People Power PR: Recasting Activists as Practitioners in Turkey’s Gezi Park Resistance


This paper examines the use of public relations tactics (traditionally associated with corporations) by activists and protesters during the 2013 Gezi Park uprising in Turkey. The author traveled to Istanbul in August 2013 and conducted interviews with mainstream and alternative journalists covering the unrest, as well as protesters and academics involved in the Gezi Park occupation and the nationwide demonstrations that followed the crackdown against occupiers by Turkish police. Combining firsthand interviews, observation and research, the author concludes that activists have employed key components of successful public relations campaigns – controlled media, uncontrolled media and events – to advance their cause and forge networks of communication that circumvent government control and undermine the authority of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This conclusion works from the premise of Holladay and Coombs that the history of public relations has been distorted by an emphasis on corporate methods and outcomes. Only when theorists recast activism from the fringes of public relations to its center can they begin to examine how communication strategies function when they are not focused on consumption and production. This paper is an attempt to take a step in that direction, using the 2013 Turkish uprising as an example of how technology and social media have created a means for activists to circumvent mainstream media and create and maintain a national movement. The author examines how Turkish activists have expressed themselves in creative ways and utilized communication to promote their cause and show solidarity with protesters who have been killed

Author Information
Maria Lynn McLeod, Western Washington University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2014
Stream: Advertising

This paper is part of the EuroMedia2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon