Now in its 24th day, Occupy Wall Street is, according to its website, a “people-powered movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy.” The movement quickly spread out of NYC and hopped into cash-strapped towns like Boston, Denver and Detroit. It’s been questioned by many a writer, reporter and comedian as to how effective the movement is when it comes to bringing about change. But the lessons #OCCUPYWALLSTREET has in digital PR and online branding are undeniable.
A good protest or movement isn’t that much different from a great marketing campaign. People need to get the word about their cause, the cause needs to make moves to draw media attention and the public needs to feel compelled to make a change based on the cause’s message. Occupy Wall Street has done this to some degree. When the protests first surfaced, nary a reporter or news outlet would touch the story with a ten-foot pole. Some cried discrimination and malicious avoidance, which could have been the case, but at the beginning the campaign seemed little more than a couple dozen ticked off wackadoodles looking to end up in the paper.
But like any digitally-based grassroots campaign, Occupy slowly brewed and rallied the troops via Twitter and Facebook. By yesterday, the media had already taken the movement seriously, covered it and perhaps got ready to move on. Having Kayne West show up didn’t help the image issue, either.
What image issue, you ask? Well, there’s that whackadoodle thing I mentioned earlier. The cause, in lieu of finding a clear spokesperson or definitive message, let the people take charge… and some of those people seem a little nuts. But crazy or not crazy, what Occupy Wall Street can teach us about digital marketing and PR is that lack of a clear message can sink interest in a campaign. Many, myself included, found the purpose and focus of Occupy Wall Street to be confusing. Were they there to sink big business? Did they have demands? Was there a solution? While the cause was successful in getting the word out, it’s still kind of tough to tell what that word is exactly.
Still, however muddled the movement’s message is, it is one being spread across the land. But what say you, dear readers? Did Occupy Wall Street teach you a thing or two about grassroots campaigning via the Internet? Or is the whole affair a lesson in misdirection? Sound off below!