The MAKC was mentioned in a cover story article appearing in Johnstown Magazine this summer. Writer Gerry Stanek had emailed our firstname.lastname@example.org account, which then-Chairman Kerry Speelman forwarded to the conservancy board. Stanek’s email inquiry to the board indicated he wanted to portray caving as an exciting adventure sport, alongside with other sports such as skydiving and whitewater rafting.
I responded to his email telling him that caving was much more, and that portraying caving in that way was not what real caving was about. I explained to him in the email that even though my stating this probably ruled out including caving with his article, that caving is about much more than adventure. While it does include adventure, it also involves scientific work, conducted by cavers and also with cavers helping other scientists do studies on biology, hydrology and other aspects of caves.
By the time he responded to me, he noted that he had received email responses from at least one grotto in Pennsylvania stating that its members would in no way participate in such an article. He said my response indicated an openness to the media, and rather than turning him off to doing the article, it caused him to rethink his focus. I’m sure my work in public relations has had a positive impact, and for a while he and I discussed how to and how not to work with the media. Since my background also includes a dozen years working in the newspaper business, we managed to hit it off and we conducted the interview in a series of phone calls. I also sent him a packet of information including a few sample newsletters.
While Gerry didn’t show up for the Thursday evening cave trip, the magazine sent a photographer. Not being someone who likes to be photographed, I arranged for some more photogenic cavers to go with us, including my nephew Tyler, who absolutely loves caving, and two young guys who work with Tyler as part of his therapeutic support staff. Tyler’s autism doesn’t stop him from doing lots of outdoors stuff, which makes me happy too. The photographer had a great time, and Matt and Alex also had a great time. Alex, who attends Saint Vincent College, got a lot of mileage out of the caving stories, even demonstrating how he made it through Larimer Tunnel on my parents’ living room floor after the trip.
Gerry included a plug for both the NSS and the MAKC, including web site references, and even mentioned the new Lincoln Caverns map, so it was a good plug for all involved. Our educational efforts came through loud and clear.
By Kim Metzgar