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April 16, 2016

Charles Olentine

Charlie Olentine, CEO of Consult NC Inc, has over 25 years experience in B2B publishing and from 2004 to 2016 managed the Top 50 show - International Production & Processing Expo. colentine@consult-nc.com

"What we've got here is failure to communicate." - Prison Warden, Cool Hand Luke

Technology has changed our lives dramatically, especially in terms of communication. The Millennial Generation has no concept of what life was like in the “good old days”.

The company for which I was a publisher started an international magazine in the mid-1960’s and subsequently established a sales office in the Netherlands. Back then, to make an international phone call was like taking your bank account and signing it over to Ma Bell; so the firm had to devise a way for the Dutch office to communicate with the home office in Illinois.

The cheapest resolution for communicating advertising orders entailed the development of a shorthand code for the various types of ads which would then be transmitted via Western Union. The key was to use as few keystrokes as possible.

The telegram routine was replaced at the publishing house in the 1970’s with a new much less expensive technology. The telex became leading edge for transmitting messages.

In 1964, Xerox Corporation introduced what many consider to be the first commercialized version of the modern fax machine and by the late 1970’s, faxes were the preferred hard copy communication mode around the world. I can still remember offering a weekly faxed newsletter in the late 1980’s to a select circulation list through advertising sponsorships (the predecessor to today’s newsletters).

With the introduction of the internet to the masses in the 1980’s and 1990’s we were able to use phone modems to log in and get the newest communication technology – email.

For a while this seemed to be the answer to our prayers. Free and immediate correspondence was now available but then the marketers and sleaze balls got into the spamming mode.

Jump forward to the 21st Century and the introduction of social media, which for the younger generation has turned out to be the communication mode of choice.

Many of the once leading-edge advocates (I still have an AOL email address) are still locked into email in spite of the volume of unwanted solicitations. While social media is now a part of our lives, what platform is the one to choose? Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, texting, etc., are all competing to be the option of choice.

From an organizer point of view, how does one get information the exhibitors and/or attendees? If I need to send important information about show logistics, do I use email? However, many of the contact emails addresses are info@xyy.com, marketing@xyz.com, sales@xyz.com. 

You have the challenge of getting the the email to desired recipient which may be a generic address or that message may get filtered out or blacklisted by the recipient’s IT department. Then you have to get that recipient to open and READ the email. Good luck!

Talk to a Millennial and they will tell you that they do not use email. They are using some sort of social media platform.

For many of us Luddites, the answer reverts back to the oldest standard of them all – the US Postal Service. If the message is critical, at least you know it is delivered; but if you want it read, you had better keep it short and sweet. The days of brochures are over. A postcard is probably the most eye-catching and easily read route.

No one can predict what the future communication option of choice will be. All we know is that communication has been made a lot simpler and yet more difficult.

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