Today is International Town Criers Day. They were the social media of their day, the fastest way to get messages spread around the country. They delivered important messages, messages from the king and government. They also read out the reasons for hanging someone at their execution, but that’s been somewhat glossed over!
What can you learn from them?
Red and gold coats and a tricorn hat
Those town criers knew how to stand out. They were distinctive, not something that you could miss on market day or amongst a crowd.
Oyez, oyez, oyez
Literally translates as hear ye, a cry for silence. Would be nice if that still worked, wouldn’t it?
Today you’ll have to work a bit harder and be more distinctive if you’re going to get attention. You’ll need great blog titles, captivating tweets, eye-catching images…it’s a whole lot more work than just yelling “Oyez” at the top of the voice.
But then there are a whole lot more town criers than there were. If you get a whole load of town criers together, it’s apparently called a bellow. Which is what all the content and messages being directed at your customers can seem like to them. Find a way for yours to be the message they look out for, and you won’t have to bellow.
Ringing a hand bell
Just in case people hadn’t noticed the coat or heard the Oyez call, the town crier also rang a handbell.
These guys got that not everyone notices your first announcement.
Maybe not even your second, so they kept going.
When you create content, then maybe someone missed when you first published it. Maybe they’re not on your mailing list. Perhaps they don’t look at Twitter at 8 am when you tweeted. Or Facebook isn’t their thing. Or even that Facebook didn’t show your post to them that day.
They say that you have to promote your content just to the point where you feel a bit uncomfortable. Then that’s probably about right.
Posting a notice
And then on top of the coat, the hat, the shouting and the bell ringing, then they posted the written notice onto the door of the local inn. Theirs were the original posts. In fact, it’s the origin of why so many newspapers have “post” in their titles.
This was the recap, the repromote, the repurposing of their content.
A bit like promoting the heck out of it in the first place, repurposing your content helps you to reach new audiences. It makes the most out of your efforts. Think about what content is always going to be useful, the evergreen content that people are always going to be looking for.
As a freelance writer for small businesses then the most regular question I get is about how to create content people love. That post probably needs some new love. I’ll be taking the town criers’ advice on that one.
Don’t shoot the messenger
This phrase also comes from the history of the town crier. They didn’t always deliver good news; they might come and announce a tax increase for example. In the end, they became protected by law, messengers from the monarchy.
These days there is no one protecting your message. There are plenty of people waiting to shoot down your message. But your tribe will also support your message. Or you might decide to take the fight to people and be controversial. Some businesses thrive on that. It’s your choice.
Just be ready for the fight.
In my writing for businesses, I work with them to find out what their stance is. It’s all about the voice of your brand, and what you want to be known for. Sometimes your tribe is very distinctive, and you need and want to just talk to them. Being distinctive and not for everyone is better than being beige and not for anyone.
We might not have town criers in every town any more, but your content is your brand crier. Get out there in your version of the fancy coat, and ring that handbell. Your message is just as valid. And probably doesn’t include tax increases.
Photo courtesy of Chester Town Criers.