Chip Christianson owns J. Barleycorn’s liquor store and is listed as president of Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association. Here’s what he told a reporter from WKRN when interviewed about Red White and Food earlier this month:
“Citizens didn’t start this movement. Very high paid [public relations] firms by large grocery chains started this movement,” Christianson said.
Christianson is right on one point. The Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association is using not one but two PR firms for the Red White and Food campaign. He neglected to mention that his organization provided support to the opposing PR and direct mail campaign that ran afoul with a legislator last session.
Christianson completely misses the boat on the impact of PR. Contrary to West Wing depictions, PR cannot make people believe anything they don’t want to believe. What PR can do is create a platform for people who have a belief to support a cause. People will support the cause matters to them and they truly believe they can have an impact.
Judging from our success so far, Red White and Food is on to something.
Tennesseans have joined the campaign in droves (we have about 3,500 members now, as many as 5x our opponents). They contacted legislators by the hundreds. They have commented favorably to almost every news story about the issue. They made wine in retail food stores one of the top issues of the past legislative session and will make it one the top issues at this session.
Tennessee consumers truly started and fueled Red White and Food. Their frustration is our inspiration. Red White and Food is a platform for them to voice and act on that frustration. Can you hear them now?