Read too quick
talk too soon

Posted 12.16.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One of the key cautions in our era of click-n-send e-mails is to write your message, save it, take a break, review it, and only then hit the final "send." That is good advice for replying to anything and anyone -- including letters to the editor.

On that last, I'd also request re-reading the editorial itself before replying. So many people seem to read far enough to get an idea of the content and then run off with that idea, which is not always accurate. For example, with last week's editorial on linking community events like the Santa parade to local business, several readers thought the editorial was an attack on the Santa parade! Hey, who would dare attack Santa Claus? Not this grandfather. The parade was just fine.

What the editorial did was pose questions.

What was questioned was the common claim that big community events are a stimulus to local businesses, as well as being a lot of fun for the community. Questioning this connection is not an attack, it is a question, and it remains a good question, one that every one of our many event-organizers should consider.

The question applies to Outaouais en fete, to the auto show, to the Fete d'antan, the Summer Games, and so on -- they all claim to aid local shops and restaurants, but we rarely, if ever, see any proof of that claim, while casual conversations with local businesspeople does tell us there is very little spill-over of benefits from such events.

Public relations, name-recognition, and other benefits to Aylmer are all hypothetical -- if the organizers make a positive claim, they should be able to back that claim up.

The real question is how to make these excellent events even better, more helpful to the entire community, especially our local economy. This is APICA's ambition.

This year, the businesses and parade committee -- people who work exceptionally hard -- did do their follow-up, a survey of people at the parade. This survey indicates where our audience comes from and how they are learning of our events -- crucial information for budgeting and organizing events.

The next step, already underway, is to decide how to improve these events. Not only their quality (floats in the parade, wreaths at Remembrance Day, acts at the Fete national, etc), but how to improve parking and access -- and how to multiply the event's effect on our local economy.

This is evidence-based planning. Basic for organizers, but often over-looked. It could be expanded to the Hot Air Balloon Festival and used to evaluate our city's participation in events like the Juno Awards and summer games.

Asking questions is not a hostile act. Praising the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of sponsors is important, but not sufficient. Let's look further, gather all the information we can, talk to all the players we can, and then let's give each event a hard look. No rocket science here, but it is essential -- and positive.


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/12.13