Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Spinning at the Border: Employee Activism in ‘Big PR’

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Abstract:  This article extends Coombs and Holladay’s (2018) social issues management model to provide new perspectives on activism and public relations. It also fills a gap in the literature on internal activism by analyzing the case of The Ogilvy Group and their employees, many of whom pushed for the agency to resign its work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Through a textual analysis of a leaked transcript documenting a meeting between Ogilvy management and internal activist employees, the communicative tasks of definition, legitimation, and awareness (Coombs & Holladay, 2018) are explored in a way that complicates identity and power. As public relations practitioners are increasingly called upon to either advocate for or against social issues, this study provides an interesting contrast, showing one interpretation of what happens when there is dissension in the ranks.

Keywords:  employee activism; immigration; Ogilvy; promotional culture; public relations



© Camille Reyes. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.