By Tom Gresham
MANDEVILLE, LA –-(Ammoland.com)- I got an email from a listener who really took exception to my idea that if you want to affect public opinion about open carry, you should “dress good.” That is, dress in a way that doesn't cause people to form negative opinions.
Here's part of his email to me:
“Tell me again what a Good Person looks like. Are you and your guests Good People? After all I just cannot see you through the radio or podcast.
“That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life. It sounded like some Liberal / Democrat / Progressive / Communist Leftwing radio station that I was listening to.”
“It's all about context.”
Open carry demonstrations are performances. Nothing less. They are done to elicit a response. They are, in effect, public relations “stunts.” I don't use the word stunts in a negative way. The idea is to move public opinion.
Therefore, as with any public relations effort, or any performance, attention to details can make or break the performance.
If you want the public to come away with the impression that good people carry guns openly (a good goal, by the way), it's worthwhile, I think, to make sure that the performers appear (in behavior, in build, in dress, etc.) in such a way that they are viewed favorably.
In the context of a performance, I submit that wearing ragged military-looking clothes, wearing nasty T-shirts, and (unfortunately) selecting (or not selecting, actually) performers who are 150 pounds overweight, wearing boonie caps, does not work toward the desired result.
If you were the casting director for this performance, is this who you would choose? Is this how you would dress them?
It actually has nothing to do with whether a person is good or not. It is all about playing to the prejudices, perceptions, and biases of the public. In sales, and in politics, perception really is reality. If the public perceives open carry activists to be slobs, or goofballs, or homeless, or nut jobs — based on how they look — then we have failed at the public relations effort. If, however, they see well-dressed (slacks or jeans and tucked-in polo shirts??) men, the reaction, and the perception, is different.
We can shout to the heavens that it should not be this way, and when we are done, things will still be the same.
Perception really is reality. The job is to change perception. If you don't understand how you are being perceived, you have no business being involved in public relations. Open carry demonstrations are, in fact, public relations performances.
Hope that helps explain what I was talking about.”
About:In its 18th year of national syndication, Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio airs live on Sundays from 2PM-5PM Eastern, and runs on more than 135 stations, plus on XM (Ch. 165) Satellite Radio. All Gun Talk shows can be downloaded as podcasts at http://www.guntalk.libsyn.com and Apple iTunes, or through one of the available Apps: the Gun Talk iPhone App, the Blackberry Podcast App, and the Gun Talk App for Android on Amazon. The Gun Talk Minute on XM also airs on XM 165, 166, 168 and Fox Sports every day throughout the week. More information is available at www.guntalk.com.