Tom Keane’s Sep. 23 op-ed “Occupy, Menino, and getting results” resonated with me. Issues activism and issues management share a similar goal: Communicate your or your organization’s beliefs clearly, concisely, and coherently. All too often, well-intentioned protest efforts falter because these guidelines are overlooked.
The ill-fated Occupy movement missed the point entirely. There was no message, merely a hodgepodge of ideas. There was no concise delivery; interviews that I watched on television were, for the most part, rambling diatribes. And, as Keane points out, there was no coherence; “pinning down specifics was impossible.”
Contrast this with Mayor Thomas Menino’s stand against Chick-fil-A. Menino’s message to the company was clear: You do not support values that the City of Boston upholds. It was concise: “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.” And the message obviously was coherent; Chick-fil-A “got” it. This month the company said it would stop donating funds to anti-gay groups.
Standing up for one’s rights or protesting what one perceives as an infringement of one’s rights is part and parcel of our democratic existence. Effectively communicating those beliefs ensures that others hear, understand, and (hopefully) support your message.
The writer is associate professor of communications and public relations at Curry College.