PRotesting to PRotect our planet


“Silent Running” (1972)

In a mostly forgotten, 1972 post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, “Silent Running,” Bruce Dern plays an astronaut/botanist who struggles to save Earth’s last remaining plant life, which was jettisoned into space as the planet’s vegetation dies. In her ’60s hit song, “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell laments how, “They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum,” and “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Fear of environmental disaster has been around for a long time.

Last week I strolled through Hofstra University’s campus, which is filled with natural beauty as thousands of tulips rise from the earth each spring. As I walked, I thought about this Earth Day’s March for Science, inspired by fears that shortsightedness in Washington truly threatens the future of our planet. Business interests seem to again be taking precedent over water, air and earth conservation as the president vows to shrink, if not eliminate, environmental protection budgets.

This is why it was so important that millions of people demonstrated in hundreds of cities around the world this weekend. It was a true public relations event with a simple, crucial goal: to send a strong signal to lawmakers that our planet cannot be sacrificed on the presumption of creating jobs. Among the protesters’ messages were statistics noting the green economy is actually creating more opportunities than those derived from fossil fuels. The Financial Times recently reported, “The number of jobs in the global renewable energy industry grew by five per cent last year, in stark contrast to the steep losses suffered by the oil and gas sector.” Sean Cockerham of McClatchy noted, “Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth.”

Staging a protest is among the purest forms of public relations because PR works to inform, reinforce, create, and change attitudes. The March for Science was a PR event designed to do all of the above–to convince and remind everyone to protect Hofstra’s tulips–and to save our planet. Your thoughts?

49 thoughts on “PRotesting to PRotect our planet

  1. Sabrina O'Neil

    A protest’s main goal is to create a movement and spread awareness. A public relations campaign uses the exact same method. It would be a great PR opportunity for organization to partner up with a movement and voice their support. Not only will it give recognition to the organization, it can place them as a thought leader for the cause.

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  2. Jennifer Im

    I had never considered this a PR move, but you’re absolutely correct. It is in fact the purest Public Relations. It focuses entirely on supporting the cause as well as bring positive attention to the organizations sponsoring the event. It brings together the target audience and encourages them to stand firm in their beliefs. It is simultaneously generating plenty of press, reinforcing beliefs, and conducting SCR all at once.

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  3. Tyler Weatherly

    I think protests are our opportunity to do PR for the many unheard and overlooked voices in our communities. As a woman and person of color, protests have been near and dear to my heart over the last decade. Although protests naturally face backlash on the surface, they do actually help change attitudes and even open up room for tough conversations we otherwise wouldn’t have. I say keeP maRching!

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  4. WhitneyPRGirl

    I think if anything good comes out of Trumps administration, it is the fire he has lit for American citizens to organize, protest, and use their voice. I am not too sure how effect protest can be, but I agree that the March for Science is a pure public relations strategy. I am really surprised to see our country so active in supporting their issues and concerns so diligently. I know America has its history with freedom of speech and effective protest, but to be of age in a time where we can participate and be a part of the conversations is extraordinary.

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  5. gafinlayson

    Protests are an effective strategy for getting your thoughts heard, but it has to be done in a way that is memorable for the cause to stick. I was in Washington, D.C. for the People’s Climate March and it was 93 degrees in DC for the march, but more than 2,000 miles away in Denver, Colorado it was snowing. The march was on April 29th and it should not be 93 and humid and it shouldn’t be snowing. This message was important to show with this march, because it is not just rhetoric that goes with climate change and things that we do on paper to create a change, but there needs to be actual steps made so that it is not 93 degrees in Washington, DC in spring.

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  6. anwarahmad

    Although I am not the biggest fan of Hofstra’s famous tulips, I do agree that protests are the purest form of PR. Protests are such an amazing way to gain attention immediately, and if it is done the right way, protests have the ability to educate and persuade. What is better then that? Additionally, it is essential to protect our environment and if effective ways are found that also provide jobs, that information should be relayed to the public.

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  7. awildapenaluna

    I’ve never thought about public relations in that way, but now it makes sense. As previously stated PR works to inform, reinforced, create, and change attitudes, and that is exactly what staging a protest is about.

