Why do Cadets dis CONTACT?
Cadets are a segment of the Defence-focused community I have always believed should be CONTACT lovers. Yet it seems this demographic is just not digging CONTACT – and I don’t understand why.
Australian Defence Force Cadets is a community-based youth-development organisation focused on Defence customs, traditions and values.
As cadets, young people between the ages of 12 and 19 learn leadership, team building, military and survival skills that will set them up for life – and a career in the ADF.
There are approximately 25,000 cadets and staff in 440 units throughout Australia. And yet, according to our surveys, our readership contains just over 4% cadets – or fewer than 350 out of those 25,000.
CONTACT is about Defence and military matters generally. More importantly, it is focused on the people in Defence. So, in my mind, CONTACT should be of supreme interest to anyone who is interested in Defence, its activities and its people.
Hell, every issue of CONTACT even has a Cadet Corner, with two, three or even four pages about Cadets themselves.
And it’s FREE!
I don’t think anyone would argue that CONTACT is of no interest to Cadets.
So, in theory, if Cadets should/would love CONTACT if they read it or knew about it, then the problem must surely be that they don’t actually know about CONTACT.
But, how can I get it in front of them?
I have offered CONTACT to Defence and Cadet HQ for free, even when we were charging for it in newsagents. They said, “No thanks – we can’t be seen to endorse a commercial product”.
I asked Defence to buy a paid subscription from me to give to Cadets – even at knockdown prices. Again, same answer (which in my mind was an invalid argument given that they pay Jane’s Defence Weekly (a commercial product) more than $1.2million a year*).
I’ve advertised in Defence newspapers. I’ve even sought out the official point-of-contact email address for every Cadet unit in the country and sent them CONTACT by default.
But, not only do these official PoC email recipients not pass on CONTACT to the cadets in their units, a good proportion of them requested to be unsubscribed from my mailing list.
And when I politely asked a couple of them ‘why’, I got abusive responses threatening to report me as a spammer.
So – all in all, I get the feeling Cadets actually hate CONTACT. They certainly don’t embrace it.
But I won’t give up trying to win their love and attention.
I’m determined to turn them around.
I’ve even started a new Facebook page especially for Cadets – www.facebook.com/contactcadets
So far, it’s attracted all of 10 fans!!!
So, if you are a Cadet or Cadet staff, or if you know a Cadet, please pass this information on and please please please ask them to like CONTACT.
I’m not feeling the love just yet.
FOLLOW-UP POST: “Further proof that Cadets (or at least their hierarchy) hate CONTACT“ .
* Department of Defence – Senate Order 192 – Departmental and Agency Contracts 2012-13 Financial Year Contracts Listing
8 thoughts on “Why do Cadets dis CONTACT?”
Brian, My son and his mates are all forwarded the e-copies as I receive them. Have not heard a negative comment to date via my son etc. Maybe aiming at the Social Media outlet like FB as you have done is a good start. I have also forwarded to their respective Cadet Unit OC for consideration. Though am thinking that they would not “rock the boat” as they have to go cap in hand for so much equipment these days. Maintain your rage and direction.
Maintain the rage. I like it.
