The Occupy Wall Street movement has had amazing growth in the last week – from 150,000 people in the streets of Rome to utilising the media to ensure the NYPD would back down from their vow to “clear the park” this group has succeeded because of an excellent understanding of 2011 crisis public relations.
Ironically, this rag-tag movement has mastered crisis PR on a shoestring budget – including utilising digital media – something which blackberry who makes millions from communications failed at miserably.
Welcome to the new PR world of new (or no) rules.
- Timing: In a world of constant distractions – where people listen to music while typing an instant message and chatting on a cell phone at the same time, people today are very distracted. Timing matters – and this group understands that while the last few months have been focused on Middle East street protests, the timing now is right for American protestors to be capturing media attention.
- Theatre: Conflict which invites drama makes excellent media theatre – and a situation which people don’t want to miss the action. Not the protestors who are “fighting” an enemy, and not the media who is waiting for the inevitable confrontation with protestors. Theatre is great media.
- Unfiltered Messages – From posting links on twitter and Facebook to captivating videos on YouTube and image sharing sites like Ambusher and yFrog, people can feel connected and part of the “community” without filters. The number of posts about Occupy Wall Street on Twitter outside the United States grew to more than 25 per cent on Friday, and on Facebook, the overall audience has grown to more than 1.2 million in the last two weeks as hundreds of Facebook pages have been created around the country and now around the world.
- Authenticity: As I outline in my new PR book: “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” authenticity matters. These protestors have rejected everyone who they don’t view as completely authentic – from ultra liberal Congressman Charlie Rangel who was chased away from the protests to celebrities like Kanye West who are usually swamped with fans no matter where he is. This group seemingly without a message knows that authenticity (as they interpret it) works.
As these protests begin their 4th week, and spread worldwide, one can expect that this group will attract increasing followers, and media attention in the days and weeks to come. No one will criticise them (want a protest at your home?) and they understand many of the golden rules of public relations.
Everyone today who comments on the internet, utilizes digital media and has a hand held camera is in Public Relations these days – and the Occupy Wall Street people indeed are showing many a crisis PR agency how to capture and keep media attention.
A necessary component of any PR campaign is to “play to your strengths” and the protestors are playing the PR game precisely as it needs to be played, and are using many golden PR rules the right way – capitalising on creativity, timing and authenticity. Regardless if one feels that this is “class warfare” or supports these protestors, they aren’t likely to be fading away from media attention anytime soon. They understand PR.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest PR firms in the US, and author of the just released PR book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” which is available for purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/Immediate-Release-Deliver-Game-Changing-Relations/dp/1936661160
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