You’re probably familiar with the classic movie scene where a government official, upon learning something for the first time, indignantly berates a subordinate. “Why wasn’t I informed?” he demands to know.
That scene came back to me recently when a resident, upon realizing she had missed a Township event, said essentially the same thing. “Why doesn’t the Township communicate these things?” she wanted to know.
At first, I was a bit caught off guard. That’s because for years, Cranberry has taken pride in using all sorts of media to communicate with its residents. So I started reeling off a list of the tools we use.
There’s our newsletter, CranberryToday, that gets mailed to every address in Cranberry as well as to a bunch outside it. There’s our Parks & Recreation program guides. There’s our website – actually three of them – that we are constantly updating. We have eBlasts, text alerts, brochures, video screens and our electronic sign at 19 and 228. We are active on a whole slew of social media sites. We have all sorts of in-person events as well as twice-monthly public meetings of our Board, whose agendas and actions are always posted on our website. We send out news releases to get picked up by local print and electronic media. We use paid advertising. And the list goes on and on.
Of course, we could always do more to get Township information out in front of people. We could hire a town crier, or build a TV station, or buy space on billboards, or make robocalls, for example. In the meantime, we try to use humor and graphics and other techniques to make our messages interesting and readable. And we try to make them as easy to find as possible.
But here’s the problem: You can send out messages until you’re blue in the face. However, unless people take the time to read or listen, those messages won’t do their job. We can’t force anyone to pay attention.
In a democracy, each of us is personally responsible for becoming informed, and with so many organizations vying for your attention, selling their ideas and products and services through so many channels, things can get pretty noisy. So it’s easy to miss something you really wanted to know. Now and then it happens to all of us.
That said, however, I want to assure you that Cranberry will continue doing its best to convey important information through as many of the communication channels our residents make use of as possible. But taking the time to scan those media for valuable information is really up to each of us, both as private individuals, as responsible citizens, and as residents of Cranberry Township.
Thanks for listening.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Cranberry’s communications. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org