A CALL FROM THE WILDERNESS
THE SECRET POLITICAL ISSUE, PART 2
NOVEMBER 10, 2010. Millions of advocates of health freedom see that no major political candidate, with one or two exceptions, voices their concerns or stands up for their right to improve their health by any and all self-chosen methods.
To understand the landscape in which this deafening silence continues, we need to realize that the one industry which could and should make a difference—the nutritional supplement sector—is dominated by ostriches.
Once a powerful voice for health freedom, the industry has stepped back into the shadows. It nurtures the illusion that it is safe from government intervention. It even supposes it has sufficient allies within the government to stave off attacks by the FDA.
Since 1993, I have been calling for the creation of a powerful “PR wing” funded by nutritional companies. This group would dedicate itself to obtaining ongoing media coverage, showing that nutrition scores many victories in preserving and expanding health, that nutrition is a brilliant success.
At first glance, this may not seem very important. But, in fact, it is THE vital way to turn public, media, and political opinion to the side of nutrition.
The FDA and other government bodies see no reason to curtail their attacks on nutritional supplements if the media aren’t even covering the issue.
Every PR campaign works toward a tipping point, where the very idea of opposing its goals is politically suicidal.
If you don’t understand that, you know nothing about PR.
And what is a campaign? Is it a one-time promotion? Is it a vaguely flailing effort to marshal support? Is it a token outreach? For amateurs, perhaps. For dreamers.
But the reality is far different. A campaign is a well-funded, sustained, and highly organized operation, aimed at gradually creating a shift in widespread perception.
In this case, the campaign TELLS THE TRUTH. That is its weapon. That is its intrinsic strength.
Media outlets, editors, reporters are always looking for interesting stories. The brutal fact of life is, they need copy to fill space and time. They must have it.
What about a boy in Arkansas who was ill for three years, unable to learn or play with his friends, who was brought back from the brink by supplements?
Is that a story?
You bet it is.
What about a husband who had to quit his job and go on the dole, because he no longer had the strength to put in eight hours in a factory? And then he regained his strength with nutrients. Is that a story? It sure is.
Does a fledgling PR campaign start from the top of the media chain? Does a story suddenly appear on the front page of The New York Times? In a fantasy world, perhaps.
No, you build up your book of clippings. You gradually move up the ladder.
You establish a foothold. You lay a firm foundation.
You find experts who will give you favorable and truthful quotes.
You shove in your chips for the long haul, and you don’t back out because you wish paradise would come tomorrow.
On the other side of this PR campaign, you tell the truth about your target, your opponent, your nemesis, your threat. The FDA.
You build up an accurate dossier documenting the widespread damage this agency had done over the years. And it’s there, believe me. For the past 20 years, I’ve been finding it and reporting it.
FDA-certified drugs have been killing American citizens at the rate of 100,000 a year. That’s a good place to start. (Starfield, JAMA, July 26, 2000; “Is US health really the best in the world?”)
You put your opponent, your threat back on its heels. You force it to play defense. Instead of trying to limit people’s access to supplements, the agency is busy warding off truthful, pointed attacks.
You obtain the right, correct, and honest coverage of the FDA in the press. On an ongoing basis.
This is the double-pronged PR campaign. There is much more to say about it, but you get the idea.
You want politicians to aggressively support health freedom? You have to show them they would have public opinion on their side. And how do you do that? You obtain TRUTHFUL media coverage.
Coverage isn’t accomplished by waving a magical wand. It’s done through PR.
Over the years, since I ran, in 1994, for a Congressional seat in Los Angeles on the issue of health freedom, I’ve seen the most haphazard, amateurish, wasteful, silly, and delusional PR launched out there, in the stratosphere, on behalf of health freedom. Drunken men with no tools would have a better chance of building a mansion than this kind of demented PR would have in congealing public opinion.
This must change. The nutritional industry must come into the 20th, and then the 21st century.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the basic ideal of individual freedom is under assault from many quarters. Health freedom will not escape this net.
Something EFFECTIVE needs to be done.
Go to Emord and Associates and read my long interview with brilliant constitutional attorney, Jonathan Emord. He spells out what the FDA is doing and planning to do to nutritional supplements in this country.
Jonathan explains the situation in detail.
Naysayers out there will give you a litany of reasons why the media will never cover health freedom or the massive success of nutritional supplements. “Media ad space is dominated by drug companies.” “Media are controlled by the government.” “Medical power is too great.”
I’ve heard all the excuses. Mostly, they are offered by people who refuse to believe any good change can happen in any sphere. But the fundamental flaw in their arguments lies in a complete misunderstanding about the way PR works.
Here is the secret. Most PR DOES work. If the people behind it are smart, if they have money, if they put in the time and the effort, if they aren’t scared away by a few failures, they will come out on top.
Every PR campaign knocks its head on the ceiling many times. “We can’t break through!” “They won’t listen to us!”
You complain, and then you roll up your sleeves and keep going. Because the goal is worth it. Because you truly want the desired end result. And because PR works.
When I began writing as a reporter almost 30 years ago, I knew nothing about the business. I quickly learned that media need copy. That was the basic reality. Media need stories. They will respond.
PR works the same way. You dig in for the long haul, and you gain success.
Of course, the other advantage of an excellent PR campaign is, no one person has to stick his neck out and take the heat. Instead a whole industry is involved. “You want a battle? Then come after all of us.”
Then can you imagine how the millions of people who buy those supplements would appear in full view, ready to stake their claim for freedom?
In the early 1990s, this is exactly what happened. A few nutritional executives bankrolled a massive outreach program, enlisting American citizens, who wrote millions of letters to Congress demanding a new law protecting supplements.
Congressional sponsors were lined up. They felt confident because the outcry from citizens was huge. The law was passed. It didn’t offer us the guarantees we really needed, but it was better than nothing.
Now we need more. Better laws, and also a PR campaign that doesn’t fold up its tent just because the Congress moved in a somewhat positive direction.
This time, we may need all those citizens to write to supplement companies demanding their action. I have sketched out that action in this article.