Monday, December 5, 2011

Not Your Father's Buick

“Not Your Father’s Buick” was a marketing ad a few years ago, created by General Motors.  Its intent was to inspire younger buyers to consider buying their product on the premise that today’s Buick was sleeker, sexier and hipper than the car they may remember their father, or more likely their grandfather, driving.  Those involved in the work of school improvement and prevention may benefit from learning a few lessons from this approach.  Today’s students don’t want and may not be responding to “our father’s prevention programs”. 

Consider these questions:
·      Are today’s students, who are exposed to and participate in state of the art HD action-oriented video games with multiple explosions, destruction, fire and violence of all levels, likely to be frightened or scared into making different decisions by viewing a wrecked car and staged accident scene?
·      Are today’s students assimilating yet another prevention-oriented curriculum delivered by an adult who they may or may not believe really understands their world?
·      Are red ribbons, balloons and decorated classroom doors the strongest way we can message to today’s students who daily experience the most sophisticated forms of marketing technology in our history?
·      Are today’s students fully connected and engaged in their school experience and believe they can make a difference or do they feel disenfranchised, devalued and unimportant? 

I would contend that today’s students are not moved by many of yesterday’s efforts toward school improvement and prevention because they don’t find them appealing, question the credibility of the message and generally don’t resonate with them. 

The problem lies not in the intent of these efforts but in the design of the strategy.  Today’s most promising solutions are designed to provide strategies which allow students to play an active role in determining how best to address the issues that they face. 

Please contact us if you would like a copy of this complete article or if you would like to learn more about our work with schools and students.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thinking About Doing a Social Norms Campaign?

The 2008 National Social norms conference featured Clayton Neighbors, Ph.D where he emphasized that “The heated question of whether or not social norms marketing works has been definitely answered with recent comprehensive evaluations.  Moreover, we have moved beyond debating whether or not social norms works and have entered a new era in which we identify the conditions under which social norms approaches are most likely to have significant impact on the behaviors targeted.”

Since then, we have received calls and requests from our colleagues across the country who have not only heard of the social norms strategy but wondered what conditions should be in effect before investing time, treasures and talents in a campaign.  The Concierge Approach is the service-based solution that helps improve upon particular school and community culture and climate challenges.  We have worked with over 60 schools and communities across 20 states in training and implementation of their social norms campaigns.  In over 10 years, we have developed sound processes and strategies and our “conditions” have been time-tested and refined.  

The “conditions” within the Concierge Approach that have proven to be real “game changers” and difference makers are:
·      We make site visits to each community as each has unique characteristics, challenges, strengths and histories.
·      We implement our model for readiness assessment and capacity building called “The Essential Attributes for a Successful Start”.
·      We fully train all identified stakeholders in implementation of this approach including roles and responsibilities, the art and the science of change and bringing theory to practice.
·      We custom-build surveys that include perception questions as well as questions that gather specific information requested by principals, faculty, staff and other key stakeholders.
·      We review your existing data and implement our “4 Prong Process” to gather additional information through (1.) Focus Groups, (2.) Key Informant Interviews, (3.) Community Walkabouts and (4.) Optional Town Hall Style Meetings.
·      Each campaign is custom-branded and a personalized marketing plan is developed based upon the unique characteristics of your school/community.
·      A thorough post-campaign evaluation and sustainability plan are prepared and reviewed together.

This strength-based strategy is cost effective as it is an environmental approach that is universal in its application.  When a group of people is organized, empowered and mobilized with an authentic voice and message, they can become a formidable influence capable of impacting a school and community’s culture of success.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are the foundational pieces in place to begin implementation of your strategic plan?

In my previous work in Louisiana as the Governor’s Executive Director over the SPF-Sig as well as Executive Director of Safe & Drug Free Schools and Louisiana’s Drug Policy Board, I found that one of the most challenging aspects of prevention work at the community level was addressing high need, low capacity within the identified communities.  As you know, there are many challenges in being assured that those communities are readyand can achieve success.  Jim and I have worked in over 60 schools and communities across 20 states in prevention strategies and have found that agencies and communities were funded and felt they were ready to address such issues as high risk drinking, illegal substance use and its precursors, school attendance, graduation rates, stress, parents supporting other parents, and others.  However, when it came time to actually implement their strategic plans, many of the critical foundational pieces were not in place. That’s when we often become involved and work with sites to assess their readiness and develop plans to build capacity where needed.  Being on site ensures cultural competency for the project as each community has unique characteristics, assets and challenges. 
Our model has integrated the best practices of both fieldwork and research from a number of leaders in the country, including the Tri Ethnic Center for Prevention and Research, Colorado State University, the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Daniels Fund’s Partnership Strategies for Success and others.
If this work would add value to your technical assistance plan and framework to support and strengthen your efforts, we would be happy to discuss our Community Readiness Assessment and Capacity Building Model with you.  This work generally involves being on site for 2 days with preparation work beforehand.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

7 STEPS TO LAUNCH A MOVEMENT! (Student-Led School Improvement 2.0)

Step 1: Reconnaissance  (What’s working & what’s not working?)
Focus groups
Community walkabout
Data review
Key informant interviews

Step 2: Assemble Your Team  (Street Team of Youth & Core Team of Adults)
Diverse group of “Influencers”
A few trusted adult “Confidantes”

Step 3: Training  (What are we going to do?)
Roles & Responsibilities
Commitments & Opportunities

Step 4: Empowerment  (Branding & Design)
Identity of “The Movement”

Step 5: Mobilize  (Tactics)
Stealth Rollout & Marketing Plan

Step 6: Call To Action  (Launch “The Movement”)

Step 7: Stay Relevant  (Monitor, Sustain, Course Correction)

Formula: Students + Angst + Technology = A Movement
Think:  “James Tate Prom Gesture”, “Arab Spring”, “Flash Mob”, and “Occupy Wall Street”