30 years ago, Filipinos across the country grasped each other on the arm, walked the streets of EDSA, and removed a dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. It was four long, momentous days, filled with continuous demonstrations, sleepless nights, and fetid, sweat-stained shirts. Those that lived through those times will never forget them.
However, many have grown into adulthood without seeing EDSA for themselves. And even more, who are children today, may not fully appreciate what EDSA means. While the event is still sharp in our memories, we must pass on all its lessons in all its aspects, including what it demonstrated for PR.
Don’t be Afraid to Speak Up
EDSA was won because people were not afraid to speak of the issues – even in the face of death. The outrage spread as well as the demand to step down. In the field of PR, people and brands need to speak up in front of the media, enemies, and even a hostile public. Never be afraid because facing the hordes is the first step to converting them. Just like the protestors that stared down the military and gave them flowers.
Pick the Right Spokesperson
The selection of a brand ambassador or advocate can be game-changing. EDSA chose the widowed Corazon Aquino to speak in front of the crowds. The meek woman could share the loss of her husband Ninoy, like no other can. She swayed the people to join the revolution. In the same vein, your brand ambassador should be carefully chosen to represent your message to the public.
Branding is not just a logo. It’s the images, emotions, and messages that unite a campaign. In EDSA people wore yellow, raised the V sign, and spoke of a freedom lost in their shouts and songs. The branding was effective, identifying and attracting sympathizers, which encompassed the country. Effective branding does the same, gathering people under a single banner.
The People Decide
PR relates to the people because the public is the final arbitrator of success of a product or service. They could reject or accept anything. During EDSA, they rejected a dictator and chose to once again reinstall democracy. Despite the manipulations, the lies, or the threats, Filipinos follow the truth.
A great PR campaign inspires people to action. EDSA inspired a nation to clamor for freedom. But the Philippines wasn’t the only nation it affected, stirring movements in other countries. A good PR campaign isn’t easy or quick; EDSA can be said to be the culmination of decades of effort. But with effort and imagination, it can shake the world.
EDSA was a unique event. It used public relations to its fullest for the noblest of ends: Philippine freedom and democracy.