|November 1, 2011|
|OWS Already a Big PR Success|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Occupy Wall Street is a dismal flop, according to my esteemed colleague-in-commentary Fraser Seitel, who faults the protest movement for lacking both leadership and clear goals. |
My buddy, a former Chase Manhattan Bank PR executive and current PR consigliere to the Rockefeller family, is spending too much time of late matching bon mots with Shep Smith on Fox TV. Seitel, for once, is missing the big picture of OWS.
OWS and abolitionist (or home-grown terrorist to some) John Brown
The Wall Street protest is anything but a flop. Seitel scans the heavens and wishes for a snowstorm to mercifully put an end to this “pointless nuisance movement.”
He wrote in his O’Dwyer commentary: “As the weather now turns cold and reporters have second thoughts about trodding all the way downtown for questionable purpose, the publicity bloom will be soon off the Occupy rose.”
I believe the Great Blizzard of 2012 could not diminish the single greatest accomplishment of OWS, which is to highlight the income chasm between the super-haves and the rest of America.
OWS campaigners do complain about a hodge-podge of perceived injustices, but the unifying theme of the one percent benefiting at the expense of the 99 percent rings loud and clear across America.
Or as the Oct. 22 Economist put it: “To the man-in-the street, all this smacks of a system that has failed.” That conservative British publication tipped its hat to the PR message of OWS, saying “to use one of the protesters’ better slogans, the one percent has gained at the expense of the 99 percent.”
On Oct. 25, the Congressional Budget Office validated the message of OWS, releasing its “trends in the distribution of household income between 1979 and 2007.” It found that income for the top one percent increased 275 percent during the studied period. That compares to 65 percent for the next 19 percent, 40 percent for the next 60 percent and 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.
The New York Times reported Oct. 30 that the one percent of U.S. taxpayers in 2009 controlled 17 percent of overall income, while the bottom 50 percent collected 13 percent of income.
The CBO and NYT numbers tell the story of income inequity, but the 99 percent posters and banners of OWS get the message across in a simple and more powerful way than dry statistics.
There’s a parallel between OWS and abolitionist (or home-grown terrorist to some) John Brown. His raid on Harper’s Ferry provided the spark that triggered the Civil War. After Brown was hung, it was up to others to carry out his anti-slavery message.
OWS isn’t going to raid any federal arsenals at time soon, but its 99 percent message makes it much harder for Republicans to continue their never-ending call for tax breaks for the rich. That’s a PR win for OWS. It's up to the Administration and its timid Congressional Democratic allies--many are lock, stock and barrel purchased by the campaign donations of the one percenters--to speak up for the 99 percent.
Seitel says I'm off base. He told me that OWS is “little more than teeth gnashing and breast beating. It’s points on the board that counts!”
We’ll see how things play out. I do agree with Seitel on one point. OWS could use a charismatic guy like Brown as a spokesperson to shake up the establishment press.
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