Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rural PSYOP - Harder Than Urban PSYOP

As a City Boy I’ve always been fascinated with all things rural – especially Cowboys. This summer has been an immersion experience in rural living. While not exactly living on a farm, any town with about 4 cows per person certainly qualifies as rural.
Here’s a couple of things I’ve learned:

Credibility comes from closeness – media from the immediate (and I really mean IMMEDIATE) area is the only credible source. Local media concentrate on local news and opinion. They reflect what is important to the area. For example, a weekly county newspaper will put the obituaries on page 2 because it’s important. City people read the obits to make sure they’re not there.

Word of mouth is still the best means of communication – the grapevine in a small town puts the CIA to shame. Most people know more about their neighbors and former neighbors than NSA could find out in a hundred years.

Not everyone is on the Internet – while e-mail may be a mainstay of life for many people, it’s not necessarily a key source for everyone.

Cell Phones are more common than six guns. Every self respecting cowboy has a cell phone! Not that they’re going to IM while ropin’ doggies, but they are ubiquitous. Strangely enough my personal observation is that they’re used mostly as phones.

Billboards – While certain states regard billboards as eyesores, communities that have an Interstate linking them to larger cities have some prominent ones. There are even state of the art electronic billboards with flashing messages to catch the eye of locals and travelers alike.
Community Gathering Spots – there might not be places where groups gather regularly, but there are major events during the year that draw crowds, some of which encourage participation by groups seeking to get their message out.

Agriculture and Schools are centers of gravity. Family schedules revolve around the land and the school year. One is adjusted to accommodate the other.

Sense of Urgency – a sense of urgency is something that doesn’t seem to exist unless it relates to acting to avoid damage to crops or livestock.

Do It Yourself – there is a strong sense of self-reliance. Most people would rather fix stuff themselves then rely on others. This often translates to a shortage of people for hire in ultra rural areas.

Your word is your bond – sooner or later if you don’t stick to your promises, your reputation will precede you and it won’t be pleasant.

Y’all enjoy the summer, Labor Day is around the corner!

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