It must have been the salmon tacos and cabernet I had for dinner, 'cuz I
woke up in the middle of the night with a (divine?) revelation about the
declining ham and future contester population problem.
Perhaps we have been going about things bass-ackwards, assuming that the
"thrill" we enjoy erecting antennas and tweaking knobs to communicate is,
in and of itself, sufficient to attract new blood. Especially, considering
the massive proliferation of those very inexpensive competitive, easy to
use shack-in-a-hand devices known as cell phones. Internet chat rooms
offer inexpensive (albeit sometimes dangerous) ways for people to
"rag-chew" costly ham antennas & equipment.
What would a company do if its product sales were in a slump?
Why on earth did people pay money years ago to buy a stupid tiny rock (you
do remember the "Pet Rock", don't you)?
It's all about MARKETING. IMHO, we've been missing a Golden Opportunity.
Most people on the planet are like sheep: they are followers and not
leaders. Many are attracted to the famous, and young people especially
influenced by sports heros and rock stars. There is a very good reason why
product and service "customer testimonials" are used in advertising. It's
because they work.
Ham Radio has, or has had, many famous people in our fraternity. If the
ARRL, RSGB and other radio societies would partner up for "The Mother Of
All (Ham Radio) Marketing Campaigns" involving our well-known peers, we
just might see some interesting new results. I see some printed media plus
a DVD collage of video "testimonials" with folks like Walter Kronkite, Joe
Walsh, Ronnie Milsap, etc., etc. Certainly there must be some baseball,
football, hockey, soccer stars who are hams out there. Heads of State and
Politicos (even if deceased...along with Marlon Brando and others can be
referenced in a "Who (Was) Who in the world of amateur radio" snippet).
Using an entertaining DVD to hand out to prospective hams is much more New
Millenium that strictly printed materials, because it can be done in a
whiz-bang Entertainment Venue. Of course, a segment with some hot and
heavy competitive on-air CONTESTING would be absolutely critical for our
"niche" in the hobby (SSB for non-code viewers).
A new thought: Get one of the major PBS stations or affiliates to produce
such a piece in a documentary fashion which could be aired on numerous
Public Television stations!!! No cost for the freebie ongoing
promotion. "HELLO, ARRL...are you listening???"
We need to think outside the bun, box and doldrums of
do-nothingness. Perhaps there are some of you retired types with an
advertising/marketing background who can contribute time to such a project.
To do nothing will insure failure (and a lack of stations to work in
contests down the line).
FWIW & 73...
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