The End of the ‘Letter Writing Campaign?’

March 29, 2010

by Kerry Martin

More and more, I find examples of when static text printed on a simple piece of paper just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Take for example the proposals from local governments and cities vying to get a piece of the action in Google’s free offer of Google Fiber for Communities. Because the global technology powerhouse known for its creativity and innovation is the decision-maker, most of these applicants are trying in unique ways to get an edge over the competition.

On top of creating Web sites and Facebook pages, towns like Duluth, MN, and Palo Alto, CA, have attempted attention-getting stunts to show their dedication (if you could call it that) to winning Google Fiber. You can read about the mayor jumping into icy Lake Superior and the dance party by Palo Alto city employees in The New York Times.

In competitions like these, it seems like it’s no longer good enough to have a stack of letters from partners and stakeholders declaring their support for the project. I can’t count how many times I’ve drafted a letter that starts “on behalf of …., I pledge my support for…” Do those just get overlooked when another town’s leader says the same thing…but on video right before jumping out of a plane?

Ultimately, in this case, Google’s product manager reported that the fiber contest applications will be evaluated by merit—even though they’re “excited about the grass-roots enthusiasm.”

With all things being equal, I’m in favor of the pen-to-paper method over the 35-degree-plunge to show my support.


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