PRotecting our schools

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NRA's Wayne LaPierre

NRA’s Wayne LaPierre

Using fear to draw an emotional response is a well-worn tactic.  That’s what the NRA did in the wake of Sandy Hook.  It moved the national conversation from tougher gun control laws to arming every school in America. “We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards,” exclaimed NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LePierre in last week’s press conference. “American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security. We care about the president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents…Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it.”

My friend and mentor Bert Cunningham posted a comment to Public Relations Nation, framing the PR aspects: “With Sandy Hook victims still being buried, the NRA responded to the Sandy Hook killings saying: to stop gun slaughter in schools, more guns are needed. To those who are not gun advocates, it sounded arrogant and insane…But PR pros and students need to visit http://www.NRA.org and read (yesterday’s) complete press statement and related postings.

“There’s a Mein Kampf-like logic to the NRA’s message,” Bert continued. “It not only speaks to its members, their bread and butter, it also speaks to those less emotional about Sandy Hook or informed about gun violence in general.  And that’s how they plan to speak past renewed calls for greater control of guns and gun use in America.  With the NRA’s aggressive ‘our way is the best way to protect you’ PR strategy now clear, the question is: How will those who seek change advance PR messaging and solutions in a sustained way to overcome it?”

The NRA might have opted for a toned-down response and asked for a seat at Vice President Biden’s table as he leads the president’s new task force on gun control.  Instead, the NRA’s vividly emotional approach cleverly moved the conversation.  Bert and I, and our colleagues and students, will be watching how gun control advocates work to move it back.  Your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “PRotecting our schools

  1. Bert Cunningham

    The NRA was out in force this morning on all of the major network news programs and CNN as well. All speaking on behalf of the gun rights org were well rehearsed and stuck to the NRA’s basic message in all of the interviews, or parts thereof, that I saw. Clearly, they took the time last week to organize the facts they wanted at their finger tips, update website content to support their guns in schools offensive, spoke with passion and conviction, and never gave an inch on the merits of any kind of new gun control initiatives. Give them credit for knowing how to defend their side of the gun violence issue with a forcefull, well-organized “from my dead hands” PR blitz. At the same time, it reminded me of a Mark Twain quote: “Get your facts straight first; then distort them the way you want.” Sen. Joe Leiberman said it best on CNN: “Americans will have to become agitated and organized” to overcome the power of the NRA.

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  2. hikerprman

    My thoughts are that I might pen an op-ed about possible solutions to gun violence (and violence in general), and the messaging we’ll need, and look to place it in a national newspaper. And with Bert’s OK, I might frame the messaging part of the op-ed it in the way he’s so masterfully outlined.

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