Raining on SeaWorld’s Parade: PETA’s Direct Action and Public Interest Communication


  • Ashli Stokes UNC-Charlotte




Direct action, PETA, SeaWorld, social change


PETA is well known for creative animal rights activism, with studies exploring how its text-based advocacy creates change regarding societal treatment of animals. What is less explored is how PETA uses on the ground direct action strategies as public interest communications (PIC). For PIC scholars, these strategies are relevant, as direct action provides communicators with experiential ways to persuade stakeholders of new perspectives to push for social change. Building on previous studies in public relations activism and PIC, this essay argues that PETA’s direct-action strategies complement its text-based advocacy by shaping stakeholder perception through encounters with material realities, specifically by using embodied forms of persuasion. Answering how public interest communicators create effective persuasive messages on the ground is crucial in understanding contemporary social change. 

Author Biography

Ashli Stokes, UNC-Charlotte

Professor, UNC Charlotte (effective July 1, 2018).


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Original Research