The Crier, The Glue, The Word, and The Arrow

Go back a few hundred years and if you wanted to get the word out you may well have chosen the town square as your forum.

An important figure in many towns was the town crier, especially in the days before widespread literacy. A crier is an officer of the court, and their job is to make public announcements – everything from market days, births, deaths, and reminding the locals not to urinate in the river when water’s being drawn for brewing beer.

Some towns permitted advertisements to be placed through the crier, but if your town did not allow for it (or you didn’t have a crier at all), you’d have to look at other options.

The main one was print – perhaps the most effective method being a version of what we now call a billboard.

Big, bold, to the point. No need for nuance, just keep it simple (and cost-effective – you probably paid by the letter). 

You’d get it glued in place somewhere prominent for all to see.

WANTED.

FOR SALE.

TONIGHT!

Then there was of course word of mouth. Very powerful when an idea really spreads, but messages can get confused or lost – especially when it’s not something that’s for everyone.

A fourth route to take may have been something more cryptic. A note,  a puzzle, pinned into place by an archer’s dart. Hard to spot, just off the beaten track, set back a couple of trees back from the path.

The note probably doesn’t contain the full message, the full answer. It requires the reader to interpret and action it for themselves. It’s short, sketched, quizzical, and often leads somewhere else – perhaps nowhere in particular, or perhaps into a fascinating quest. It’s easy to miss and easy to ignore, but for the right recipient it’s hard to resist. 

And it’s worth noting that the archery skills can often be just as important as the contents of the note – just as a town crier lacking storytelling ability won’t get too far.

Back to today, and these four options are still available – they just look a little different on the surface.

The influential messenger.

The big splash.

The pass-it-on.

The hidden signal.

All of them can be effective. The important part is to know which mediums and messages matter most to you.

[1] Most of what you’ll read on this blog are notes pinned by arrows.

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