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Winning the good fight


Clammor
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In the northwest, there has been some critical press over geo caching. As I see it, we are just another group that wants to explore... just like any outdoor recreation enthusiast. So what are some things we can do collectively to stop the bad press?

 

Here are my thoughts...

 

Cache in, trash out. Make it better than you leave (a good rule to live by).

 

Educate. Make sure friends and family understand what you do... and do not do.

 

Don't give into sensationlism. The news loves stories that get people to argue... this translates to ratings. Stay off the media forums. If you really feel inclinde to post on a media site, talk about the positives and do not engage in the silly stuff.

 

Other thoughts?

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Don't give into sensationlism. The news loves stories that get people to argue... this translates to ratings. Stay off the media forums. If you really feel inclinde to post on a media site, talk about the positives and do not engage in the silly stuff.

This is well and good. But do you control what goes on within that editing room? I think not! :)

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I agree about your excellent thoughts on how to combat bad press. You write well.

 

I did my bit in another way recently: the press contacted me. First a reporter contacted me from a newspaper, then after that article was published, a radio station called me. Today there was a story on television.

 

In my interviews I made sure to comment that virtually all cachers are very responsible, as are the cache owners. I talked up what caching is, what we do, who does it and where, how permission is needed to hide caches, how we volunteer, etc. None of my comments were sensational.

 

In the northwest, there has been some critical press over geo caching. As I see it, we are just another group that wants to explore... just like any outdoor recreation enthusiast. So what are some things we can do collectively to stop the bad press?

 

Here are my thoughts...

 

Cache in, trash out. Make it better than you leave (a good rule to live by).

 

Educate. Make sure friends and family understand what you do... and do not do.

 

Don't give into sensationlism. The news loves stories that get people to argue... this translates to ratings. Stay off the media forums. If you really feel inclinde to post on a media site, talk about the positives and do not engage in the silly stuff.

 

Other thoughts?

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Don't give into sensationlism. The news loves stories that get people to argue... this translates to ratings. Stay off the media forums. If you really feel inclinde to post on a media site, talk about the positives and do not engage in the silly stuff.

This is well and good. But do you control what goes on within that editing room? I think not! :)

 

True. On the radio, for example, they said something about a "growing controversy." Hah! In the newsroom they obviously did not understand that this "Forest Defender" is not a group.

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Another idea: invite your local media to geocaching events. They may send out a feature reporter to take a few pictures and get a sense of what's going on.

 

Come up with creative ways to forge ties between geocachers and the community. One news story I frequently link to is a feature about geocachers in upper state New York who helped mark the GPS coordinates of old graves in a historic cemetery, to help people doing genealogical research find them more easily. Whenever I see a negative story about geocaching - particularly geocaching in cemeteries - I cite that as an example of geocachers doing good.

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There should be something about PVC containers not being an acceptable cache container, mostly because it can resemble a pipe bomb, and because they do not seal water tight well unless you tighten it to the point of not being able to be opened without a wrench. Or any container that may resemble such.

 

stopping cache containers like that is a good step.

 

Educating new cachers is a good idea too. If you can stop inexperienced cachers from making the mistake of putting a cache in a place that may make some one think terrorist act, or using a container that resembles something terroristic, then you will eliminate most of the problems.

 

Also, I know a lot of cache placers who hid them on private property or a place where in they would need permission, they lie and say the do, but do not. We need to emphasize getting permission. Its also not a bad idea to encourage cachers to check with their police departments, and at least make sure they are aware of geocaching.

 

Overall emphasis of good cache placement is probably the best thing we can do. We have to make sure cachers know these things.

 

It is also not a bad idea to tell people who do see you getting a cache what it is you are doing, especially if they look at you like you are going to blow up a lamp post, or something like that. I have made up muggle cards that I hand to a muggle who has caught me retrieving and replacing a cahce, and I leave them in caches so people can have some too, But it clearly explains what it is that I am doing when I hand it to some one. This way people won't think you are "Osama Kill Lamppost" beings most of the articles I have seen have included lamp post hides with film canisters.

 

But over all, good or bad, media exposure will get geocaching out there, and more people are less likely to freak over time when they see some one sneaking a container out of some where public. but for the time being we need to educate cachers about the right way to do things.

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There should be something about PVC containers not being an acceptable cache container, mostly because it can resemble a pipe bomb, and because they do not seal water tight well unless you tighten it to the point of not being able to be opened without a wrench. Or any container that may resemble such.

 

Oh no, not again.

Edited by narcissa
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- Volunteer for trail maintenance

- Perform CITOs

- Organise events, encouraging young people to get out into the woods (Honestly, they'll be more enthusiastic than you can imagine, once they get started.)

- Find other ways to reflect positively on the merits of geocaching.

