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With permission, I am re-posting this from Lactnet. The writer, Jodine Chase, is a IRL friend of mine, a breastfeeding advocate, and a professional Public Relations specialist. I think her opinion is worthy of note.

There has been a lot of discussion about milk banking and concerns have been
expressed that raising issues about the possible research use of human milk
is damaging to the cause of breastfeeding promotion. In the process some
have equated nurse-ins at establishments that don't welcome breastfeeding in
public with a boycott of milk banks. I don't support the latter as I think
it is counter to the goal of promoting breastfeeding. Milk banks - access to
human milk - is key to our goal of giving babies and mothers every
opportunity to ensure exclusive breastfeeding for six months as recommended
by our health professionals.

I believe a change in attitudes towards nursing in public is also important
to meeting this goal.

This list has talked about the pros and cons of nurse-ins before, and I've
posted before on the positive aspects. Please know my intent is simply to
say that nurse-ins can be an effective tool to raising awareness, which is
one of the first steps towards changing attitudes and opinion. I don't agree
that they are de facto damaging to the cause of promoting breastfeeding.

With regard to nurse-ins, I would like to respectfully point out that
without research, we can't *know* if a nurse-in creates a positive or
negative impact with the general public. Or if any negative impact is offset
or even outweighed by increased awareness, or better, a shift in attitudes.

Event-specific research would normally include tracking media coverage to
see if messages carried in coverage match the messaging goals of the event,
establishing the size of the audience and perhaps the demographics of the
audience exposed to the messages, and perhaps attitudinal polling to
determine the "pickup" or resonance of that messaging.

This is the sort of research that would accompany a large public
communications effort but most volunteer groups - the ones most likely to
choose this awareness tactic - wouldn't have access to the funding needed to
execute this evaluation of their efforts.

Groups who choose nurse-ins and other forms of public attention-getting
activities are in good company. There are numerous examples of successful
grassroots protests campaigns - from the lunch-counter sit-ins of the US
civil rights movement in the Sixties to the hundreds of thousands of
demonstrators in Kiev in the last few weeks.

These kinds of actions are rarely without controversy, of course. In fact,
the controversy is part of what drives media coverage, which is what allows
event organizers to place their messages. There's little doubt that protests
of various sorts have changed public opinion and prompted legislators to
take action. They can be a powerful tool for raising awareness and changing
attitudes. They are but one tool - working from inside organizations to push
for change is another tool. Modeling behaviour, support groups, educating
one person at a time - these are all important tools.

If the protest tool is ineffective or counterproductive, big pr firms
wouldn't have come up with the technique of "astroturfing" - the term given
to the practice of manufacturing a grassroots campaign. Here's an article
that exposes astroturf/protest techniques for those who are interested.

-- Jodine Chase
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