As much as we love Surfrider, the folks at National Environmental Trust, and specifically their COOL (Conserve Our Ocean Legacy) program, are making a late-in-the-year run at being our favorite group for 2005 by recycling the Tiny Fish PSA.
Check out the new cut of the Tiny Fish PSA -- it gets right to the heart of the over-fishing issue in the U.S. They're going to start running it in Washington D.C. on Monday during Fox News and CNN. We'll see if it rocks any NOAA boats.
Now what to make of the idea of recycling a PSA like this. Actually, I'll tell you in my not so humble opinion exactly what to make of it -- THIS is the way to communicate effectively. THIS is what the right wing figured out long ago. Take a simple message and repeat it over and over and over. A fisherman holding up a stringer of tiny fish is about as good of a simple, easily understood message as you can find for the over-fishing problem. So let's run with it.
And this illustrates the difference between education and entertainment. Not so long ago I heard a "communications" person from a large NGO talk about their "newest campaign" that they would be launching in the fall. The person spoke like it was part of the fall fashions -- a new season, time for a new message. Wouldn't want to get stuck saying the same old thing. The public wants to hear something fresh and new. Right?
Well, the heart of this conservation stuff is public education, and the bad news is, real genuine education isn't meant to be pretty. In fact, it often has to be painful if its going to be effective. Education and entertainment are polar opposites. I know its not cool to say this, but trust me, I've spent a lot of years thinking about it. Yes, I know many people buy into the myth that "we can have both!", but they're mostly wrong. The essence of effective education is repetition. Yes, we'd like to think everyone is so sharp they get it on the first try. But the real world is not so perfect. Things have to be repeated to be conveyed effectively.
Entertainment is the opposite of this. Repetition is the DEATH of entertainment. Try making a film and you'll learn this the hard way. You're not even allowed to show the same shot twice without the viewer getting annoyed. And this is why I've often said that film is a very weak educational medium. But the people who get paid large sums of money making "educational films" don't like to hear this, so I try not to push it too much.
But that's the bottom line. And the right wing figured it out long ago. They're good at being followers. They're willing to listen to the same message over and over. And as a result they run the entire country, and the left wing continues to be angry and snide. And environmental groups continue to come up with new messages as if it were their goal. Perhaps one day they will figure this out, and realize the best thing you can say is that, "Our new campaign is going to be our old campaign -- we're sticking with the same message this year."
Posted by Randy Olson at October 14, 2005 12:02 AM
I haven't seen fish this big in years!