Out of Sight, Out of Mind

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By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Fruit often ends up rotting in the crisper drawer. Well, that's the wrong place to put it. Out of sight, out of mind. The kids all know where the junk-food shelf is. Make the fruit that easy to get to. Put a big huge bowl of fruit on the counter.
Tyler Florence

There is a reason L.L. Bean sends a catalog in the mail with a planned persistence. It recognizes that if it stops sending magazines, and just relies on emails or its website to try to get you to shop with them, you’ll soon forget they are around.

Eddie Bauer, Cabelas, J. Crew, and other retailers will then dominate the market, and L.L. Bean would fade from our awareness despite the numerous emails they send among the flood of emails you already get.

They know they must always keep their brand fresh in your memory. They know you will page through their magazine and maybe see something you like, then go to their website to buy it. They know that constant reminder of the magazine sitting on your coffee table, kitchen counter, or on the nightstand will prompt you to go to their website.

Print in the hands of your potential customers is a reminder that you want their business. Retailers know that out of sight is out of mind.

Emails arrive at a pace and volume that it is impossible to keep up with. Many we set aside for a later look. But we all know what happens to the vast majority of emails we set aside – they are forgotten as the next batch demands attention. The olds build up and are eventually deleted, unread.

Ads flash up on the Facebook pages and other social media, but at the time we are engaged with friends, or are looking for something more interesting, and make a mental note to get back to that ad we saw. But the press of time and the immediacy demands are always leading us away, distracting us from what we saw just a few minutes ago.

Magazines can come in the mail today and sit there as a constant reminder to check out that shirt or sweater. It is there a week later, or even a month later.

The magazines for men’s and women’s clothing; hardware; novelties; sporting goods and other retail goods stack up because the retailers know print is invaluable to reaching repeat customers as well as finding new ones.

Government accountability and coverage

Out of sight and out of mind also applies to our governments at the local, state and federal levels with frightening implications.

The late David Carr, the New York Times' media writer, said: “The constancy of a daily paper... is a reminder to a city that someone is out there watching.... You have to wonder whether it will still have the same impact when it doesn't land day after day on doorsteps all over the city.”

A recent study by the University of North Carolina found that America “has lost almost 1,800 newspapers since 2004, including more than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies.” The result is news deserts around the country where communities no longer have knowledge of what their local leaders are doing with their tax dollars. They don’t know if the city is looking after the health and welfare of its citizens, or letting it slide with disastrous and deadly consequences.

Research has shown that when a community loses its newspaper the cost of borrowing money goes up for taxpayers. Interest rates on bonds are set higher because there is no longer a watchdog to keep elected officials honest. With a higher chance of corruption and malfeasance occurring when no one is holding elected and appointed officials accountable, the risk of default or difficulty in repaying a loan rises. As a result of the increased risk, interest rates rise.

When the government is out of sight, and out of your mind, it is likely in your pocket, restricting your rights, or working against your interests.

Polarized communities

When communities lose their newspapers they also lose sight of understanding for one another’s points of view. The news that community newspapers provide often isn’t seen as the polarizing political discourse that pervades the national and, to a degree, state news.

If we have controversial issues, they are not divided along Republican and Democratic lines, they involve issues critical to people within the community about the education their children are getting in their schools and the services provided by the city, county and hospital/clinic. The issues involved are about quality of life in the community.

When local residents lose their source of local news, studies now show that their outlook in general becomes more polarized on issues and they tend to be more rigid along party lines.

All these points underscore the importance of print in people’s lives. They underscore the importance of citizens within a community supporting their local newspaper. They highlight the importance of local governments supporting their community newspaper through their public advertising. They support the value print brings to advertisers by constantly reminding their customers that they are open and waiting to serve the needs of their customers.

If you are not putting yourself out there in print, you are lost in an ever-expanding universe of online information. You are competing for the attention of people who are constantly distracted on line and putting your information away to look at later  - but they never get back to it.

Out of sight, out of mind. The absent are always in the wrong.
Thomas a Kempis

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