The Signs of Good Communication
I spent this past Thanksgiving holiday with my family at Grand Canyon, which was a very lovely trip thanks to the great company and the sheer immensity of the mind-blasting natural wonder all around us. Since this is an advertising blog and not a travel blog, however, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the communications efforts of our national parks service.
They really go to great lengths to keep people alive. We’re talking a multi-media blitz that includes signs, print ads, pamphlets and videos. I heard early and often that trying to hike to the river and back in one day can be, and often is, fatal.
This guy was everywhere:
Apparenty, the official signal to let the kids off-leash:
There was actually a line here where people politely waited to venture out to the end of the dangerous overlook to have their picture taken:
The canyon, after all, is extremely deep, with lots of temperature variations, challenging terrain and some exciting venomous critters. Not to mention a breathtakingly thin atmosphere.
Before hiking below the rim, one is greeted by various warning signs, reminding you that it is possible to fall off and, you know, be killed. On the trail itself, this warning again flashes through your mind as you are being passed on the outside by prancing five-year-olds. They, of course, have no conception that they could trip and fall – really, really fall and not stop falling for a really, really long time. Neither do the future Mensa hall-of-famers in street shoes inching out beyond the “DO NOT ENTER – DANGEROUS OVERLOOK” sign for a photo-op. One would like to assume that their parents, having seen the same signs, or watched the video, or achieved some level of consciousness that day, would have an idea that their children are literally a normal misstep away from what could only be termed a terrifying and messy death. Their parents, however, are busy taking pictures of their smiling children, or joining them on the precipice.
The lesson here, I guess, is that some target audiences cannot be reached – no matter how relevant, eye-catching and clearly presented the message may be. And if the worst happens, hopefully, the target audience can still be reached by the rangers, before it’s too late.