BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Getting the word out

The world is increasingly wired in and that means information is constant.

However, governments, businesses and other organizations shouldn’t give up on more traditional methods of communications.

As a good example is what occurred April 23 as I wasted time on the computer at home while contemplating going to bed. As I occasionally do, I checked out the personal blogs of two local politicians to see what tidbits they may have posted.

So just before 9 p.m., they had a link to the Regional District of North Okanagan website indicating that the Kalamalka Lake water source had been shut off because of turbidity and all of Greater Vernon was now hooked into Duteau Creek.

I immediately checked my work e-mail but no official press releases had been issued. The only verification of the situation was a notice on the RDNO website.

It’s difficult to know why the regional district took the approach it did. Perhaps switching water sources wasn’t considered important enough to alert the media, but if that’s the case, why was anything even posted on the web at all?

As I have learned over the years, water in Greater Vernon is a motherhood issue. People take very seriously what comes out of their tap, particularly given the ever-increasing rates.

And while switching water sources may seem minor, it isn’t for some people.

RDNO’s alert stated that, “Customers who are not normally on the Duteau Creek source will notice that the water is much softer and the water has a low alkalinity and pH. This may be of interest to those customers who have in-home water treatment systems or aquariums.”

Given those scenarios, there may be some individuals who want to know that they aren’t on the Kal Lake source anymore.

Plus, even with the multi-millions of dollars spent on upgrades, hearing the name Duteau Creek can create flashbacks of the yellow, musty stuff that used to come out of the tap years ago.

RDNO ultimately issued a press release mid-morning April 24 so the media could finally let the public know what had occurred half-a-day before.

Once again, this may not seem like a big deal but thanks to smart phones and virtually endless access to Wi Fi, people are expecting information to be instantaneous. Within seconds of it happening, you can find out that a Kardashian has separated or Vladamir Putin is shirtless. So why not changes to your water source?

But even as the Internet’s influence grows, not everyone is motoring down the highway.

I wonder how many people routinely check out RDNO’s website unless they are looking for something specific, like the recycling calendar or who to contact about land rezoning? Except for the two politicians with blogs, how many residents actually saw the notice about Kal Lake water? Probably very few.

That’s why sending out press releases to the media is critical.

Once they have it, newspapers, radio stations, TV and online outlets can spread the word to the masses, and it can be immediate thanks to their websites and social media accounts, which are followed regularly by the public (the Morning Star Facebook page has  2,100 likes and growing).

Now don’t get me wrong, RDNO is generally pretty good at letting the media know about what’s happening, and earlier in the day April 23, a release went out on Drinking Water Week activities.

Encouraging people to respect such a valuable resource is critical, but people may actually want to know where their water is coming from before they celebrate.


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