EDITOR’S NOTE | By Bret Bradigan
The Stories We Tell, and Why
I recently had a heated conversation with a friend, because they made a mildly disparaging comment about advertising. It wasn’t meant personally, and goodness knows I’ve probably felt the same way every time I get sucked into some Daily Mail-style clickbait blackhole. It felt very personally for me, for reasons I was at pains to explain. But really it’s simple, advertising is how I make my living, and is the whole point of every publishing enterprise.
There’s an old newsroom adage: “Whatever someone doesn’t want you to know is news. Everything else is advertising.”
Advertising gets a bad rap. And that’s not a surprise. We are constantly faced with clever schemes to steal our attention with clickbait hype and deceitful claims, sucking us into a dank dark hole that wastes our most precious resource – time.
The reason it works is because people chase that fix of gratification, only to feel used and made into a consumer of things we don’t need or want.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can reach people and give them a satisfying experience. Really reach them. Through the stories we tell.
Stories are the architecture of our human experience. It is how we know ourselves, and each other. Stories are the connective tissue of our community.
A Psychology Today article from 2010 says it better than I: “Story connects us all. Children, adults, all of us everywhere can use the magic of story to find aspects of ourselves in others, and of others in ourselves. Story reminds us that connectedness to the world does not always mean some have more and some have less, but that we all have stories and that is what brings us together.” Stories are the treasures that transcend generations, connecting us to our culture and to each other.
But it seems like far too often we are treated not as an audience, but as consumers, lemming-like consumers of the next bright, shiny object. Taking a step back from the situation, I realized that what we do in Ojai is much different. But why?
The Ojai Quarterly doesn’t have consumers, we have readers. These tens of thousands of people willingly spend their time with us because they know we care about our community. By advertising through the OQ, local businesses can put their message in front of those many people, in an appreciative, thoughtful way, because they know those businesses share our commitment to this special place.
Through our award-winning writers and photographers, through our fresh and thoughtful design, we place those messages in front of receptive eyes, people who are already invested in the ideas, and ideals, of this astonishing place we call home.
So next time you feel overwhelmed by pop-up ads and the endless vacuum of advertising messages, please keep this in mind: not all ads are created equal. Some are people who share your love for this community, and are trying to make this a better place. That’s why we do what do.