The nice thing about anti-war demonstrations is that they almost always get some press.
They offer a nice visual, they're relevant both locally (traffic disruptions) and nationally (you know, war), and, if you're lucky, both Al Sharpton and Susan Sarandon end up behind bars.
But the downside is how completely dismissible they've become. The fact is, seeing the same gaggle of white kids chanting anti-war slogans over and over again eventually grows just as meaningless as watching Scott McClellan spew talking points from the podium. Neither commands much attention because neither is saying anything you wouldn't expect from someone in their position.
But once in a while, a different kind of protest - or at least a different kind of protester - catches the public's attention.
Such was the case last week, when Grandmothers Against the War staged a high-concept demonstration in Manhattan that culminated in a massive granny-arrest. Good luck finding a news editor who can resist that image.
The group, 18 women ranging from 49 to 90, approached the military recruiting station in Times Square intending, ostensibly, to enlist. Having already lived long lives, these ladies were demanding to be sent to Iraq instead of their grandchildren. Not surprisingly, the military wasn't interested.
But the media was. An Associated Press story was widely picked up, and The New York Times ran a poignant column about the grandmas on the front page of its Metro Section.
Of course, as this issue went to press, the war was still on, no one's grandchild was being returned, and Susan Sarandon was still at large. But kudos to these ladies for giving an aging tactic new life.
- Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's news editor.
3. On the right track