Saturday, July 6, 2013

How do you Keep the 99% Alive?

Image Credit
When people hear, “We are the 99%” they know that you’re referring to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement.  I studied sociology in university and have a keen interest in causes where social disparity is the main focus, so I followed the rise (and eventual fall) of the OWS closely.  We all have our ideas of why OWS was slowly forgotten about after the last of the protests were broken up.  I think it was the lack of organization and concrete demands, along with the shift in public image from one of Robin Hood public crusaders to fringe protesting lazy free-loaders (which even those in vehement support of the movement would not want to be associated with).  

                                                     Video Credit YouTube 

If we were to look at this from a purely PR perspective it was missing the A and E from the RACE formula.  The research and communication components of the campaign were done very well.  There was so much valid information the OWS movement did a wonderful job of spreading to people all over North America and beyond.  It became very difficult for anyone to ignore the astronomical socioeconomic gap between the elite and the rest (majority) of the population.  During the original protests the public was inundated, via all major communication channels, with the movement’s message.   

Let’s look at action and evaluation.

By bringing attention to the inequalities prevalent in capitalist societies the OWS may have hoped their adversaries would freely change, but engaging your adversaries is not often an effective PR strategy.  There were no real demands or suggestions for their supporters or neutrals.  When the current campaign stopped being effective the group didn’t do a complete assessment and evaluation of what worked and what didn’t.  And because of that they just continued on with their failing approach.  Although I have complete adoration for the OWS’s message of equality, communication, love and community I didn’t know what I could do to help make a difference, nor did I see how camping out somewhere would bring about lasting change.       

Ultimately, for a campaign to be successful you must employ the RACE formula, and ensure you revisit it for the duration of your campaign because it is cyclical.  I believe to have the movement continue there must be a shift from the original awareness campaign to one of a call to action through specific demands/requests.  They have already engaged their supporters and persuaded neutrals to become proponents of the campaign.  They now must regroup and reengage and tell their audiences what to do–such as boycott products and services, change their consumption habits (with specific examples), sign petitions, force their local politicians into action, and debate.      

When you see things the OWS movement was trying to prevent through their protests occur, such as doubling federal student loan rates, a new strategy must be implemented.  Otherwise, the protests, arrests, and awareness campaigns become nothing more than a wildly successful PR stunt of the past.   


  1. Loved your analysis on the Occupy Wall Street movement. Thanks Jen!

  2. Thank you, Sophia! I appreciate you taking the time to read it!