Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Way Things Used to Be - Does Word of Mouth Still Work?

Not long ago, I was sitting at my computer on a perfectly still summer morning when I heard a strange buzz.
Morgan Mandel and Rascal
Suddenly, the computer, the lights, and all the electricity shut down. My first reaction was to check whether our house was the only one off the grid.

I opened the front door, stepped out, and saw a number of my neighbors already outside. One asked if she was the only one without power. That gave me my answer. I called the electric company, only to learn the problem was being investigated.

Feeling curious, I decided to take my dog for her second walk of the day, this time around the neighborhood. Maybe I could discover the cause of the outage. 

Rascal and I headed across the street and up the block, where one of her doggie friends happened to be in her fenced yard. As the dogs greeted each other, I spoke to the owner, who said she'd heard the culprit was a tree on a power line. I wondered if she was correct. 

I spotted electric company trucks and followed where they'd turned. An electric company representative confirmed that a huge tree had fallen on the power lines and it might take some time for power to be restored. 

Being a pleasant day, I continued walking with Rascal, this time around the park, where children were playing on the swings, and younger ones were being walked in their strollers. The scene reminded me of the way things used to be when I was young, before the Internet and various gadgets made their appearance. 

We started to head back when we ran into more dog owners, who were throwing balls and playing fetch with their dogs. I mentioned it seemed we were all out with our dogs, since, without power, we had nothing better to do. Before I could relay the reason, one of the dog owners beat me to it, by mentioning the tree on the lines. I didn't spoil his revelation by saying I already knew.

Almost two hours later, power was restored. However, the incident left me with some observations to share. 

If we let it, electricity and all the gadgets we've come to rely on can exert more power than we realize. Even on nice days, it's way too easy to stay indoors and play with our adult toys, instead of enjoying the pleasant weather, not to mention the company of real live people. 

And about those neighbors--wasn't it strange that although the electric company phone message offered no reason for the outage, almost all of my neighbors had gone out of their way to investigate the cause, and  spread the word.

Wow, word of mouth still lives! 

Okay, eventually, you knew I'd mention something about books in this post. For one thing, I'm glad I can use a computer now instead of using an olden days typewriter. It's so much easier to edit my books this way. 

I confess to being guilty of shutting out the world during and after writing my books. I also rely heavily on the Internet for promotion. Given that word of mouth is obviously still powerful, I really should make an effort to reach people in person. It's a fun change of pace talking to real live people, instead of the imaginary ones in my head.


Experience the diversity & versatility of Morgan Mandel. Romantic Comedies: Her Handyman & its sequel, A Perfect Angel, or the standalone reality show romance: Girl of My DreamsThriller: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. & its Collection Sequel: the Blessing or Curse CollectionRomantic suspense: Killer Career. Mystery: Two WrongsTwitter:@MorganMandel Websites: Morgan Mandel.Com Morgan Does Chick Lit.Com

10 comments :

  1. In person word of mouth is still great, but for those of us who live in the boonies, thank goodness for being able to reach people from our homes. But nothing like a power outage to show you how much we rely on electricity. Ours was out for about 3 hours a while back. I got a lot of reading done!

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    1. Modern technology is a blessing, but it's nice to take advantage of the human touch if you can.

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  2. It is kind of neat when something unexpected happens like this, and we are able to see the benefits. The ten days we were without power after a storm in Omaha NE some years ago turned out to be such an enlightening experience on some levels. And it did bring neighbors together in a special way.

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    1. Yes, it's amazing how people bond during problem situations.

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  3. I remember while growing up the women would see each other out back and talk over the fences. Then in the fair-weather evenings, everyone would congregate in their lawn chairs and talk. Porch visits are a dying social phenomenon.

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    1. Too true, Diana. We've lost something precious for the sake of progress.

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  4. In the "good old days," everybody on the block knew one another, and neighborhood picnics were annual events. Now I know only the neighbors in the other half of my duplex, but I have connections all over the world--and I wouldn't recognize a single one of them if I were to pass them on the street. Electronics and technology are incredible tools, but they don't replace people. Word of mouth, on the other hand, provides very effective PR when it comes to books (and a lot of other things). This in no way is meant to devalue Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, publicity agents and distributors, or any other of today's means of advertising. Perhaps the secret lies in keeping technology in its proper place rather than letting it rule our lives. We might even get to know our neighbors. :-)

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    1. Not even as many block parties in our neighborhood, like their used to be.

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  5. Not sure if you were like me and lived in The Bahamas if you would still enjoy a power outage. We have so many of them that it's frustrating beyond words. And, although I can be a bit of a recluse staying inside to write and avoid the heat, I do take breaks, but never need to verify - word of mouth, or otherwise, who zapped the current, as there is only one company here for that and they get the blame unanimously. However, my two dogs and I agree - word of mouth still works wonders - no matter what.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is amazing how well word of mouth works. And, I do love my electricity!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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