When you want to communicate information to someone how do you go about it? Do you send a letter in the mail without putting the appropriate address on it? Do you pick up the phone and dial some random numbers and hope you'll get the right person to answer?
Um, no. When you want to talk to me, you call my number. Or you send me an email. You don't just put the information out there in the universe and hope that it will filter down to the people who need it.
So, my question for today is, why do organizations think that putting notices in local newspapers is an appropriate way to get information out to people? "Because that's the way we've always done it" is my guess. Because that's what's mandated by law.
Well guess what. Many, many, many people are not reading newspapers any more. Or if we are, we're reading the online version. We're not receiving our information the way we used to. It's time for public entities to catch up and focus their information sharing so it gets to the intended receiver.
Case in point - local school districts. (School City Mishawaka, I'm looking at you.) Every year they ask for my email address. We've been in the system for eight years now. They have yet to use it. I do communicate with my kid's teachers via email, always only after I contact them first.
Also, our school sends home a newsletter twice a month. Why can't these notices be included in the newsletter?
Example number two - Indiana Department of Transportation. A neighbor received a letter at her work addressed to "Dear Concerned Citizens, Local Residents, and Elected Officials" regarding the SR331 Capital Avenue project about a public meeting happening this week. Apparently practically living in the construction zone for seven years now has not qualified us as "local residents." I beg to differ. I called the number on the letter and asked to be added to the mailing list for this specific project.
But seriously, they know the addresses of the residents in the vicinity. Why wouldn't they send letters to us all directly? Saving stamps? Give me a break. "We did put the notice in the newspapers." Yes, the woman on the phone said that. I do my best to simply ignore that statement now. It's not good enough.
Communication can't be just one way. It must actually be received to be effective.