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  8. Jenna Morace

    I think that this is a great PR event. Due to our president claiming global warming isn’t real, it’s extremely important that we stand up against that. Not only is sustainability a crucial thing going on in the world today but, there are many people that work in this field to make a living. This was a great way to bring awareness to the issue.

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  9. gsullyprtools

    Considering protesting a PR strategy is a very interesting take. I never really thought about it like that, but can definitely see where this can be a tactic. Any kind of event where the public and community can be involved and create a voice for their movement creates awareness by word-of-mouth, which is considered a PR strategy.

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  10. Bianca Kroening

    It’s so interesting to consider a march or a walk like this a PR event, but when you think about it, it performs all of the same functions. It raises awareness about a cause and aims to change public attitudes about it. What we have to make sure of is that organizations, nonprofits, and people in power use this PR opportunity as well as their resources to make real changes beyond the conversations, but they all started with one day of peacefully protesting.

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  11. Sydney Seligman

    While grassroots organization and protesting has long been an effective method of gaining publicity for causes, I wonder how effective it is against this current administration. I think that the protests under Trump administration are not really considered legitimate by the President and republican-dominated congress. To be truly effective, I wonder if this is making an impact on governmental policy, or if it is just a lot of people making noise and making other “regular” citizens see the issues at hand.

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  12. Marielle McCartin

    I never thought of protests being a PR strategy. But, I believe it is an effective way to get a message out and raise awareness. Aiming to encourage change and make a difference in the world is a form of PR that any person can take part in.

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  13. Haley Moffatt

    I completely agree with protests being an effective PR tactic. Its so important that we make sure to take time to focus on big issues facing our planet including climate change, etc. Protests can do a great job bringing attention to needed causes and open up opportunities for not only the cause but any organizations involved. While I haven’t considered protests a quite literal form of PR until now, it’s enlightening to think about.

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  14. liad zayit

    I definitely believe that marches like these are just a stepping stone to making problems/issues more aware to people all around the road. Espeically with how big social media is today and LIVE feeds, it could be shown on Facebook live, Instagram, Twitter etc to show awareness of the issue. I also agree with the idea that it is an effective PR strategy because it informs the public about an issue.

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    1. Alexandra Halbert

      I love this connection between PR and protests. In fact, I had never really considered it before. Marching and protesting are truly fantastic strategies when aiming to deal with issues head on. They allow for the public to unite, create awareness and let their voices be heard. These movements can influence a change in attitude, values, beliefs and perspective; society feels empowered, better yet compelled, to speak and think for themselves. This is a form of PR that I will now keep in mind more often; what better way to encourage than to take action?

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  15. Gabriella Johns

    I also agree with most of my peers. I think marching, protesting, is a great PR strategy when dealing with issues head on. Recently social media has shinned a negative light on protesting because of violence with the Black Lives Matter movements. Our planet needs to be protected because there is no backup earth! However, I don’t think protesting will solve that specific issue as a whole there needs to be more done on a PR standard.

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  16. Stephanie Rubbino

    I believe that marches like these are a stepping stone to making this issue more aware to people in this country. I agree with the idea that this march is an effective PR strategy because this march like you said reinforces, informs, changes attitudes and creates. Taking care of our environment is more important then business interests . This country needs to learn to take better care of the place they live in because their business interests won’t be able to thrive without a good environment.

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  17. Emily Barnes

    In January I marched alongside thousands of other advocates for equality and basic human rights in the Women’s March on Washington. Up until then I never really thought of marches and protests as a public relations moves, but actually being immersed in an event as powerful as that one, I realized protests are one of the most effective forms of mass public relations. When people come together in masses for a common goal, this tells us that something is not right and change must be affected. I hope Washington heard the protestors’ demands from over the weekend, and listen and respond in favor of our planet.

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  18. Elizabeth Giangarra

    I believe that its so imperative for PR practitioners to fight for what they believe in. I think that through protest is a terrific outlet for PR Practitioners to do so. In order to create change, people must come together to make their voices together an to fight for what they believe in. Protests are meant to do just that’d are an outlet that allow one to do so. They create change in attitudes and reinforce new ideas. This is at the very basis of public relations; to tell stories and create change.