 

Win the war with good acts and good PR.

 

This 'Forest Defender' is simply a false defender - they love publicity.

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I was in the thrift store with my 5 yr old today buying some swag items. The subject of swag and geocaching was brought up by my daughter at the cash register, the lady ringing us up says she just saw a news story about people destroying caches because of not wanting people to go off trails and look for them.

 

I explained to her how sad that was. How much we love getting outdoors as a family and that we always bring bags with us to PICK UP garbage along trails and the beach. That cachers are the ones out there actually trying to help.

 

My 5 yr old is the recycling and garbage police at our house so she had a few words too.

 

I think just taking the time to explain it to people as the subject comes up is a reasonable way to handle it. The check-out lady was very receptive to what we said, although when we left she called out "remember to stay on the trails!" :)

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I was in the thrift store with my 5 yr old today buying some swag items. The subject of swag and geocaching was brought up by my daughter at the cash register, the lady ringing us up says she just saw a news story about people destroying caches because of not wanting people to go off trails and look for them.

 

I explained to her how sad that was. How much we love getting outdoors as a family and that we always bring bags with us to PICK UP garbage along trails and the beach. That cachers are the ones out there actually trying to help.

 

My 5 yr old is the recycling and garbage police at our house so she had a few words too.

 

I think just taking the time to explain it to people as the subject comes up is a reasonable way to handle it. The check-out lady was very receptive to what we said, although when we left she called out "remember to stay on the trails!" :)

I'd reply (as was the case in Golden Gate Park) "Only when I have to leave them to get to the big deposits of beer bottles, pizza cartons and energy bar wrappers."

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Great thread to open OP!

 

And guys, organizing CITO events with press invites is of course a great suggestion.

 

Whatever you do, press cheat sheets are your friend. I'll be blunt and say that many of the reporters I work with will fail to do a correct or fair story for cachers for a whole grab bag or reasons which include, sloth, low comprehension, and sensationalist tendencies.

 

The main reason is that they don't comprehend the information that is on the site. This is usually because they first hear a police PIO tell them the wrong information and then don't catch the differences when they read from the primary source.

 

Another reason in this area is because most of the time a reporter even "cares" about geocaching, it is because of a breaking news bomb scare that they have to turn a package for in less than a couple of hours.

 

Then there are the sensationalist freaks that will always find the downside. They'll do that on their own. So I completely agree with making sure to magnify the tangible positives on the media forums. Remember to send copies of your comments and contact info for you or your caching group's PR guy to the News Director, Assistant News Director, the reporter and the Assignment Editor. Most of those contacts can be found on the stations or paper's website.

 

When you give the reporters or photographers a simplified cheat sheet and/or well put together packet, that is likely what they will write from. If the station previews your event, they will write directly from the PRESS RELEASE that is in their e-mail inbox.

 

No, you can't control what the assignment editors, producers and news directors focus on. But, you can sure the heck affect it GREATLY!

 

EDIT: Make sure to say the same things on the cheat sheet and geocaching.com explanations in recorded interviews too!

Edited by scorpio_dark
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The press is always going to love a controversy, even if it involves a forest defender that is the work of one or two people. This article was a nice response, pointing out that the caches are there with permission and that cachers act responsibly. The letterboxer in the picture does not look like someone who is trying to destroy the forest.

 

After having done media with several different type of organizations, I eventually learned to to keep it short, keep it simple, be accurate, provide a good sound bite, and hope they do not misquote you. The latter is probably a totally optimistic reaction.

Edited by Erickson
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I printed up a dozen of the Groundspeak pamphlets describing what geocaching is and gave them to a friend of mine who's a policeman. He had never heard of geocaching. I asked him to spread them around at the police station. He passed them around and found a lot of other policemen who hadn't heard of it either. If it keeps just one geocacher from getting arrested, it's worth it.

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I was in the thrift store with my 5 yr old today buying some swag items. The subject of swag and geocaching was brought up by my daughter at the cash register, the lady ringing us up says she just saw a news story about people destroying caches because of not wanting people to go off trails and look for them.

 

I explained to her how sad that was. How much we love getting outdoors as a family and that we always bring bags with us to PICK UP garbage along trails and the beach. That cachers are the ones out there actually trying to help.

 

My 5 yr old is the recycling and garbage police at our house so she had a few words too.

 

I think just taking the time to explain it to people as the subject comes up is a reasonable way to handle it. The check-out lady was very receptive to what we said, although when we left she called out "remember to stay on the trails!" :)

I'd reply (as was the case in Golden Gate Park) "Only when I have to leave them to get to the big deposits of beer bottles, pizza cartons and energy bar wrappers."

 

I have never actually herd anything negative in my area about geocaching. Any one who has herd something of it doesn't have anything bad to say about it.

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