Occupy PR 2012

Occupy Wall StreetThe Occupy Movement is barely 3 1/2 months old but its impact and on politics and culture, and communication, is deep and far-reaching. The “Twitter Revolution” and the Arab Spring begat the youth confrontations in NYC, around the U.S. and the world. The Digital Revolution is evolving through surprising permutations.

Whatever their goals, whether this Movement peters out or builds and adapts, the Occupy people know how to use the tools of technology, and the power of street theatre, to shape and drive messages.

The Occupy Movement is the communication story of 2011 and it catapults us into a raucous, uncertain Presidential campaign in the U.S., an economic crisis gripping Europe, and Arab upheavals that continue. It’s an exhilarating and frightening time for communication.

Facebook is no longer a novelty. Neither is Twitter. LinkedIn has matured into the staid professional/social site that withstands fashion. What social communication platform will ascend in 2012? How do we get messages across when college students are willing to take to the streets and wear their arrests like proud badges?

It’s obvious and a cliche but story and personality prevail. PR people are often ignorant of what makes a story. They think that whatever drivel a client is flogging will interest a journalist or engage an audience.

This year I found that we have to think more creatively, like advertising and marketing people, and we need to take more risks to get client messages across. We have to create News Bureaus that push out content through multiple streams, textual, graphic, and video. We have to be nimble and aggressive. In other words, we have to think like the Occupy people.

I’m blown away by the Occupy rapid mobilizations, the live feeds, the news sites that are replicated throughout the world, printing a quality newspaper, dramatic photo ops. They have no leaders and no money but their communications structure beats million dollar PR campaigns hobbled by bureaucracy, ridiculously high professional fees, and an unwillingness to take risks. It should be a very interesting 2012 in PR.