with transparency and speed. He communicates with a sharp point of view and clear voice. He's conversational, not scripted; he's more visceral than varnished. Trump is quotable and memorable, which makes him relatable.

Such a polarizing figure may be an unlikely model for CCOs and authentic advocacy. But Trump is mastering the tools of our trade in unexpected ways, achieving outcomes no one thought possible. He is leveraging communications to do what has never been done before. That's worth our attention.

Photo credit: Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore