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How to Lose Friends and Influence Counter Protests

Fluffy afternoon clouds

See Texas state house protests.

There seems to be a tempest in a teapot in the Texas the past few weeks.  A successful filibuster in the Texas state senate ast week prevented the passage of SB5, even thought it had enough votes to pass on its own merits. A new proposal was drafteted and SB1′s key points are as follows:

  • Protects an unborn child rights earlier at 5 months instead of 6 months.
  • Raises the standard of care requirements at abortion facilities to be the same as ambulatory surgical centers, which provide cataract surgery, ear tubes, and carpal tunnel surgery, all of which have less risk of hemorrhaging than an induced abortion.
  • Raises the standard of care requirement for physicians that provide abortion services by requiring that these physicians have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles. Admitting privileges are a general quality indicator of peer review and competence for physicians. All current abortion facilities in Texas are within 30 miles of a secular hospital.  More than half of known abortion providers in Texas already have admitting privileges.
  • Ensures that the standard of care for the use of Ru-486, also known as Mifepristone, is within FDA requirements and the guidelines of the American Congress of OB/Gyns. This means you must receive both doses of the drug at a safe abortion facility and follow up within 14 days of the last dose. It also means you can not use, this drug after 7 weeks.
  • This bill DOES NOT close down abortion facilities, shut down women’s health clinics, or cut women’s health services.

Measured, balanced and safe for women. Far less restrictive than our European counterparts.

Since the filibuster erupted, there have been two dueling sides camped out at the Texas State House.  I’ve been watching closely to see how both sides would present their case within the context of a public protest.  The following are my observations on the presentation and messaging of both sides and how this will reverberatein the Texas state house and across the nation.

The pro life movement galvanized its forces after the filibuster and asking them to don blue shirts.  A good choice in color as blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed.  They pro life supporters assembled to pray, sing Amazing Grace, present articulate and passionate testimonies. I did not spot on obsenitites on any sign held by them or their children – the messages were compelling and on point.

The predominate Twitter hashtag used by the prolife crowd #Stand4Life has been very active the past few weeks. This hashtag has trended nationally during this debate in Texas.

What I can observe is the pro-life side has a cohesive positive message paired with likeable supporters who consistently present compelling counter reasoning to the abortion on demand supporters.  In truth, this SB5 has the votes to pass in the Senate. It passed out the Texas House with four more votes than the preceeding bill. This shift in votes is a telling sign that pro life messaging is working.

The counter protesters are those supporting abortion on demand and aim to stop SB5 in the senate.   Their color choice is orange, a contrasting color to blue.  So far, supporters have donned bloody butcher aprons, let children hold signs with abusive language, and dragged grumpy cat into this fray. They sporatically break into chants of  ‘Hail Satan‘ around the capitol building. Yes, there have been arrests within the orange division.

Oh yes, the hail satan meme has its own hashtag on Twitter aptly named #hailsatan and has been disavowed by those who practice satanism.

From a marketing and messaging perspective, all I can see is a flaming train wreck. I did not embed the images from the orange crowd because they are not safe for work or when children, friends and family are around.  This is a huge problem if the images you are presenting have to be shielded from different age and social groups. The message being broadcast needs to be cast as broadly as possible, the images breaking the surface are not ones you can share widely.

Just when I thought this mess could not get worse. It did. Enter the idea of #BroChoice.  @Popehat tweeted exactly what I was thinking when I first came across this meme on Twitter.

This final image represents to me what flushing your message down the toilet looks like.

SB5 will pass but the resounding change will be in the public perception of both sides of this issue. I like vibrant debates on issues. In this case there is a clear winner from a marketing/messaging standpoint – Life wins in Texas.

Beguiling blue

UPDATE: 7/13/2013 – Love wins.  By a vote of 19 to 11 HB2 is finally passed.

What are your thoughts on the messaging strategies employed by both sides? Do you feel their message has been adequately conveyed to the public?

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5 responses to “How to Lose Friends and Influence Counter Protests

  1. Trevor Hilton

    Psalm 139:13
    13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Chanting “Hail Satan” certainly doesn’t do one’s image any good. Employing mob rule to stop the democratic process doesn’t help a whole lot.
    I read that “BroChoice” article. I thought perhaps it was written by Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen (who is a sad cause ‘cuz I like his movies); people who think sex is a sport rather than the ultimate expression of love that God intended for it to be

  2. p mike

    messaging strategies: Life side is losing the press battle. I’m in Austin, have yet to hear your points in the news. All I hear is (1) most of the abortion providers are going to shut down because they are too far from hospitals, (2) this is going to open hospitals to law suits, (3) poor people are going to die in back alley operations, oh yeah, and (4) women are going to buy abortion pills in border-town flea markets. Bloomberg had an odd article where a woman talked about whether she’d give up her phone to buy birth control (apparently she wouldn’t), so obviously she needed the abortion option.

    • Tania

      p mike – Thanks for providing the local perspective.

      You certainly are in the bubble of Austin (love SXSW!) and I’m far enough away in always sunny Philadelphia to get a good perspective of what is being broadcast outside of Austin from both sides. I have to agree there is a mountain of odd information floating about. It is my hope this post clears the confusion instead of adding to it.

  3. says:

    I’m sure the local media, just like the national media, ignored the #HailSatan and the blasphemy of the “pro-choice” protesters. All that, as well as the threats of violence yesterday, doesn’t translate to a winning strategy, especially if the Dems think they can win over Texas. Libs often forget that Austin is basically an island of liberal insanity in the middle of Texas. Shame because it is a beautiful area, enjoyed living there twice but could never live there again.

    • Tania

      National media is becoming more and more irrelevant with the rise of social media. It also doesn’t help when the MSM produces questionable content consistently.

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