Re: DSM: RE: Getting it

Rick Stansberger (
Wed, 22 Nov 2000 14:42:58 -0700


No criticism of you personally was intended.

Maybe I'm engaged in wishful thinking here about the wide net approach. We in
our little corner of mountains and desert don't have the money for a wide net,
and even if we did, it would pull in mostly cows and cactus -- or people from
Albuquerque 5 hours away. Here in Grant County, population 30K people and 60K
cows, it's all personal, one-on-one.

I've been looking for help from you more established folks in that regard. Why
didn't I take it to the startup list? Because it's the model that always seems
to be the bone of contention when I'm talking to people about the school. I
have more nuts-and-bolts questions on tap for the demstartup list.

In small towns it doesn't pay to piss people off. You see them every day, their
kids fix your food at the Corner Cafe and their in-laws cut your hair. So I
have to be nice to people, even school teachers, unless I want a really bad hair
day for the rest of my time here. I can't call them evil lackeys of the system,
in it for the money. And I can't just ignore doubtful parents. If I only took
the absolute keepers, I'd go without supper. But maybe that's just my problem
and not something to bring to people from fatter markets.

And it does work to work with people (I don't work "on" people --being
understandable is not the same as manipulation). At our last meeting, I watched
a woman who had been on the sidelines for months give her full commitment to the
school. If I hadn't been talking with her, she wouldn't have come to that
meeting. A guy at another meeting went at me hammer and tongs. I stuck with
him and now he's letting us use one of his buildings.

Far be it from me to criticize you who have successful schools. I just don't
have the luxury of throwing too many people back. It remains to be seen which
of the two approaches is healthier for the model.


Joe Jackson wrote:

> Rick,
> Your reply makes me feel like you're completely missing my point. No matter
> how logically you lay out the philosophical reasons to "work on" people, no
> matter how things worked in your previous job, our approach to doing pr is
> what has worked for us. When I was starting a school, if I had looked at
> how a successful school did things and tried to convince them they're doing
> them 180 degrees wrong, I would have been nuts.
> My day job for the past ten years is as a full-time Public Affairs
> specialist for the Air Force; the last 4 years I have been Chief of Public
> Affairs for the Airmen of Note. I'm well aware of the ins and outs of
> representing an organization to the media and general public, but I'm
> telling you that the SM schools have to do it differently because of the
> special objectives and sensitivities of the school (especially the small
> ones!!).
> I don't know how many more ways I can tell you this, but to use your
> analogy, having cast a net, the fish that try to wriggle out are the ones
> you don't want!
> In addition, when you talk about your days of letting off steam and dumping
> on people, I feel like you're implying that's what we are doing. I feel
> like you probably have an idea of how we conduct our PR and admissions, and
> I'm bewildered that you consider it to be "letting off steam" and dumping".
> If you're talking about my writing style on this list then I remind you that
> I am not an official representative of Fairhaven School, and I believe this
> speaks more to your misplaced impression that I am somehow more of an
> authority on the model than you. I reiterate that this list is about
> learning and developing, and not about me doing PR for potential Fairhaven
> School customers.
> -JJ
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
> > []On Behalf Of Rick
> > Stansberger
> > Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2000 10:02 AM
> > To:
> > Subject: Re: DSM: RE: Getting it
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Joe Jackson wrote:
> >
> > > The purpose of this list for me is not PR. The purpose of it
> > is for me to
> > > learn things by a)hearing other people talk and b) having to organize my
> > > thoughts enough to express them to other folks.
> >
> > Joe,
> >
> > I actually ran PR for 9 years in one of the schools in which I
> > was resident
> > pain-in-the-butt, and I gotta tellya that public relations is
> > nothing more than
> > information. A lot of people think it's lying or sugar coating,
> > but that's just
> > BAD public relations. People find out about lies eventually and
> > there you are
> > with your pants down. The coaches found me to be a continual
> > pain because I
> > didn't push the school's sports. I didn't see the need because sports
> > information was getting out fine. Reporters were calling the
> > coaches several
> > times a week, and pix of games were showing up in the press.
> > Nobody was calling
> > to find out about the math team, though. Nobody outside knew
> > when we sent a
> > bunch of kids to the ivy league after graduation or when a
> > teacher on our staff
> > published a book. What I did was fill out the true picture of our complex
> > school by supplying info the sports pages weren't geared to print
> > and that the
> > city desks didn't go looking for.
> >
> > Which brings me to the more important point. PR is information
> > and information
> > is PR in that they both depend on how they're taken by the
> > hearer. There's no
> > such thing as just telling the truth. If I had written all the
> > above in Urdu,
> > would you have gotten it? If I had written it as a personal
> > attack, would it
> > have made it through your self-defense filters? And if it had
> > made it through,
> > what form would it have taken, and where in your brain would it have been
> > filed? Under "The Truth"? I suspect not. People with healthy
> > self-respect
> > don't file badmouthing there any more than they'd put a hand
> > grenade in a baby's
> > crib.
> >
> > You can't separate the message from the packaging. Or rather,
> > you can, but your
> > hearer won't.
> >
> > I've had my days and years of being blunt, telling it "like it
> > is" and letting
> > the chips fall where they may. They weren't my most effective
> > times. Mainly I
> > was just letting off steam, dumping on people because I was too
> > tired to be
> > patient and learn about my hearer so I could present my truth in
> > a way s/he
> > could understand.
> >
> > Convinced people, in my experience, often don't think they have
> > to step outside
> > their beliefs and see them as a newcomer would, and that's where
> > they fail in
> > their efforts to communicate. You can cast as wide a net as you
> > want, but if
> > you can't keep the fish from flopping back in, what's the point?
> >
> > Rick
> >

"Weirdness abounds and shatters our illusion of order.  Heh-heh.  All the
dust is being blown out from under the carpet. Wonderful stuff!"

Wanda Hamilton-Quinn

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