Communication breakdowns and how they negatively affect EVERYTHING they touch

Grab a beverage, you'll need it to get through this.

I have been working to help riders find great information on events and causes that are happening in our community for 16 years. When we had a physical newspaper to hand out, everyone that ever read it understood that I was a writer, an editor and publisher of a newspaper. People looked forward to their Busted Knuckle Chronicles and it's jokes and information.

They also understood, (because we printed the events calendars in the newspaper monthly), that we ran Canada's BEST motorcycle events calendars.  When we had a physical Rider Friendly Business Association directory that we could hand out, everyone loved the maps and information, now that it's digital, they don't seem to know how to find it.

Digital Media and Social Media seem to have truly changed the way people take in information.

Road Trip Rita
Road Trip Rita, my beloved beaver mascot and her colouring pages on the back of ride/drive scavenger hunt maps, lent to a natural phenomenon. ADULTS COLOURING while drinking adult beverages and chewing on crayons at bike rallies.  It was hilariously good fun and a ton of people participated all for a shot of JD as the prize. I decided to round up a great prize package - Camping for Two at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, some Choice Hotel points, meal cards, gas card and voila, a great trip worth about $1000 Canadian was on the line. We'd sell colouring pages for $10 - 50% would go back to the event and 50% would help pay some of the volunteer's expenses to come run the event. (Or people could become members of the CMTA and colour for free.)

I reached out to some events that I wanted to support and work with.
Events that I thought would benefit from the whole "STURGIS BUFFALO CHIP" name.
I explained to these event coordinators that we'd take their poker run and turn it into a ride/drive scavenger hunt map that highlighted regional attractions, we'd put free ads for their events on the maps. We'd put a colouring image on the back for the colouring competitions to win a shot at a trip for two to Sturgis. And, if they would help me sell the ads, I would kick back some funds to their cause, and we'd be able to promote their entire region and all of their sponsors to all kinds of tourists all year round in print, digital, web and social. The price points are all under $500 a year.
I thought it was win - win.
  • I told them I would film an episode of my TV Show, "Ride Like a Local", for EastLink TV, from their event.
  • We'd promote their event through our events calendars and our newspaper "The Busted Knuckle Chronicles both before and after". 
  • I also expressed that I'd do a write up on their event after the fact, and those articles would potentially appear in the Northern Horizon and Colorado Rider News and that we'd also be promoting through the CMTA the Canadian Motorcycle Tourism Association
I'd need a place to stay, a piece of the floor, not fussy, just on a tight budget.
We'd need a table or two and a place with adult beverages and lights where people could colour.

I reached out to a number of events, some agreed to participate others opted out.
It was explained to all that co/cross-promotion was key, if every event promoted their participation in the contest, it would be great exposure for all the events as I had created one meme with all the dates. All they really had to do was share them, far and wide.

In spite of the really cold and awful weather, our first event in Two Hills (The Lakeland Motorcycle Trade Show and Swap Meet) was a success with a number of people becoming members of the Canadian Motorcycle Tourism Association (because of all the great prizes we give away) and or those who paid the $10 to colour.  They coloured, we laughed - it was great fun!

We picked the winners, gave them their swag prizes and I turned my focus to getting prepared for the next events in 6, 7 and 8 weeks time.

And that's where the wheels all but fell off the bus.  (We did have some successes).

The first cancellation was the Devin Seguin Memorial Rally as the volunteer who was going to run the competition had to cancel. Eugene was unable to find a replacement volunteer, and I was unsuccessful. So that event had to be cancelled. There was no way I could be at two on events the same weekend. I was supposed to be in central Alberta at an event, and Kristine, my part time admin was going to Hafford SK, and so I simply didn't have the hands to help me now.

Because Hafford Saskatchewan won Canada's MOST Rider Friendly Community contest, (again one of our efforts to promote rural communities and events), my volunteer agreed to attend their Show 'n' Shine with our contest and to film some B Roll footage of their event.  They were pleased as punch, promoted the fact like crazy and in spite of the deluge of rain that they endured, they had 6 colouring competition entries from their event.

They gave away their swag bag prizes and we gave up the third prize of Beaver Rub.
James Rosso from Manitoba moved on to the finals.

