By: Staff  Date: 01/15/2012 Category: | Animal Rights Extremism | Farm and Ranch Almanac |

A crisis management expert told the nation’s pork producers that animal rights activists won’t leave them alone if they act like victims and yield to demands for industry changes, according to a report by Rod Smith in the March 26, 2001, Feedstuffs Magazine. The following is a summary of that report.

Nick Nichols, chief executive officer of a Washington, DC, communications and crisis management group, told pork producers that activists’ attacks on companies, products and livelihoods “are not public relations problems; they are crises, and they require crisis management.” His remarks were made at a meeting of the National Pork Industry Forum, in Kissimmee, Florida.

Nichols said that the activists raise billions of dollars by creating victims, villains and vindicators. He said victims are vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, consumers, or animals, nature and the earth itself; villains are companies and producers, especially ones with deep pockets; and vindicators are activists who believe their way is the only, and right, way. The result? Activists and Luddites get notoriety that attracts contributions and funding; reporters get to write about controversy; lawyers get clients and contingency fees; legislators get to legislate and regulators get to regulate. “And,” Nichols said, “you get destroyed”

Attackers fight with emotion, using allegations, describing theoretical risks, scientific divisions, and politicized debate and companies and producers respond defensively with science and scientists. Nichols warned tat the situation has reached crisis proportions and that those under attack should react as if their survival is at stake, not with public relations feel-good strategies. The attackers don’t want to compromise, they want to win, he said.

Companies and producers under attack should respond by extolling product benefits that are personally relevant to consumers and demonstrating that attackers want to eliminate products and practices that society values. Companies and producers also need to gather information about attackers and move quickly with both defensive and offensive strategies. Messages should be based on science but still be emotional and messengers should be charismatic and credible. He recommended “protests against the protestors,” including filing lawsuits against them and using children, the elderly, and the earth as messengers.

Nichols said, “you have to want to win. You have to get in the trenches and fight.” Those who counsel capitulation are mistaken; the attackers won’t go away because they got what they wanted; they will simply return later with more demands.

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All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Strand |
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