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Posts Tagged ‘NRA’

NRA Wants Journos to Stop Using the Word ‘Shooter’ to Describe Shooters

Here’s an unusual look at media relations efforts from an organization that uses every opportunity to brand “the media” as its enemy.

You might think that the NRA, as the nation’s largest gun owner advocacy organization, would have issued some sort of response to the latest act committed by a crazy guy with a gun. Instead, we have this piece of communications work bemoaning journalists’ supposed insistence on providing meat for their frothing-at-the-mouth anti-gun base by insisting on referring to people who kill other people with guns as “shooters” rather than “murderers.”

It’s an odd semantic complaint that reveals more than a bit of the organization’s underlying strategy: every report not created internally by the NRA itself is not to be trusted.

It’s almost like the org’s op-ed contributor is anticipating the ways in which various journalists will describe the next mass shooting and telling his listeners to ignore it as propaganda (not that he created this segment to “support a cause”).

It’s true that we may not be the world’s most receptive audience, but the NRA has a vested long-term interest in convincing the majority of Americans that its members are not the paranoid, trigger-happy caricatures the “media” seems so desperate to lead us to believe they are (according to the NRA itself).

We’re not 100% sure that this is the best way to go about it.

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NRA Pushes Back Against the ‘Pop-Tart’ / Toy Gun Bill. Really.

poptart

And then, little Johnny, tell the principal to “Stick-em Up.” 

It’s no secret that America is an overly litigious society consumed with ambulance chaser commercials and the threats of legal beagles over little-to-nothing. We’ve had more than our fair share amount of ridiculous lawsuits, proving that lawyers will shill for anything — specifically, a big check.

To wit, the Florida affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA) has Pop-Tarts and the second Amendment on its mind as it hollers at its pool of lobbyists and lawyers on the speed dial. In that order. How? You’re going to love this.

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Major Media Companies to Launch ‘Educational Campaign’ on Violent Content

Joe Biden In the wake of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook, quite a few national personalities and organizations like the NRA tried to place blame on the nebulous “media”, which supposedly encourages such horrific acts through its glorification of a “culture of violence” in movies, TV shows and video games.

Now representatives and lobbying groups representing major media companies have vowed to take initiative, creating a “nationwide educational campaign” designed to reassure skeptical parents and fulfill a promise made to VP Joe Biden that they would “be part of the solution to curb gun violence.”

Details of the campaign are scarce at the moment, but it will include TV PSA spots, social media initiatives and a relaunch of the sites TVBoss and FilmRatings. The larger point is to remind parents that ratings systems are there to give them a choice regarding their children’s media exposure and that they can use tools provided by the industry to assert greater control over what their kids watch. Participants include the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Theatre Owners, the American Cable Association (ACA) and member companies.

Will this campaign affect the public debate? Will it make use of related research? We don’t know–but it should be interesting. We’ll follow closely.

Most Americans Disagree with NRA But Still Believe It ‘Represents Their Views’

National Rifle AssociationA Quinnipac poll released this morning serves as evidence of a forceful PR/advocacy/political lobbying campaign’s ability to shape public perceptions of a brand. In short, a majority of Americans say that the National Rifle Association “represents their views” on gun control issues despite disagreeing with some of the organization’s most fundamental positions. What’s going on here?

Key points:

  • The NRA recently came out against proposed legislation that would require universal background checks for all individuals looking to purchase weapons in any setting.
  • This is a messaging shift for the organization, which once strongly supported these checks but now claims they would lead to a “national gun registry” and eventually empower a “tyrannical” government to tax and even confiscate weapons from legal gun owners.
  • The Quinnipac poll finds that an overwhelming 92% of Americans support stronger universal background checks.
  • A majority of the public also supports a proposed ban on the sale of assault weapons and a ban on the sale of “high capacity” magazines (the NRA very strongly opposes both of these restrictions).
  • And yet, when it comes to gun control, the public also believes that the NRA better reflects their own views than President Obama (46% to 43%).

It would appear that the public is confused about exactly what the NRA is–and the policies it advocates.

What conclusions can PR strategists draw from this survey?

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NRA Outreach Strategy Caters to Younger Audiences

We recently wondered about some of the NRA‘s throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks PR strategies, from the ad focusing on President Obama‘s daughters to the extremely misguided decision to release a video game for kids right after blaming video games for gun violence that resulted in the deaths of 20 young children.

This weekend brought a New York Times report on the organization’s ongoing efforts to promote “recreational shooting” to younger audiences via assorted PR initatives and partnerships. While most would assume that the Times and the NRA are not exactly best buds, this report was less a hit piece than a PR strategy review.

In short, the NRA needs to ensure the continued growth of its membership, and in order to do that the organization works to find ways to make gun culture more appealing to young people in the interest of “recruiting and retaining” teen hunters and target shooters. Makes sense, right? Here’s the challenge: “introducing minors to activities that involve products they cannot legally buy and that require a high level of maturity.”

We know how tough it can be to make products appealing when members of your target audience can’t legally own them…

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New NRA Ad Focuses on Obama Daughters

We don’t want to wade too far into the politics of the contentious gun control debate, but from a PR perspective we have to say: we really don’t get the NRA.