The Second Cancellation: An event in southern Saskatchewan on Father's Day weekend.
We had created a ride/drive map for their poker run route, it was corrected and corroborated on as many of their roads are not recommended for travel on a touring bike. No one felt they could help us to sell ads or even suggest businesses to us. They were scared it would hurt their ability to get sponsorships for their event.

And apparently the person doing their website felt I was a demanding $#@% and decided to berate me publicly for telling them I needed help to find a hotel for my volunteer due to her other accommodations falling through two weeks before the event. I told them I did not want her staying with their host hotel. We did not get the map ads sold that would have funded the expenses to host the contest and pay our volunteer for their fuel, meals etc.  We had to rely on sales at the event, and that wasn't a great option especially with no cross promotion going on and the distance she had to travel.

There had been communication challenges with this group right from the beginning, in that the person who was supposed to do the cross promoting, the web guy, felt he hadn't been given enough information to cross promote and didn't appreciate me asking why it wasn't being cross promoted.
I had given all of that information to one of the heads of the event, by email, but apparently his email was hacked and so he never got it. That one incident alone had me labelled as a high maintenance ####. within their group.  As I said earlier we had ONE meme promoting all of the colouring events.
Technology STRIKES, creating a HUGE communication breakdown that then escalated!
I told my volunteer to cancel the room we had finally found her, because we would not be going to promote an event, write articles for my paper, the Northern Horizon paper or Colorado Rider News, or edit a TV episode which costs me huge money out of my pocket, never mind my time to prep everything for editing, plus the value of the donated air time, $6,500 from EastLink, on people who would publicly berate a person calling them a name disparaging name on social media.
Why should we offer up over $10K in marketing work and product only to be treated that way?

There would be no good that would come from that relationship.  
This new board isn't like the old guys I used to work with.
I expressed my frustration and regret and apologized in pm's and said that if I in any way upset someone because of how they interpreted the written word, please know it was not my intent to ever do anything but help. And with that, that event was cancelled.

We agreed to take on the Fire 'N' Wheels Rally in Edgerton
In spite of huge deluges of rain and no lights in the beer gardens, we still had a group of people colour by the light of their cell phones and they all got their prizes. Cody won at the Edgerton Event, for the life of me I can not find his contact information that I thought I saved in my new phone, so hopefully Dawn will remember who he is! His art moved to the finals.

The Third Cancellation: An event in central Alberta event, not only were we going to come to their event with the contest for Sturgis, the TV Show, articles for the paper, but I had also helped to facilitate it so that a young man with a physical impairment was going to be attending this event and that he'd be the motorcycling bad arse for the day! (The story on Tyler's Ride will be published in our paper soon).  Sadly his story did not get captured for TV as a result of the communications breakdown with these event folks at the event in central Alberta.

Anyway, I had created a map centred around their poker run, found all sorts of attractions to take photos at, and they had agreed to help sell the ads as they were talking to sponsors. After not hearing back from them in spite of numerous messages left, I was about to give up when I was finally got a call back, only to be yelled at that they were volunteers, and working 16 hours a day at work and they didn't even have time to promote or organize their own event much less sell advertising for mine.

Keep in mind they would have profited off the map financially and in many other ways - here's the link to the Two Hills map page for you to see some of the promoting these businesses, regions, events and attractions are getting.

I said to the one gent, "You couldn't have called and told me you were struggling? Perhaps given me a list of people to reach out to? You couldn't call me back weeks ago so I could have adjusted things to make this happen?"  I knew right then and there that I did not want to work with people that would treat me that way. Nothing good comes from a place of hurt, let down, frustration. In this case, the communication breakdown was caused by them not returning calls or emails.

So, with the announcement of the High Level $10,000 Guaranteed Poker Run and the fire up there, I decided we will just take the contest north and help out in our own backyard and because we partner with Mackenzie Frontier Tourism we already had a ride/drive Scavenger Hunt Map made with a colouring sheet on the back.

The Fourth Cancellation:  High Level is re-evacuated and Fat Boys Motorcycle Association has to postpone the poker run till September. No one's fault there, it is just Mother Nature and you may as well not fight with her cause you will never win.

Then there was this event that I attended this past weekend.
It was to be the grand finale.

