Media and ‘visitor’ interest in Transition Initiatives and projects – an opportunity for everyone
By Ben Brangwyn 8th April 2010
Getting that “Lourdes” feeling…
Here at Transition Network (and Transition Town Totnes), we regularly get emails like this:
Hi, I’m from Transition Whycocomagh in Nova Scotia and we’re going to be over in the UK in a couple of weeks. We want to come to Totnes and visit a couple of projects there, then go and see some others on our way up to Edinburgh. Please can you set that up for us?
Another surprisingly frequent one is:
We’re making a film about sustainability and we’ll be coming to Totnes on Thursday. We’d like to film a few projects and interview some of the people involved in the allotment thing we saw on the website.
The craziest one so far was – and this was for real:
We’re planning a reality TV show about a town that has all its food shops closed down to see how the community copes with sudden food shortages. We think a Transition Town will do better than the others so we’d like to come down and discuss it.
So, for Totnes and a few of the higher profile initiatives, this level of interest, whilst heartwarming and very positive, can become a bit of a unwelcomed distraction from the business of transitioning.
For this reason, we’re inviting other initiatives to step into the limelight, put themselves forward as “media attractors” and “transition visitor destinations” and claim their fair share of the attention.
What’s in it for you?
If your initiative appears in a national publication or specialty mag, or on tv or the radio, it can be a significant awareness raising boost, informing people you might otherwise not be reaching about your achievements and aspirations. Most media organisations will provide you with reprints of your articles and clips from tv shows, or you can get hold of them online, so the benefits can be quite long lasting.
It could also help any funding bids – “as seen on tv” – and raise your credibility with officialdom. And Totnes once charged £250 to project manage a visit from a Korean film crew, who were delighted with the results.
Regarding “transition visitors”, welcoming in people from, say, Whycocomagh, may yield multiple benefits as well. Your local economy will get a little boost, and if they talk in glowing terms about your efforts in ye local olde worlde pubbe, who knows who might be listening in and get attracted into your initiative. And in the wider context of Transition, a more resilient Nova Scotia will create a more resilient Canada and if North America generally is more resilient we’ll all be better off.
There’s no denying that dealing with media or with “transition visitors” will require some effort on your part. And in the most part, it’ll feel very rewarding – as long as it’s not an relentless stream of interest. The key is being able to hang a sign above your open door saying “Media/visitors welcome” and then being able to take it down (even temporarily) when you’ve had enough.
First, you’ll need to agree within your initiative that you’re OK with being a “media attractor” or “Transition visitor destination”.
Once that’s done, the process revolves around the new web platform and its rather brilliant inner mechanisms – and even for the technophobes among us it should be pretty painless, if not downright pleasurable.
- Set up your initiative profile, providing as much info as possible about what you’re doing – of course, most of you have already done that :¬)
- Set up your personal profile. If you’re already registered in the system, you may want to flesh out your details a bit
- Make sure to associate your personal profile with your initiative – you do that in the “Involvement & interest with the Transition Network” section in your personal profile, selecting your initiative from a looong list
- Finally, in your initiative profile, set yourself up as the “media contact” – you’ll find that in the “People & Contacts” section
Your name and initiative will now magically appear in a list on a page titled “Contacts for media and transition visitors“. That’s the page we’ll highlight to the visitors from Whycocomagh and beyond, and to the media people when they contact us. In time we’ll add more functionality to that page so it holds more info and becomes more helpful.
And in the unlikely event that you get more attention than you can deal with, either send the unwanted enquiries back to the “Contacts for media and transition visitors” page or simply remove the media contact from your initiative profile – that way you’ll simply disappear from that list.
Now all you have to do is check your emails for something with a subject line like “[Transition Network] visiting you in June!!” and respond accordingly. With a bit of luck and effort, you may soon find yourself getting invited back to a true Nova Scotian coastal gem, or crowding round a tv shouting “Look, that’s me at the grand opening of the composting toilet in the High Street!”
Thanks for stepping up, again.