Business Strategies Against Activists

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  • 0:41 Gaining Public Sentiment
  • 1:15 Using Grand Non-Market…
  • 2:19 Grassroots Efforts
  • 3:08 Media Relations & Advertising
  • 3:58 Building Coalitions
  • 4:34 Litigation
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
In this lesson, you will learn the strategies businesses use against activists including: grassroots efforts, gaining community public sentiment or being socially responsible, grand non-market strategies, news media relations and advocacy advertising, etc.


Businesses must decide on strategies to use to battle activists, who focus on specific social issues and work as advocates for special interest groups. The activists are the individuals who establish the ways in which the interest groups will accomplish their objectives. In achieving their goals, activists can be very disruptive to a company's operations.

In this lesson, you will learn the strategies that businesses use against activists, which include:

  • Gaining public sentiment
  • Using grand non-market strategies
  • Using grassroots efforts
  • Relying on news media relations and advocacy advertising
  • Building coalitions
  • Litigation

Gaining Public Sentiment

The first strategy corporations can use is to gain community public sentiment by proactively discovering any potential problems through issue management, which involves analyzing, researching, and monitoring public issues.

Fantastic Foods is an example of a company that practices social responsibility to its stakeholders. The company has multiple programs that provide environmental stewardship, employee support, and excellent customer feedback that results in a positive societal environment. The company tries to work with activists to ensure a socially responsible company.

Using Grand Non-Market Strategies

The activist process is to bring specific topics of concern to a company's attention. The way a company decides to react to the issues is through grand non-market strategies, such as donating, ignoring, opposing, or working with activists. Companies will not always choose the same grand non-market strategy when dealing with activists, as it depends on the situation. These are the key strategies and when they should be used:

  • Donating to activists is an excellent strategy for a company to select when they're trying to maintain a working relationship.
  • Ignore activists can be used as a strategy by businesses in hopes that by not offering any response the activists will disappear.
  • Oppose activists by having the company launch a defensive attack.
  • Negotiate with activists when they bring up legitimate claims and are powerful enough to cause significant issues for a company. This would allow companies to accommodate some of the activists' requests.

Grassroots Efforts

Businesses can utilize grassroots efforts that use stakeholders and peak or trade groups to garner support to protest against activists. This can be accomplished by having their supportive groups contact the government to protest against the regulations activists are requesting. Employees, suppliers, owners, and competitors are the types of stakeholders that can voice their opposition and appeal to legislators in order to weaken the activist's position.

In 2012, tobacco companies utilized grassroots support to fight against activists who wanted a law passed that would add a tax on cigarettes to pay for cancer research. The cigarette companies and their special interest groups spent $47 million to battle the activists' campaign, and the ballot did not pass.

New Media Relations and Advocacy Advertising

Businesses rely on the media to help provide a good corporate image and public relations. Unfortunately, activists can also tap into the media to birth negative campaigns against corporations. The result is that businesses have to hire public relation firms to provide media relations and advocacy advertising to help battle against any negativity.

Meat King is one of the biggest fast food restaurant chains in the country. One activist recently targeted the company with a report to show consumers how fast food companies were manipulating the public (namely children) into eating unhealthy food. Meat King quickly unleashed a publicity campaign to show that the company was supporting healthy eating habits with new menu items, such as salads.

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