We were going to choose a winner to go to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip after the riders coloured on Saturday night.

Like all of the other events that were originally to be part of this and not add on or fill ins, I had arrangements with these folks to come film for TV, to write for my newspaper and two magazines, run our Sturgis Giveaway Colouring Competition and again, they were told  that we needed to create a map of the area, to help support this contest, and could this person help me?  Yes was the answer.

Well, after several months of calling, leaving emails etc, just as I am about to look into another event to see if they would want to participate, I get a call telling me about some illness in the family and obstacles that are being faced.  No problem, get me a list and we'll see what we can do.
Two weeks later, I get a list, by this time there is not enough time left to sell and print etc so I decide to use colouring pages that we'd photocopy and the lady said she'd get them made for me if I sent her the photo to be copied.

Last Sunday I spent the day in emergency with what is suspected gallbladder issues, so I called the organizer on Monday.

I expressed that I wasn't feeling well, and asked would there be some place I could stay that would be really affordable as my other plans had fallen through? I don't tent as I have no gear. She said had a sponsor she could put me in touch with for a cheap room and then asked me if it was just me coming and I said yes. She said she had a shed with a double bed, no windows and that it was the only thing left that she had, her last resort accommodations. I told her I'd take it with gratitude.  I had told her not to worry about the colouring sheets either, that I'd bring maps from elsewhere and again expressed my thanks for her helping me be able to attend.  She said to me "Thank you for all you do dear, we appreciate it"

So I leave Grande Prairie on Thursday in horrendous, unrelenting rain. I get as far as Cochrane and spend the night in a motel and get up Friday to ride through more rain to head for the event.
I know this event, I have attended it before and it's a good time, they always have really good music.
I also detest the road to get into it.  
It's very slippery when wet and it's filled with washboard and potholes.
It also happens to be a few kilometres long. I know of several riders who have complained about the damage their bikes have endured, everything from cracked saddlebags and fairings to broken shocks etc.

I had decided that when I got to town, I'd leave my bike in town; it's heavily loaded down and there was no way I wanted to run the risk of my machine breaking down.

I called my friend Barry who came up to Lordco Parts in a borrowed truck and helped me reattached the signal light bar that had vibrated a bolt out, and once Doc was tweaked, we loaded my cameras, tripods, colouring gear etc into the truck and off we went.

I had my membership card and ticket, so getting the wrist band and toilet paper roll was no problem, but when it came to where I was supposed to stay, the lady who runs the event claims she did not remember talking to me.

She had no accommodations for me, no sponsor that would be willing to help me with a reasonably priced room and since this was a charity thing I was doing, there is no way she'd give me a free place to stay at the venue because the accommodations were meant for paying guests.
So she would never have agreed to that. This is after all a for profit event and how they make their living.

Now I also know that the lady's husband suffered burns in an accident earlier in the week and that she was overwhelmed, however, I was basically called a liar and was left to feel that what I offer has no value and I was left to fend for myself.

All I kept saying was "I wished I could remember what she called this shed because she had a name for it, if I could just get her to remember our conversation", but no....The man whose truck was used to pick me up at Lordco was an event volunteer, and he chastised me for being upset stating, "You should be grateful, it was my truck used to haul you down here for free, I didn't have to do that." "No, you are right, you didn't have to, thank you for allowing that," was all I could say.

I ended up staying in the back of an SUV of a lady I didn't know before the event, who was kind enough to offer it me, foamy and all.  I was hurting with a (suspected) gallbladder attack, I was cold, miserable, and none of my friends had room in their tents! Now I was at the mercy of the kindness of strangers.

And those strangers were so kind.  I can not thank them enough. Roland, Debbie, Andrew, Theresa and the rest of the crew tenting in behind the big tipi. The company, coffee and food was so welcomed and appreciated.

In the morning I decided that if the promotion and marketing that we do for this particular FOR PROFIT event is not needed, wanted or appreciated, then I'd best head home.
Nothing good was going to come from me trying to persuade this woman that we had talked and I had not been able to work this out in my head, to let it go. How to resolve it and how to be positive and happy in front of tons of people when really all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry?
I could not have stayed and promoted something fun, I was "Debbie Downer" as I was very hurt.
No one attending the event deserved my hurt feelers or the sour attitude that I just could not shake.