First, the organization’s spokesman blamed video games (many of which are directly supported by gun manufacturers) and movies for mass shootings and proposed armed guards at every American school right before releasing a video game for kids. Now, as President Obama prepares to unveil some proposals regarding tighter regulation of illegal gun sales, more intensive background check requirements, and a renewal of the “assault weapons” ban that will never pass the current Congress, the NRA chose to issue an ad that indirectly attacks the president’s two daughters.

The ad asserts that Obama is an “elitist hypocrite” because his daughters have armed Secret Service guards while he opposes the idea of placing a man with a gun in every primary, elementary, and high school in this country (different polls tell different stories about Americans’ opinions on that proposal, but most clearly support tougher gun laws). The president and every member of his family may receive more death threats than anyone else in the US (as do most presidents), but that can’t mitigate the fact that he thinks his kids are “more important than yours.”

Here’s the logic behind it:

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NRA Chooses Worst Possible Time to Release ‘Target Practice’ App for Kids

Hunting, like public relations, is all about timing. So it’s utterly inconceivable that the NRA has decided that now, as the country is still bereaved, shocked and confused about a spate of unfathomable mass shootings from Colorado to Connecticut, is a good time to release its Target Practice app, which is tailored for gun enthusiasts ages four and up.

Yes, four and up.

The politics of the gun debate aside, we’re perplexed by this app release. The NRA has the resources to employ the best in the PR business, yet this decision is a good example of everything a brand shouldn’t do when navigating a deeply emotional moment for the public (and attempting to emerge with its reputation intact).

The release is poorly timed, insensitive and completely tone deaf to the ways millions of people in America and beyond feel about guns–especially guns and children. We’ve all become far too familiar with the violence, the wasteful loss of innocent life, and the image of individuals with assault rifles marching down the halls of an elementary school.

So what, possibly, could have led the NRA to make such an inexplicable decision? We can only guess that a discussion regarding the timing of this app release occurred in some conference room in some office building in some alternate reality. Perhaps the individuals in this meeting raised these very relevant PR questions:

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Gabby Giffords Starts ‘Responsible Solutions’ Gun Control Initiative

Former Arizona Representative Gabby GiffordsWe’ve recently posted on the PR components of our nation’s latest debate over gun control. Topics include the NRA‘s media strategies and a new campaign from Michael Bloomberg‘s advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which made waves with a viral video featuring A-list celebrities voicing support for the group’s “DemandAPlan” initiative.

Today brings news of another related campaign, this one created by the American politician who has the most direct experience with real-world gun violence. Exactly two years ago, former Arizona representative Gabriel “Gabby” Giffords was shot in the head by a mentally unstable individual who also killed six bystanders and wounded 12 others.

Giffords’s group, called Americans for Responsible Solutions, officially launched this morning with a web page and a USA Today op-ed. ARS hasn’t outlined many specific proposals, but its stated goal is to “launch a national dialogue and raise funds to counter influence of the gun lobby” in order to encourage Congress to pass relevant laws.

Like all things related to gun control, this initiative won’t advance without controversy: a Connecticut politician already took to her Facebook page to decry a recent visit by Giffords and her former astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, to family members of Sandy Hook shooting victims.

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NRA, Gun Makers Promote Violent Games Too

Medal of Honor Electronic ArtsConfession: we’re glad that our Christmas vacation started right before the NRA‘s now-infamous December 21 press conference addressing the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. While thousands of passionate NRA supporters undoubtedly agreed with everything said that day, quite a few PR pros called it a “total disaster” and suggested that spokesman Wayne LaPierre probably should have stayed quiet.

The general idea conveyed at the event: guns and their makers aren’t to blame for gun violence. The real bad guys are “the media”, those ninnies who think elementary schools should be “gun-free zones” and, of course, the makers of “vicious, violent” video games.

We know you’ll be absolutely shocked by the latest revelation in this twisted story, but subsequent research reveals that the NRA has a very…complicated relationship with the companies that make millions on first-person “shooter” games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor–and that these game makers have long nurtured a “mutually beneficial marketing relationship” with the very industry represented by the NRA.

We never would have guessed…

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NRA’s Media Team Goes Silent After Newtown Tragedy

National Rifle AssociationFriday’s horrific violence in Newtown, Connecticut, understandably dominated every corner of the American media this weekend.

Many citizens (most prominently President Obama) spoke of taking every available step to prevent similar shootings in the future while others warned against politicizing the tragedy. Quite a few Americans also had energetic debates about gun control, both online and off. Even West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who built a campaign around disagreeing with his party’s leaders on gun rights, suggested that the nation must now have a “sensible” dialogue on gun control.

Nearly every business and organization in the country, from The National School Board to a group representing the families of Virginia Tech shooting victims, made some sort of official statement. Yet the nonprofit at the center of America’s relationship with guns was conspicuously silent: The National Rifle Association has not released an official statement or tweet since the tragedy, and its Facebook page is no longer visible today. While officials at both the NRA and Facebook have not responded to requests for comment, bloggers at TechCrunch speculated that the group took its page offline in order to “avoid hosting flame wars” between commentors on opposing sides of the gun control issue. Knowing the nature of online debates as well as we do, we think that was a very good idea.

We sympathize with the NRA’s position from a PR perspective:

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