#MeToo: The Successful Campaign Movement that Opened Doors for Survivors
By: Jadyn Sims
The #MeToo movement didn’t initially start as a public relations campaign. In a way, it still isn’t one. But in another way, it has all the key elements a PR campaign would have. The recently revamped #MeToo movement first began when Harvey Weinstein was being accused of sexual misconduct on many occasions through his work in the film industry. The phrase “me too” was coined by Tarana Burke, also the founder of the #MeToo organization. Actress Alyssa Milano reintroduced the phrase in 2017 as a hashtag to encourage other survivors to share their stories while also showing unity and support across multiple platforms in light of the Weinstein trial. When actresses such as Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan started to speak on their encounters, others joined in. Even though the movement has been around since 1997, a time where abuse and harassment weren’t openly discussed and addressed like it is today and social media didn’t exist, the movement has never been as big as it is now.
Me too, us too
In PR, whenever strategizing a campaign, the most important and first step is acknowledging the target audience. With the #MeToo movement, it’s not enough to say the target audience is women. The truth of the matter is while it was initially women coming forward and speaking up, “Me Too is not a women’s movement,” said Tarana Burke in an interview. “But men’s first role in this movement is as survivors.” With that in mind, the campaign is not targeting just women or just men. The audience is survivors. From everywhere. All survivors matter regardless of fame or fortune. The thing about this particular audience is it didn’t start out as a defined campaign. It was a natural finding. Almost as if the audience identified itself. Since this campaign was on the more authentic, natural end of the spectrum, this makes this one of the more genius forms of campaigns. Unplanned. It’s rare. An unforeseen campaign can enlighten people, brands and businesses to take a closer look at themselves, and from within. As if PR as a concept, an idea, an act, is working for itself.
What are you saying?
Now that an audience has been established, the next best thing to do is iterate a message. Sometimes a message can change over time. Without a message, a campaign might as well not exist. A message gives the campaign purpose. “What is being said, to who and why?” The movement was birthed in 1997. A lot has changed since then. While the mission hasn’t changed, messages are subject to change regarding outlying factors. At a time where people didn’t have such quick access to a multitude of information, a message would’ve been clear cut, maybe even simple. Now, when things are starting to be perceived in true colors by just about everyone, the message now can be a bit broader, more inclusive, but also more targeted. For #MeToo their up-to-date modern message, in addition to creating a safe space for survivors, this is also now a space that targets abusers and say enough is enough. Playing the defense and offense.
Measuring the Impact
How is success measured per campaign? It varies. One way to measure is to see how long the campaign stays relevant. #MeToo transcends time in a way that this topic always has and forever will be a relevant issue. #MeToo opened up doors for many survivors to speak up. In 2017, allegations started to emerge against R. Kelly. He was accused of a leading a “cult” full of women who performed and unwillingly partook in indescribable acts. Come 2019, the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” aired. Brie Miranda Bryant, the executive producer of the documentary, credited #MeToo for giving survivors a platform to speak and preparing people to listen to the stories. “Without those foundations, the world wouldn’t have been ready to hear the brave things these women had to talk about in Surviving R. Kelly. It started a global conversation,” said Bryant. When this campaign really gained momentum, this opened up a path for discussions to be held about not just harassment and abuse, but other social matters such as the pay equality and, overall, more female representation in all industries. Since the revamping of #MeToo, more women are being seen in male dominated roles such as directing or producing in Hollywood, being the head of all kinds of firms across the nation. With that being said, there’s no question about the relevance of #MeToo movement . It shadows everyday activities. As long as power struggles exist, so will #MeToo.
The #MeToo campaign initially started as a hashtag on Twitter and soon relaunched a movement that changed the course of history. When looking at campaigns and measuring their success, #MeToo hits all the marks. The use of social media by #MeToo really boosted the movement and it sparked a new way to campaign.
About the author: Jadyn Sims is a student at the University of Texas Mayborn school of Journalism studying journalism with a focus in public relations. She will graduate in December 2021 and aspires to work in government relations.
This material was written for and provided by AGENZ PR, a student-led PR firm specializing in matters of diversity, inclusion, and the Gen Z perspective. AGENZ teams are comprised of PR students from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism, all of whom are dedicated to providing clients with insightful and digitally innovative work products to enhance business practices. Students learn and excel by getting hands-on, professional experience in the public relations industry.