3 things PR professionals can learn from #BlackLivesMatter

3 things PR professionals can learn from #BlackLivesMatter

It has been three years since the murder of Trayvon Martin led to the creation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; today, the movement is still going strong.


After George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Martin, #BlackLivesMatter was tweeted by Patrisse Cullors. The hashtag spread almost immediately on Twitter, starting the online movement. Soon, the phrase prompted rallying in the streets; although a lot of good has been done, there are a few public relations problems with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.


Protestors holding an Occupy Wall Street banner mid-protest.

Occupy Wall Street had the momentum to create a big impact, but without a central leader the movement failed early. (current.org)

1. Have a PR professional.

In any movement, it is important to have a leader that can speak on the people’s behalf when the group is faced with a public relations nightmare. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has multiple women responsible for getting the movement started and using the power of the Internet to spread the word, but there is no clear leader. It is widely believed that the Occupy Wall Street movement failed because they had no leader; despite gaining so much attention and popularity, it was unknown what the movement wanted.


2. Be specific.

On the #BlackLivesMatter demands page, there are a list of what the movement desires. One of their demands is that all officers who were involved in the killing of black people while on duty in the last five years should be brought to justice. This request lacks detail in a few areas that would help clarify the justice  sought.


First of all, this doesn’t state whether they want officers that shot unarmed black people without killing them brought to justice, much like Thursday’s shooting. It also doesn’t say whether or not they want officers that killed black people while defending themselves put on trial. Being specific can better convey what you want.


3. Use the Internet as a resource.

In terms public relations, #BlackLivesMatter has done well in its use of the internet as a resource. In April, members of the movement posted that they wanted the retraction of a false story surrounding the #BlackLivesMatter group. They have also gained a large social media following, which has allowed them to reach thousands of people through multiple platforms. The internet is an important tool for public relations.


What are your thoughts on the #BlackLivesMatter movement? How do you think they are doing? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.

Devon Karbowski

Devon Karbowski graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2015. He received a BA in Writing Studies with an emphasis in Professional Writing and a minor in Philosophy. Currently, he is using his degree to pursue a career in freelance writing, proposal writing and social media management. The focal point of his MUI PR articles will involve public relations related topics.

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