Appealing to Cadets is an interesting challenge. Having spent the last five years with a cadet in my house I can understand your frustration and have some insights which may be useful. These viewpoints are well foundered as I am a qualified secondary educator and my wife is a Kindy to Gr12 Librarian. Tip 1: Part of a school librarian’s job is developing a fondness of reading in the pupils under her tutelage. In Primary students, this is often not a hard task however motivating Secondary students to read anything that is not required for their school work can be nay on impossible. Hence the reluctance is not just reading Contact magazine, it is a resistance to read anything not directly related to school assignments. Tip 2: 12 to 18 year olds are going through massive changes physically, mentally and emotionally and a lot of them are fully ‘spent’ just coming to terms with what is changing in and around them. They are becoming familiar with the new length of their arms and legs and other novelties which can attract unwanted attention e.g. acne, Facebook etc. Some of the doses of hormones surging through their bodies, if it was a prescribed medical dose, would be regarded by AIDA and other authority organisations as overdoses. Hence just sitting quietly, let-alone reading anything, is the furthest thing from their minds. Tip 3: Having had close contact with the staff members at my daughter’s cadet unit over the past few years, I have observed that their Cadet responsibility is often a second job, sometimes voluntary, and can be unrewarding. Let’s face it they have to deal with hormonal teenagers and their parents! I liken this task to trying to shovel live toads into a wheelbarrow. In summary, if they are threatening with reporting you as a Spammer, in English this actually means “I don’t have the time right now. Stop bothering me.” Personally I think you should lauded with praise for persevering with the cadets/cadet units in attempting to influence them in a positive way with contemporary journalistic articles on current events and state-of-the-art equipment. Maybe you should consider that a cadet readership of 4% is a good result and that 10 fans on the Facebook page is just the start of a Contact coup.
Hi John. I hear you man. With two daughters, I well know the moods 🙂
That said, though, the uphill battle to get them to read anything at all was won, in our house, the day Harry Potter was born 🙂
I have circulated several of Contact’s Cadets’ Corners in our Naval Cadet Unit and, whilst the cadets like it, many parents regarded Contact as “too military”. They are very happy with the military orientation of the youth development and opportunities aspect of the Cadets organisation, but are not so keen on the “warlike” presentation of Contact, and I can appreciate their concerns.
Hi Stephen. Thanks for reminding me of that attitude. I have actually come across it before.
I don’t understand it, of course. I could give you some smart-allec analogy like “it’s akin to letting all Americans carry guns and then wonder why gun crime is so high” – but I won’t.
I’ll say it straight… Cadets is as much a great youth development organisation (which I agree with and support) as it is a great Defence Force recruiting tool – that’s ultimately what it’s designed and funded to achieve.
I’m not saying this in any negative way though – except to highlight the profound naivety of parents who think they are sheltering their kids from evil by dising CONTACT while guiding their loved ones down the garden path to a career in Army, Navy or Air Force.
Like I said, I don’t understand the attitude – I just know it’s there and have to fight against it.
You are going to have to do a win their hearts aspect.
Are you a good photo journalist, ask the Defence Force to do a article and future articles on Cadets and ask permission to publish in your magazine as there are quite a lot of veterans and very interested parties who support all things Defence Force.
Stress how important it is to inform our public who and what the Cadet Forces do, you’d be surprised how many parents haven’t heard of Cadets and are looking to put their kids into something worthwhile.
Perhaps suggest a photo book of all Cadet Forces with some of the proceeds being DONATED for Cadet Recruitment or acquisitions outside Defence Force Funding.
Being seen as an outside recruiter may break ground with the top knobs (meant in a kind way).
Once you’re seen as a true supporter and not a commercial entity foremost, may be doors will open.
You could align yourself with Members of Parliament who have done the ‘walk’ and those who are involved in youth development programmes who could support your views,
You have probably thought of these things yourself?
Us Kiwis try not to go through the front door but use the back door or side window from military to business, it may take time, always look for opportunities one can take advantage of.
Thanks Bruce. I love your thinking. And, of course, my article above is sort of an attempt to break the glass in the side window 🙂
I do of course communicate with official PR Officers for Cadets, but they are few and far between and often don’t think beyond a Facebook post when something good happens in their unit.
This in itself is Defence’s fault, in that local PR Reps and commanders are free to run and post to Facebook, but if they want to send me the same story for CONTACT, then they have to jump through a complex and onerous clearance process – even if it’s the exact same story. So the result is, they just post to Facebook. Which is fine – because I can then trawl through the various FB pages and syphon the info off there. Not ideal, but gets me enough to fill the 2, 3 or 4 pages of pure Cadet news I do actually run in every issue of CONTACT.
And now, of course, I also have my own ContactCadets page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/contactcadets/) where I more frequently surf around the official Cadets pages and share the best in this one place.
Anyway, thanks again for your feedback. Much appreciated.