cisler on Tue, 29 Sep 1998 17:21:35 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Re: Counterstrategies against online activism (The Shell case)

Congratulations to Eveline Lubbers! The "Counterstrategies" article was
excellent, due in part to Simon May's openness about his own operation at
Shell. In fact, the process of making your organization (NGO, govt. company,
university) more transparent will be seen as a 'tactic' by some and the only
option for survival by others. By transparent I mean that the inner workings
become more accessible to a large number of people (citizens, stockholders,
students, and perhaps consumers). Whether they are may not matter, if they
are perceived to be more open.

Two years ago I attended a conference of large corporate PR divisions, many
also running the 'community affairs' groups that make donations to
non-profits, arts groups, schools, sports teams, etc.  I was sort of
representing Apple, though my grant program was run out of the research
group with no ties to PR or marketing, but I shared the stage with Motorola,
SGI, and one other high tech company. I was talking about supporting
community networks.

The fellow from Motorola had the same position that Simon May has, and he
described his role (partly fashioned by himself, not in response to a major
PR war) as combing the Net for references to Motorola and answering Usenet
posts, etc.  At that time, a news story was circulating that showed that
people driving and talking on cellular phones were involved in accidents
about as much as people driving under the influence of alcohol.  The
Motorola rep. was able to track, capture, and print out the chatter about
this article and send it all to PR and legal.  His future usefulness to the
company was assured, at least for a few Net weeks.

I could tell that the audience was amazed. They saw this new position as
either an opportunity to expand their department or a burden because they
had a fixed budget and here was another brush fire (Internet activism)  they
were not ready to fight.

Book reference: Net Activisim: how citizens use the Internet. Ed Schwartz.
O'Reilly 1996.

Steve Cisler
4415 Tilbury Drive, San Jose, CA 95130
(408) 379 9076
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