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#Occupy Wall Street: A Case Study in Grassroots PR

The brushstrokes of revolution are interwoven throughout the mosaic of our country’s history.  From the dumping of tea crates into the Boston Harbor to Abbie Hoffman’s rousing rhetoric on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, social activism has embodied the American spirit and molded the American story; the wellspring of which evolved at a grassroots level.  The Occupy Wall Street protests have captivated the nation, and fostered a movement focused on rejecting the status-quo and demanding true revolutionary change.  Beneath the signage, soapboxes and megaphones, there is an undercurrent of public relations strategy flowing through this mission to achieve a more perfect union.

The architecture of having your message heard is an evolving one, to say the least.  Relentless focus and effort is required to promote -and most importantly- sustain your thoughts and ideas.  As was the case with the Occupy Wall Street protests, Twitter hash tags and Internet organization were instrumental in rallying the troops, but unyielding dedication spurned its growth and notoriety nationally.  On September 17th, the first day of protests, scant attention was paid to the events in Zuccotti Park by the media or public.  On October 5th, Keith Olbermann read the participants’ mission statement on his evening news program.  The publicity process is an organic groundswell that begins from the bottom up, and does not occur overnight.

The desired result is a snowball-effect, gradually gaining momentum as your brand and name grace the pages of daily newspapers and magazines throughout the country.  Occupy Wall Street was born of a simple email blast in mid-2011.  By October the world was watching the fruits of their efforts unfold on the national level. 

“I’m incredibly humbled by the college students, the young people, who have built a movement from an interpersonal and social media foundation and forced the nation to pay attention,” says Sandy Dumont, author and The Image Architect, who attended an Occupy protest in Norfolk, Virginia.  “I immediately thought of the ‘American Autumn’ and how I wanted to be a part of something special.”  Sandy was informed of the happenings on television; weeks after the original seeds were sewn and the operation was still in its infancy. 

Regardless of which side of the political fence you find yourself, whether you agree or disagree with the movement that is now sweeping through many major cities in our country, you cannot deny that the nation’s collective ears have perked up, and steadfast commitment to the cause is the reason.  Organization on the ground floor, cross-posting of articles on various social media clients rendering them viral, articles placed in news publications that were initially resistant: it’s paying dividends.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is a statement of solidarity, an uprising against perceived injustice, and a cleverly run PR campaign at its core; devote yourself wholeheartedly to your own personal crusade, and people will begin to listen.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

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