Spreading the word on Livestrong

Words for Thought

There is something strange about word of mouth – when it works, and when it does not. Following an intense publicity campaign, I am always amazed to hear, “Why, I had no idea about this.” As an example, consider the new “Y” that opened recently in the Village of Manlius.

To begin with the YMCA purchased the old Eastside Racquet Club on Seneca Street (Route 173). This was announced in the usual media, including the Eagle Bulletin, along with the Y’s plans to renovate the facility to include fitness programs and equipment. With remarkable speed, the Manlius Y opened in July amid a blitz of publicity, especially to all members via email and life-size posters at the existing Fayetteville YMCA. What happened when facilities at the Fayetteville branch were unavailable for a few days in August, and members were directed to Manlius? Given all the publicity, exclamations of, “I didn’t know this was here!” were unbelievably common. So what does it take to get the word out? It is mysterious.

One thing about word of mouth, I think, is that it is incredibly slow to get going. Then, on an exponential curve, once it reaches a certain speed, it takes off like a supersonic jet. I also believe the adage “bad news travels fast” is true, and that it is much harder to publicize something new, than when taking something away.

Let me tell you about another program at the YMCA that should be written with stars in the heavens. Livestrong is a program at all the Y’s in the greater Syracuse area which is open to the public. That is right — you do not have to be a member, it is completely free to Livestrong participants. Livestrong is a national program for adult cancer patients and survivors (actually, you are considered a survivor from day one of diagnosis), and that is the only prerequisite. Childcare is provided, free. You have access to all Y facilities and programs, seven days a week, free. Special guidance is available to breast cancer patients, free. Trainers are provided two days a week (locally on Tuesday and Thursday), free.

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