Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are You Creating Pablum?

Pablum - the ultimate pejorative? 

Actually, Pablum was a breakthrough medical product created by a team of Canadian pediatricians in the 1930s to prevent rickets, a crippling childhood disease. It was a vitamin packed and digestible mush made from a mixture of ground and precooked wheat, oatmeal, yellow corn meal, bone meal, dried brewers yeast, and powdered alfalfa leaf -- all fortified with reduced iron. 

Sounds yummy, doesn't it?

Pablum had everything these doctors knew would be good for sick or at risk babies. And it seemed to help. So what if it tasted like wallpaper paste! It was good for you!

How interesting that pablum has come to define worthless, oversimplified, insipid or bland communication or information. Perhaps the problem with this sort of communication is similar to what might have been going through the minds of those well-meaning pediatricians eighty years ago. They might have been more focused on solving the problem at hand then in making the product appealing. In their instance, that might be justified. For a charity today, it is not.

Are we more focused on making sure the recipient of our messages or solicitations is informed about our great need than making our message compelling? Is it more important that the reader understand what is important to us -- our charity -- than for us to find a way to connect with the reader or donor's interests? Is that the reason for so many uninspired "wish lists", droning "opportunities to give", and endless tomes harping on needs, rather than stirring stories of actions and outcomes?

Let's think about what inspires and motivates us. Is it incessant begging and cajoling? Or, is it that rare and rousing tale from the heart that touches us and moves us to make a difference?

Oh, and it should be noted that Pablum became even more commercially popular when the manufacturer added flavored versions. 

Imagine that.

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