The Changing Face Of I & E Part II

Over the past few years, the phrase "enclangered species" has gained tremendous usage III the nati6nal media. It is a popular phrase with a multitude of interest groups: certain preservationists use it in attributing wildlife decreases to hunters; and at least one national gun sport organization claims that hunters are the endangered species; and some universal thinkers stoutly maintain that Man himself is now number one on the endangered list. If I may borrow on the drama of current jargon, I would like to submit that in Information and Education work, we face yet another "endangered species": the disappearing audience. In the division of public relations in Kentucky's Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources we sense that there have been some significant decreases in at least a few of our outdoor-related audiences; correspondingly we have indications that other audiences have grown-and some at a swift rate. How do these perceived changes effect our information work? And more importantly, how they affect our future communication patterns? Frankly, we do not yet know. As I mentioned a moment ago, we are taking about perceived changes. At the present time we have no quantifiable measures of change to indicate what directions our information flow should take. Our division is calles "public relations," but we are essentially a news service. We are charged with moving almost all news and features that originate in or pertain to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. But in our task of news dissemination, the growing question becomes: to whom are we addressing this information? What are we saying to them? What should we try to tell them? How many various outdoor interest groups do we now serve? How many should we try to serve? At present, we "know" less than 10% of our potential audience: and we are not too certain about how well we know that 10%. Our Department sells more than a half-million fishing licenses per year, and nearly a quarter-million hunting licenses. Yet the League of Kentucky Sportsmen 'the organization of 300 sportsmens clubs from across Kentucky which has worked so closely with the Department in the past) numbers it total membership at less than 35,000 this year; and its membership has been on the gradual decline over the past few years. So the questions arise: How do we reach the individual license holder who is not affiliated with a sportsmen's club? Indeed, what are some of the reasons for his not belonging to such an organization? What are his outdoor interests in addition to hunting or fishing?

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