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  19. Michael Mastropierro

    I agree with the connection between PR and protest. It’s always refreshing when people are protesting for a cause rather than protesting just for the sake of protesting. The earth can still be a great place to live as long as we can stop with our harmful behavior.

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  20. rHwang

    I did not think protesting as a PR move, until reading this blog post. It made me think about all the other movements too. After taking some time to think about it, protesting might be one of the strongest forms of PR movements aside from social media. Though I did not participate in March for Science this weekend, I know some friends did and cannot wait to hear how it was.

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  21. Max Newman

    I think this march was a great PR opportunity. It takes a congregation of people who have similar beliefs and values to get the message across. It was clearly portrayed that we need to prioritize our Earth before our economy and in fact we can do both because renewable energy offers so many career opportunities. This message was sent because of millions gathered in the different city. Without them the message would be nothing.

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  22. Sarah Hanlon

    I didn’t think of the march for science as a PR move, but now that you blogged about it, it completely makes sense. Protests like these are vital. It’s unsettling that the decisions being made in Washington appear to be going against the movement of saving the planet, but we are lucky that we have the right to employ the use of marches and protests to fight for what we believe in.

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  23. wendy timana

    I completely agree that protests are great public relations strategies. Peaceful and organized groups of people coming together in a passionate demonstration to demand action is democracy at its core. I definitely agree with the Earth day march and I think they delivered a message that was needed to be heard. The sciences need more government funding to do research in protecting our planet. Alternative sources of energy need to be more researched since fossil fuel is not going to last forever. Trump is trying to bring back coal mining jobs even though there aren’t too many jobs in that field anymore. If we invested in clean energy we could create plenty of new jobs. It would not only stimulate the economy but help our struggling planet in its time of need. The earth gives us so much and we treat it horribly.

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  24. Alyssa Scott

    I totally agree that this march was needed to bring awareness about the environment. Marches and protests are such an important PR tool, especially in cases as serious as this. I believe the environment is more important than business, but those in Washington will only realize the truth in time.

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  25. Emily Bravo

    I find it so disheartening to hear President Donald Trump say he is going to make extreme cuts to our Environment protection budget. There is turning the blind eye and there is being straight up delusional. Trump and the Republican party think climate change is a hoax! Our planet needs us more than ever to stand up for it. The March for Science is a beautiful protest filled with passionate intellectuals. They are the best PR for the environment. Thousands if not millions tuned in and read about the march.

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  26. Neil A. Carousso

    Protests is a core First Amendment principle of our country and can make a real impact on society if the message is focused and not clouded by political divisiveness or anarchy in the form of rioting.

    While I think its important to take steps to preserve our planet and move towards energy independence, an effort taken on by President Donald J. Trump to be less reliant on oil and energy from oppressive nations like Saudi Arabia, I firmly believe that people are more concerned about their financial situations and supporting their families.

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  27. Asher Lennon

    I found this to be very informative and has opened my eyes to how important the fight to protect the environment is. in the future I will definitely try to get involved in protecting the environment and they way people treat it. I also agree that the protests this past weekend was as true of a form of public relations as it gets. All in all this showed me how important it is to make your voice heard.

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  28. Briana Cunningham

    Although I was personally unable to attend the march, it was really beautiful to see the number of people that came together to make their voices heard. Especially to bring awareness to such an important topic. A few years ago when I was competing in the Miss America Organization, my platform was Environmental Protection and Awareness. I spoke in elementary and middle schools, hosted clean-ups, and facilitated contests which helped the contestants learn more about environmental issues. For these, my audience was young children, with the hope that educating youth would lead to a more informed and proactive future generation. Since I was focusing on small-scale change, my tactics were effective. But when your audience is the government and influential law makers, strength is certainly in numbers. The March for Science was certainly a large PR event and now we will have to wait and see if the message was clear enough. If not, Hofstra’s tulips– and the planet- will be in serious danger.

