PSAT for 1-17-12: Time to put pressure where it hurts

For the past few years I’ve been trying pretty much single-handedly to goad people into a boycott of Microsoft, WalMart, and other corporations behind the attack on public education. Three years ago, I publicly vowed to stop using the Microsoft operating system, and I did. The bottom point under Take Action on the right hand side of this site urging the boycott has been there for at least a year.

So far, Microsoft and WalMart seem to be doing pretty well without me.

Boycotts are tough. Maybe impossible on this scale.

So, more recently, I’ve been zeroing in on a related idea that may be a more effective, easier way to challenge the power of what Diane Ravitch calls the Billionaire Boys Club.

Sticking those school reform vultures right in their corporate image. It’s their Achilles heel. 

A business’s corporate image  is its overall reputation, the way its activities, products or services are perceived by their customers, shareholders, the financial community, and the general public. Corporations want the public to believe that they are good citizens. The resources companies budget for charitable activities are considered a good and even necessary investment. They know that consumers often consider the environmental and social image of firms in making their purchasing decisions. So, one of the key components of any marketing strategy is controlling the corporation’s image, its message and the fragile corporate personality that keeps its ideal customers choosing you.

The key word here is fragile, as in this warning from a marketing blogger:

Corporate image can be quite fragile. It requires constant maintenance, and any threat against it should be dealt with as swiftly as possible. Because people have a tendency to remember the bad more vividly than the good, destroying a reputation is far easier than repairing it.

Fragile. Yes, I like the sound of that.

Another expert writes:

In the past, marketing departments and corporate communication departments kept these messages very controlled. Now, blogging, tweeting and wikipedia entries and independent review sites can derail your positioning before you’ve had the first cup of coffee.

Going back to the quote from Paul D’Amato about speaking truth to power in my blog yesterday – “The problem is that power already knows the truth, they just don’t care because they’re power” – yes, they have power, and no, they don’t care about the truth, but they do care about their FRAGILE corporate image.

That’s where we have to attack them.

Of course, we can choose a target and picket, like PURE did years ago with Walgreen’s when they spent money to defeat the Fair School Funding amendment in Illinois. We complained that Walgreen’s wanted us to buy our children’s school supplies from them but didn’t want to pay their fair share for education. We actually got the schools open with that action. The old GEM coalition went after Walgreen’s and McDonald’s in 2009 to protest their support for Renaissance 2010, and got some good publicity.

But even without picketing, we can begin to chip away at that fragile corporate image. We can blog and tweet about the people and corporations behind the attack on public education. Groups like PURE and PAA can also coordinate letters to various corporations implicated in the attack, and collect and disseminate the reality behind the corporate image – and the personal image – of those who are hurting public education and our children. I’m talking about Bill Gates’ image as a great, big-hearted do-gooder. I’m talking about Penny Pritzker’s image as a pillar of the community and Friend of Barack. I’m talking about the others behind the attack – United Way. Eli Broad. Robin Steans. BP. Ford. Hewlett. Philip Anschutz. The Koch brothers. Searle Freedom Trust. It goes on and on.

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday for today, why not go to the I Hate Microsoft Facebook page and post something you know about Bill Gates’ attack on public education (I just did).

More to come.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.

Support PURE!
About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.