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Posted on 11.08.2011

Occupy Definitely Occupies My Interest, How About Yours?

Occupy movements continue to make headlines in communities across the U.S. and beyond and there are plenty of fascinating P.R. lessons to be learned from both the occupiers and the authorities responding to their activities. From a media relations perspective, however, I’ve been impressed that each group seems to have one or more designated “media ambassadors” to serve as spokespersons for the group. That’s smart and, from what I’ve seen locally, effective. Due to its grassroots nature, the larger movement doesn’t have a single spokesperson but it nonetheless seems to have people who have been designated to make themselves available to media on a consistent basis who are largely conveying a consistent message. And the movement has most certainly mastered the art of the “photo op!” Over the past few weeks I’ve repeatedly heard people ask, “How did this start?” or “Where did all of this come from?” According to NPR, which credits Adbusters, that story is an interesting lesson in the power of blogs and social media. On July 13, Adbusters posted a message to its website and listserve (#occupwallstreet) that urged “you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,” starting on September 17, “to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.” Wow.  That’s kind of a big request, don’t you think?  And while it was early October before the movement began to gain widespread attention, people responded. To say the least. What did Adbusters tap into?  According to numbers released in the last two weeks by the Congressional Budget Office and the Census Bureau, a pretty profound reality. The CBO study, released in late October, states the income of the richest 1 percent in the U.S. soared 275 percent from 1979 to 2007. Meanwhile, new Census data released last week shows that 1 in 15 Americans now lives in extreme poverty, defined as earning less than 50 percent of the official poverty line – that’s an annual income in 2010 of $5,500 for an individual and $11,157 for a family of four. These statistics lead me to believe we’ll be seeing Occupy movements continue for quite some time, despite the approaching winter weather that most authorities hope will send participants scurrying back into the warmer indoors. Are you fascinated by the Occupy movement or tiring of it?  What are the P.R. lessons – good and bad – that you’ve observed?    

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