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  29. Ben martin

    I completely agree that demonstrations such as these are vital. We need to be heard because our planet needs us. Plants are responsible for most of the oxygen we breathe which means we will suffer without them.

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  30. Dianne Fallucca

    Concerns for our planet are often put on the back burner, especially since the political climate is much hotter and more obvious than issues of global warming right now. I have always found that stunts like protests and even flash mobs to be the most intriguing forms of creating awareness. I would like to compare this march, or marches in general, to something like the Ice Bucket Challenge, an interactive method of raising awareness. These stunts keep people well-informed and in-check with what is going on in their world.

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  31. Emily Walsh

    In order to create change, people must come together to make their voices heard. Protests are meant to do just that. They create change in attitudes and reinforce new ideas. This is at the very basis of public relations; to tell stories and create change. Climate change and the protection of our planet are extremely important issues that need to be taken seriously. We only have one earth, and we cannot get back what we destroy. We must work together and use PR tactics, such as protests or marches, to get points across and implement change.

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  32. Madeline Myslow

    I was actually in the city on the day of the march and was able to see parts of it as I was visiting. Many of the protestor’s signs mocked the sheer ridiculousness of Trump’s proposal to shrink environmental protection budgets and the protestors’ cleverness ended up making national headlines because of the messages they were trying to get across. While protests certainly are one of the purest forms of PR, they are also one of the strongest forms. I’ve been marching in the Pride Parade for years, and I will never forget the year that same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, and the incredible energy that ensued at the march after, knowing that the push for gay rights was finally worth all of the effort. Marching for something you believe in is almost like doing like PR for the cause, and sometimes it actually works.

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  33. Samantha Storms

    Protests like these just go to show how powerful and influential public relations can be in all sectors of business. While concern over the planet’s future has existed for generations, it’s wonderful to see that people are out on the streets and protesting their government for real change. It sparks new hope in the profession. Minds are beginning to change, and the planet has public relations and its many different arms of influence to thank.

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  34. Hannah Thueson

    I loved the march. I think that protesting when used correctly is one of the best ways to create a policy change. You are showing lawmakers and the general public the level of dissent. It goes beyond a few people tweeting some harsh words. It is a real life movement made of thousands of individuals whose soul purpose is to raise awareness. They obviously did so, as the march was one of the most publicized events this week.

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  35. Kassara McElroy

    When the public comes together to spotlight significant issues it can be powerful. Masses of people peacefully working toward recognition on a subject they feel strongly about it what makes America, America. Protests/marches are public relations events, as they attract attention in person, online, in print, and on television. However, if a protest turns violent I believe it could do more harm than good. Today, the public is more alert and tense than ever and situations can escalate quickly. Last Friday, my friends and I decided to go to the Yankee game. As we pulled into Penn Station, mobs of people screamed of an active shooter and ran for their lives. The panic was very real. After the fact, we learned that the commotion was simply caused by a man being tazed. Those around the tazed man and police interpreted it as a terrorist and gun shots, simply because of out current political context. To tie back to the article, as long as the demonstration remains peaceful, I believe marches, like the March for Science, can be effective public relations events.

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  36. Brittany Liscoe

    It’s hard enough to get the general public to care for the environment as much as they should. It doesn’t help the situation when lawmakers, especially the president, aren’t viewing climate change as a threat or an issue that even exists. The laws that government officials implement are a reflection of what issues the country values. Since no legal action to protect our environment is being taken it is more important now than ever for the public to raise awareness among their peers since we can’t depend on our government leaders to do so.

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  37. Courtney Grieco

    I found this post extremely informative as I haven’t thought of protests as a form of PR. However, protests do just exactly what PR does. It is to inform and encourage change. Protests are indeed a powerful and pure form of PR.

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  38. Daniela Gagliano

    A protest is a great public relations strategy. The gol of pr is to inform the public and change their attitude to hopefully inspire a change through action and that truly is exactly what a protest demonstrates. Having a mass amount of people come together to publicly expose their cause quickly inspires others and gets a message out effectively. Just hearing about a protest leads others to become aware of an issue and possibly conduct their own further research.