I had expectations for this event to be a great one for our non profit and all the good work we do, and also to reward someone for daring to let their inner child out. I had, in spite of not feeling well, been so excited to be going back to this event. I was looking forward to the people I was going to get to see and interview and the fun of choosing a winner to win the $1000 vacation package for the Sturgis Buffalo Chip.

I have to remember that because people do not see the injury I deal with they have no idea it's there or if they know me, they forget it's there and unwittingly, many folks end up poking at my tender spots, causing the pain that I deal with to become dark and overwhelming.

I have to remember that at all times, even when I feel like I am at my "normal". I need to wear that like an armour so that the words and actions of others don't affect me on a personal level. I have to remember to remove myself from situations that upset me to preserve my dignity and sanity.

Yesterday I did not really feel capable of sucking it up.  I needed a good long ride to clear my head. It's the best way I know of for dealing with the grip of PTSD  brought on by rejection, fear, devaluation, bullying and the emotional sewer your brain becomes when those things happens.

The lady whose SUV I slept in, drove me to my bike and I headed home.
Thank you for your kindness Mama T.
I rode steady and because I didn't encounter any rain, was able to make it door to door in 12 hours.

Today, as I look back at what was put together in an attempt to help people cross market their events, sponsors, communities and causes and to help each other, I can see the successes.
And it's clear who those successes were with. The smaller, newer non profit events.
They know they have to market hard in order to get noticed.

I can see those situations that turned into learning curves and I can even see the lessons I am meant to learn from all of this.

A hand shake, a verbal or written agreement on how people would proceed for one purpose - to promote each other was always good enough for me. Today, even a written agreement can and will be disputed as people read intonation and intent into written words, where none actually existed.

Out of 8 event coordinators that I was to work with 3 of those events were reasonably successful partnerships, weather a factor for every one of them.
But they were still successful because the event had people at their helm that could see the big picture.  Two events were cancelled/postponed, one by fire and one by lack of volunteers and the other three were the cancelled ones because of a desire to separate myself from the negativity and the angst that personality conflicts create.

Communication is key.  
Without strong, effective communication you have nothing and sadly, I was not able to have effective communication with all 8 event coordinators, but I was with 5 of them.

It's a little better than a 55% success rate and I'll take it.

And in the future, at the first sign of a communication breakdown I will be working uber hard to restore effective communication and if unable to, I'll be cutting the strings WAY FASTER so as to not hurt the community at large. To those who had wanted to participate in the contest I am sorry for the inconvenience.

TV, Magazines, Digital Newspaper and digital event calendars, print map marketing aside, there were three event coordinators that could not see the value in cross marketing with the other events even though they all knew what events were being promoted as they had the marketing meme and I updated it when things changed and tagged them in those updates.

The ones that couldn't see the value, who weren't engaged in the process at all, weren't effective in communications. Either they were digitally challenged or they couldn't face making a call or writing an email early enough in the game that a person could have salvaged things.

I am proud of myself for learning to walk away and maintain my dignity and place some value on me, my company and the contractors that work for me, because the jobs we all do to help promote this community have value.

So to that end our winner of the Trip for Two to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip is Shauna Bourne.

First Runner Up is James Rosso and he'll get his choice of tickets to:
Run to the Hills Memorial Rally
Supreme Motorcycle & Auto Service Show 'n' Shine in Hafford Saskatchewan
Fire 'n' Wheels Rally in Chauvin Alberta
$10K Guaranteed Poker Run by Fat Boys Motorcycle Association in High Level

Our Third Place goes to Cody (Herbermour?) and he will get to choose from the tickets that are left.

Again to those who wanted to participate but couldn't because of cancellations, I deeply apologize that the challenges we faced impacted your potential for a shot at the trip.

We hope that some of you can participate for a chance to win a new jacket from Viking Cycles (Male or Female, you'll get a link to chose the jacket you want in the size you want and they will ship it to you.) $10 to colour, with $5 going back the the Ride for a Vet hosted by the Canadian Legion of Riders on July 13th.

If you are blessed enough to be riding today, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you.

Belt Drive Betty,
Editor & Rider

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