How To Use Social Media as a Weapon Against Organizations

Tuesday, February 7th on Virtually Speaking Mike Stark and I discussed what we could learn from the SOPA fight and the Susan G Komen Debacle. Listen to the podcast by going to the BlogTalkRadio link Twitter promotional poster from the 1960s. #timewarp

There will be a billion pixels spilt on these stories that you can read elsewhere by scholars, experts and journalists. What I’m most interested in is what works/worked for the media activists out there.

  • How we can replicate this to fight the right?
    How can we press the advantage?
    Why the left will NOT press the advantage.
  • How will the Right defend against this in the future and who will they enlist to help them?

BTW, can anyone else see the fingerprints and style of Ari Fleischer all over Brinker’s media interviews and statements?

(Fleischer personally interviewed candidates for the position of “Senior Vice President for Communications and External Relations” it’s a safe bet that he would approve and suggest someone who mirrors his style.)

  • What steps will the PR experts at Ogilvy take to try to repair the brand?

The right has often taken tactics and methods used first by us, discredited them until they have time to become big in them (by throwing money and automating at them) and then using them to serve their agenda.

  • How can we defend against it when it is turned on us?

I’ve already seen several stories about the power of social media in breathless posts about the role of Twitter and Facebook in the Komen debacle. It reminded me of the early days of blogs and before that email campaigns.

I will point out one insight that I got after Mike asked me a question, “Why did the SOPA story work and the push for Net Neutrality go down the wonk hole?”

I wondered about this and why the overwhelming response on SGK’s action regarding Planned Parenthood. Part of it is because we on the left know how to respond to overreach. We aren’t as good going on the attack and creating outrage.

Some people have talked about keeping the pressure on SGK, doing oppo research on the board members and using it against them. I think keeping the pressure on is the right idea, but that’s the wrong approach.

If we started an oppo program the media (with the willing help of the MSM and their corporate backers) would start having to “balance” their stories and defend SGK.

There can be exposure, but not out and out attacks. At this point one of the best ways to put pressure on them is by helping them rip themselves apart from inside. Find and expose the people inside who didn’t agree with the board. Show the world how good people inside fought the board. Some resigned. The board will have to attack “themselves” vs. attacking us for attacking them.

After I made an impact on KSFO and got dozens of advertisers to leave, I backed off exposing them in public. I started letting their new parent company management and board know what the hosts who “apologized” were still doing to the brand. I showed them the sexism, bigotry and continuous violent rhetoric that was still coming out of them. I also enlisted the State Department, the Iraq Embassy staff and the internal news staff at ABC to drive a wedge between the hosts and management. I showed ABC Radio management and journalists how Lee Rodgers was attacking them on the air. “Does it bother you that Rodgers is calling your staff liars, Presidential butt kissers and dopes?”

ABC White House Correspondent and Presidential butt kisser Ann Compton reports.”
— Lee Rodgers, KSFO/ABC Radio host on Thursday, March 26, 2009 6:43 am (Audio link)

This turned their anger on Rodgers, not me. Rodgers was an expensive embarrassment who would not apologize to anyone for anything, so I helped the management see that in regards to their own brand.

I let the State Department, and the Iraq ambassador shopping for an embassy in SF, know that the KSFO morning host was calling for the genocide of the Iraq people while he was in town. I copied the radio station management. I wanted to create an “international incident” based on his comments, and I did.

Rodgers got fired. He blamed the Muslims and a management that listened to them. How do you think the management and Muslims found out about his comments? They don’t listen to the show.

I like to fight the right and force an error or overreaction on their part because then I’m the victim. The left knows how to support victims, but we don’t know how to support our warriors. I rarely get institutional support because attacking the right isn’t really in any groups’ mission statement. Even Media Matters is about, “correcting misinformation”

Not, “defunding and crushing right-wing media like a bug.”

I can’t count how many times I’ve suggested aggressive strategies to groups that would not only expose and defund the right but could elicit an over reaction from them. They don’t like it. They don’t want to fund it. It’s scary, believe me, it’s no fun to be the focus of right wing heat, but what happens is that people will mostly support you after you are attacked. Planned Parenthood got a ton of money and support from this Susan G. Komen story. The right constantly used attacks on them to raise money. “Those liberals are picking on us! Send money!”

The right understands this. Even when they are the bully and doing the attacking they still like to pretend to be “the real victims”. After KSFO/ABC Radio/Disney had my blog shut down the hosts there whined about how we were trying to shut them up. They whined for three hours in one show. But whose blog was shut down? Mine. They were all still on the air. And that take me to another point.



A big part of my strategy going after the hosts at KSFO, Michael Savage and Glenn Beck was to show the corporate sponsors these people are Bad For Your Brand. They will cost your corporation money, they will not make you money.

My friend Sara Robinson, now a senior editor at Alternet, agrees with me.

Rather than us attack Komen, we should simply be pointing out to people who run large enterprises that right-wing ideologues are unstable and can’t be trusted to put the larger interests of the firm ahead of their own personal agendas. If you put them in positions of power, you’ll have to watch them every minute so they don’t run your company into the ditch. They don’t have the detachment and reasonableness required for business — and they don’t give a good goddamn what they’re doing to your assets when they get on these holy-roller tears — so it’s just too risky to trust them.”

You know why Glenn Beck got fired even when he got good ratings on Fox? Because I pointed out to the shareholders he wasn’t making them the kind of money he should have.

(See my post, Rupert and Me, where I called up Rupert during the NewsCorp quarterly financial call and asked him how long he was going to be subsidizing Beck.)

The focus to investors was on the negative financial impact of this nut. I wanted the institutional investors to know about it, so I talked to them in a language they understand. The bottom line.

“…corporations (both for- and non-profit) [need] to learn that putting right-wing ideologues into places of power is a risky, dangerous thing to do. It Does Not Pay, and no board that takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously should ever consider it.


Cross posted at FireDogLake


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