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  39. Courtney Grieco

    This is quite an interesting post as I haven’t yet learned about this form of public relations. After reading this I see how it makes sense that protest is the purest form of public relations. Protests aim to enform and to encourage change.

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  40. Elliot Rubin

    I have never thought about a protest as a type of PR event, though when you describe it like that, it makes sense. However, I’m not sure I buy into the efficacy of protests. Despite overwhelming evidence, numerous politicians have claimed to be climate change deniers. I think these politicians are aware of how many people believe in climate change, so while protesting makes the number “real,” I don’t think it has much more of an affect on these politicians. If they still don’t believe in climate change, even after all the evidence against them, it will likely be difficult to change their position. These people are ignorant of the facts, so it seems unlikely that a large scale protest, like the one yesterday, will have much of an affect on changing their attitudes. Unfortunately, I think the most effective solution to this is for several of their constituents to call them, repeatedly, and threaten not to vote for them in the mid-terms if they don’t support clean climate proposals.

    I hope that I’m wrong about the above and the politicians (most, if not all) change their opinions and start enacting environmental regulations, and other helpful steps and legislation to improve the environment and ecosystem. Environmental issues are some of the most important issues that we face, so it is imperative that politicians start acting liking it. Environmental issues should be one thing that should not be politicized – this affects Democrats and Republicans, so they should work together to improve everyone’s lives.

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  41. Julie Dietel

    I have never considered that a protest is a form of PR but I completely agree. The sharing and grouping of opinion to make change is a part of our society and the environment is being ignored all around us; something needs to be done. Protests get the conversation started and help you find people that share your viewpoint.

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  42. Emily Levine

    The march for science was an extremely important event and I was proud to see such a strong contingent from Hofstra participating. Two years ago when I participated in the Earth Day march, it was called the Climate March. And still, lawmakers deny the legitimacy of climate change to the point that this years march was called the March for Science because science is based on facts and it cannot be denied. I think the PR objectives of this march were definitely accomplished because it got people to pay attention and start conversations about environmental protections.

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  43. Haylee Pollack

    I agree that protests are PR strategies and they need to take place in order to change the world and inform others to do the same. However, this is not always the end result due to the fact that there are publics that ignore the protests and refuse to change their way of thinking. This is the case in many other forms of PR as well because there will always be people that ignore or do not share your opinion or message.

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  44. Nicole Lamanna

    Hofstra’s campus is a beautiful reminder of what the earth could continue to look like in the future if we took care of it. Too often we forget just how precious and fragile mother nature is and it’s up to all of us to protect it. In addition, I really liked the connection between PR and protest. The article states “Staging a protest is among the purest forms of public relations because PR works to inform, reinforce, create, and change attitudes.” I’ve never thought about PR or protest like this, however not that I have I find that it’s a very accurate description.

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  45. Madison Wright

    The needs of the planet should be a common goal for everyone. However, it is not and many people are unhappy with how the administration of our nation is prioritizing fossil fuels than the development of wind and solar appliances. There is a need for these protests because if enough voices are heard, change can be made. Hofstra’s campus brings out nature’s beauty and that isn’t seen as much in other areas around us. PR and protesting can have a common message when it comes to certain issues like our decaying environment.

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  46. Sara Fox

    As a sociology minor, I am currently taking a course called Urban America. In this class, I’ve learned a lot about protests and the government’s efforts to regulate and/or stop them. This is done to silence the dissenters and keep power in the hands of the rich, like Trump. However, it’s great when protests are successful and have a great cause. With the new president’s stance on the environment, it’s important that people express their valid concerns.

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  47. Marli Delaney

    I agree with protests being an effective PR strategy, and I also agree that our planet needs to be protected. Millions of people coming together to protest clearly demonstrates the numbers that are being affected by the cause, and these numbers can create change. I’d also like to make a point that the media really impacts this, too; protests are now televised and talked about all over the internet and other platforms, which creates a larger stir of awareness and brings in larger numbers of protestors. Even decades ago with Joni Mitchell and Bruce Dern, their strides are now their legacies and if they weren’t aired to the public on the radio or on television their efforts would probably have been forgotten.

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