Monday, September 13, 2004

Effective Activism 101

I'm shamelessy cribbing this entire post from Bubblegeneration, because Mahashunyam has done such a great job with it.
How Greenpeace changed the world forever.

"Greenpeace was really good at delivering succinct messages," says Weyler, a former North Shore News journalist who played a key role in Greenpeace's antiwhaling and -sealing campaigns. "A boat on a nuclear test site--that's a clear message. Ecologist in Zodiacs between whales and harpoons--that's a clear message."

Hunter called those messages "mind bombs"--effective salvos that provide a lasting image in the battle for public opinion. He soon realized how successful that first Amchitka voyage had been, and he tracked the success of Greenpeace's efforts less by a boat's place on the map or the mood of the crew and more by the number of mind bombs the group effectively delivered.

Weyler says trying to win the hearts of the public with facts rather than images is a losing proposition. Science is complicated and inexact, he explains, and the opposition will always try to sow doubt: "The numbers aren't declining as fast as we thought"; "There's no clear evidence that people will die."

Very cool analysis of their strategy of using strong images and media, which was a pioneering concept in social activism. I had no idea that the founder of Greenpeace was so strongly inspired by Marshall McLuhan. A picture like this (from the website of the Ruckus Society, mentioned in the article) is indeed worth a million words. Lots of strategy lessons in this article for all the wannabe activists out there.
Democrats take note.

More thoughts on this to come.
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