Over at the weird, encyclopedic Everything2, I found this entry under “The four types of activist.” Good stuff, even if the quoting source is the otherwise lunatic screed, Toxic Sludge is Good For You. I’ve summarized the post, which is itself a summary of a 20-year-old speech to the American Cattlemen’s Association, below.
Back in the day, I helped defeat several slow-growth movements on behalf of the National Association of Homebuilders; from that experience, I’d say this summary is right on the money.
The short version: There are four basic types of activists — radicals, opportunists, idealists and realists. Dealing with movements antagonistic to your clients involves dividing the different types, using different tactics for each group:
- Isolate the radicals.
- Get the opportunists on the payroll if needed, or ignore them.
- Cultivate/educate the idealists and convert them to realists.
- Co-opt the realists into agreeing with industry.