I'm surprised by how many of my conversations lately have centered on the question of how to get the word out. About anything. About a non-profit, about an upcoming event, or just about a political viewpoint.
As a graduate of the newspaper and public relations world (or, dropout, maybe, depending on how you look at it), I'm fascinated by what people know, what they think they know and how they know it.
Obviously, conventional means of publicity are falling by the wayside. And some new forms of social media -- Facebook and Twitter, particularly, are becoming the information leaders of choice. Anyone with a couple hundred Facebook friends are treated to a potpourri of links to political or artsy posts that their friends want to get out.
And so, inevitably, the marketers turn to Facebook, with varying degrees of success. For example, you put your hotel rooms on sale for half price and I might jump at it. But if you just post something about how your hotel has nice views -- I'll "unfriend" you pretty damn fast.
So getting the word out has become a real challenge. Here in Santa Cruz, the Sentinel still dominates the local informational picture. Get a feature story in the paper and chances are you'll reach a fair number of folks. But even that is fading away. The average age of a newspaper reader is nearly 60 years old, and most younger folks really don't play close attention to the print newspaper.
If you're a politician, the issue runs deeper. Because of the nature of news -- and a limit of staff size -- only the most controversial issues make headlines in the newspaper of today. Some politicians worry that such coverage only plays up controversy and leaves out about 90 percent of what they do on a day-to-day basis.
So how do you get the word out about the entirety of what you do? Mayor Ryan Coonerty is trying something: what he's calling his "Mayor's Academy." It will be a two-hour course that he hopes "will allow for a more thoughtful and in-depth discussion of the challenges and opportunities for our City."
What's fascinating about his attempt at contributing to a higher level of involvement is how he got the word out about it. He first e-mailed his immediate circle of friends, colleagues and business contacts. He sent word out on Facebook. And then he put out a notice on the e-mail list at his NextSpace business.
And, by the way, he also had an article printed about it in the Sentinel.
Maybe that's the answer about getting the word out. Try a little of everything.