Was the national speech disguised as a press conference given by Wayne Lapierre on Friday really a mitigated PR disaster? Is it possible that after a week of silence and likely meetings with scores of media experts and pollsters that a well-funded Right Wing organization like the National Rifle Association would make such a PR blunder?
Public relations professionals reached by The Huffington Post said the timing of his message, which broke a week of silence in the wake of the tragic murder of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, could be an irredeemable mistake for the group.
“It was worse than if the NRA had not spoken at all,” said Gene Grabowski, executive vice president of Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based issues management firm that has worked with firearms manufacturers. "The same message about the culture in another time and place might have made sense, but in context of tragedy, it seemed mean-spirited, cold and misguided."
Grabowski also said the NRA made a mistake by remaining silent on its social media channels last week. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, the organization stopped activity on all of its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.
To believe that Wayne Lapierre, his organizations, and consultants did not understand how this speech would be characterized shows a level of unidirectional thinking that have allowed well-crafted messages to become a part of a new narrative. The NRA is at its most hated moment with the killing of some of America’s most precious, young innocent children.
The NRA knows that anything it says now will be listened to by the largest audience it has ever had. While everyone is now scared of the possibility of this random act occurring in any community, he introduces a solution favorable to his lobbying activities that will be given plausibility when the anxiety over this traumatic event subsides.
Make no mistake, that speech was well designed. It reminds everyone that there are legal violent games including one with the name “Kindergarten” in it. He reminds everyone of movies that make the killings at the elementary school seem like just another violent event in a violent world. He reminds everyone that what we deem precious and important is protected with guns including our President, our banks, our Congress, and much more. He then makes the callout. If we care about our children, should we not protect where they are most of their waking day?
There is no downside to his “press conference”. They are already experiencing their highest level of dislike. They are surrounded by a dysfunctional Congress and a scared population. The NRA remains in the driver’s seat lest those opposing their immoral stances think through various levels of indirection to fight them appropriately on all fronts. That no one has come out to state that we should take the British stance on guns where gun violence is almost non-existent, whether possible or not, means the NRA is still winning the long narrative.