“I aimed at the public’s heart, and … hit it in the stomach.”
~ Upton Sinclair, American socialist and novelist
Sinclair was disappointed at the public’s reaction to his 1904 novel The Jungle, about Chicago’s meatpacking yards. Instead of being alarmed by the deplorable conditions of the workers, the public fixated on the way food was processed, and Congress responded by passing pure food and drug laws.
By contrast, Mark Bittman, a modern food guru, prominent author and frequent columnist for the New York Times, has a simple mantra: Don’t count on Big Food or their government overseers to protect you, because they won’t. Seize the power yourself, or you will lose.
Bittman is an archetype. His solution: Stop eating “hyperprocessed” foods. That’ll get rid of most of your intake of sugar and chemicals. Eat more fresh plants. Want to cook your own food, too? That’s gravy.
This makes Bittman someone the food industry can hate and Michelle Obama might embrace.
But he doesn’t inhabit the fringe. Not anymore.
The same is true of other concepts that were once easily dismissed. Like a long-ago grammar school teacher who, when asked by a precocious student if dumping sewage into the oceans wouldn’t eventually fill them up, replied, “Oh no. They’re too big.”
Or those who a few decades ago were voices in the wilderness when they warned pollution was poisoning the planet and changing climate patterns. Love Canal settled the “poisoned earth” issue, and the concept of climate change now has the upper hand even if the science is not fully settled.
Beliefs change as we become aware of new evidence or our sense of right and wrong evolves. But change usually comes slowly.
Not so when working with the media on a fast-breaking story. The ground shifts constantly and quickly. You must expect the worst. If it comes, you’ll be ready. If it doesn’t, you’ll be relieved.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Preparation & Training. You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.
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