If public relations is the ability to influence attitudes, protests may be the purest form of PR. Throughout history, long-term social change has rarely resulted because of a single leader’s decision; change happened when people raised their voices and pressured leaders to take action.
There are countless events since the beginning of recorded time which serve as examples. From the freeing of Hebrew slaves in Egypt to the rise of Christianity, the Bible tells us of change influenced by great messengers and their followers. Change often starts with a grand gesture designed to attract attention, such as Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to a church door; Samuel Adams staging the Boston Tea Party; or Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus. People power has replaced entire governments through revolution, sometimes for better, often for worse. But change never happens quietly, and it requires that attention be paid.
Protests can take many different forms, but they can never move public opinion without significant publicity. In almost every example communication methods of the day served to tell stories, spread messages and influence people to insist on change. This weekend, the threat of social and political upheaval inspired millions to gather in more than 600 protest marches throughout the world following the inauguration of President Trump. People marched to remind the new president of their concerns and their collective power. The protesters communicated their unity through celebrity spokespeople and massive participation, which in turn got them plenty of media attention.
“We now have a new and untested captain,” wrote former CBS anchor Dan Rather. “His power is immense, but it is…derived, as the saying goes, from the consent of the governed. That means President Trump now works for us–all of us. And if he forgets that, it will be our duty to remind him.”
Those who want to affect change or stop change from occurring can use the power of public relations when they wish to be heard, and hopefully influence, their leaders. The right to do so is truly what makes America great. Your thoughts?