Activism is an increasing challenge for clients across all sectors, partly driven by the rise of social media which empowers interest groups with the ability to mobilise and deliver impactful campaigns very rapidly. We work with our clients both to work with activist groups to find areas of common interest, and also to manage unwanted, and frequently unfair or untruthful, attention that requires careful management.
A global animal pharmaceutical company was prominently named in an ongoing activist campaign against an industry practice. The activist groups solely targeted the client, despite the presence of other industry actors, and misrepresented company practice in a viral online campaign. The campaign spread across social media, some European media and reached European Parliament members.
DRD conducted fact-finding within the company to better understand the industry practice and to create briefing material that did not use technical jargon. DRD prepared an engagement strategy with the key influential and moderate activist groups, in order to promote an informed dialogue on the issue. This included working with the industry body to ensure alignment and support on this issue. DRD helped the client to prepare for meetings with activists through rigorous presentation and Q&A training. Where more radical activist groups continued to spread false information about the company, DRD worked with lawyers to require them to remove or correct erroneous material and to prevent pickup in the media.
As a result, the client formed trusted relationships with moderate activist groups and committed to working together in future to promote conversation around how to improve industry practice. All remaining false material relating to the client was removed from online campaign material.