Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: How Will The Public React?

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in earnest on September 17, 2011 as an anti-corporate, anti-banking demonstration. The ostensible purpose of the Occupy Wall Street movement is to redistribute wealth. Participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are recent college graduates, others are unemployed individuals. Still more are anti-government and/or anti-capitalist activists.


The Occupy Wall Street movement was initiated when a Canadian anti-consumerist publiction, AdBusters, registered the domain "" on June 9, 2011. Four days later on June 13, AdBusters began to promote an assembly of peaceful protesters on Wall Street in Manhattan.

The movement began getting Internet traction and by August 23, 2011, the hacktivist group "Anonymous" endorsed the movement.
Since that time, labor unions, leftist activists and the reinvented organization ACORN clandestinely started funneling money into the movement. Some protesters actually are paid a stipend to attend.


The Occupy Wall Street movement spread to other cities as the Manhattan protesters began to gather. To date, the various Occupy Wall Street only has one clear, common thread: the reorganization of the American system. However, there is no one "voice". This makes the movement's goals disparate and anecdotal.

Although there is no one resounding message, there are elements of anti-semitism, some of which have appeared in both Internet and television videos. Other messages are that of anti-corporatism, anti-capitalism, anti-war and anti-establishment. Signs and placards displayed by demonstrators taut tax reform, wealth redistribution, displeasure with corporations and government.

The lone thread that is repeated throughout each occupied cities is the "99%". This is supposed to represent the "99%" of citizens set apart for the "1%". Or those who are the majority. However, the message behind the percentage often changes from individual to individual and city to city.

Public Relations:

As a matter of public relations, Occupy Wall Street has had a net-negative affect on the movement itself, rather than its targets. According to recent polling Americans are split on the movement. A CBS News/New York Times poll found that 43% of the public agreed with the sentiment of Occupy Wall Street. In the same poll, 27% of respondents did not agree with Occupy Wall Street. And a full 30% replied they "don't know" if Occupy Wall Street reflected their views. Although the poll's sample included 1,650 respondents, it was a measure of "all adults" and not "likely voters". To spite the movement's call for government intervention, the same CBS News/New York Times poll found 60% of Americans do not trust the government.

Banks and other financial institutions have recently come under fire for not only lending practices but fee increases. Banks claim as a result of the Dodd-Frank bill limiting so-called "swipe fees", revenues had to be made up elsewhere. Although the largest banks in the nation have been the subject of media scrutiny, their customer base remains high. The whole situation has put the banks under "the microscope". Employing a PR Consultancy is essential now more than ever. Though the Occupy Wall Street movement has not adversely affected the business of the corporations it has affected the trust the public places in these old and established institutions.

Photo: Thanks to j-No on Flickr.

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