How many PR agency owners do you know?

The real question should be is how many PR agency owners does Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Stanic know? And by the same measure is ignorance of both the law and the fine art of PR an excuse for committing a sin?

Sole-source contracts, unbid contracts, contracts snuck through the back door– are sins. It’s how the US Government becomes a punchline to a joke with $600 toilet seats/hammers/ball point pens.

For a school system that has lost the faith of its benefactors, to the extent that the Dayton Public Schools have, to engage a PR firm from Cleveland on a no-bid, open ended contract with few specifics is a sin. But, maybe Burges & Burges is the only PR agency that Dr. Stanic knows. Unfortunately, at least 15,000 people each month, in Dayton know another one who is entertaining you this very moment. Those 15,000 (and growing) are, for better or worse, the “insiders and influencers” that most PR agencies have to work real hard to establish relationships with (didn’t know that you were so important, did you?).

Combine this online medium with a local Rolodex with 4,000 names phone numbers, personal relationships with key players at most levels and 25 years of living in Dayton and you start to have the resources to know whom to call when a crisis strikes or a message needs to get broadcast. Having the tools to create branding campaigns that transform perceptions in-house and available at a moment’s notice also creates opportunities. PR is a very hands-on business, and having to drive 3.5 hours just to get to work an audience makes it near impossible.

Dr. Stanic and the school board would be making a monumental gaff by hiring a political pollster carpetbagger from Cleveland this afternoon in my opinion, but what’s more important is your opinion- since for the most part, you are the people who need to have your perceptions changed about the Dayton Public Schools.

Some of you have said that no amount of PR will change things. It’s really quite funny, when you consider that VW still makes crappy cars at the bottom of the annual JD Power initial quality surveys, but by changing ad agencies and their message, traffic in dealers and sales increased. Altoids has been around for a long time (100+ years) and packaged in the same tin, yet once an ad agency rebranded it with a tiny $12 million dollar campaign (only rolled out in a few cities) sales took off- “the curiously strong mint.” Good marketing and PR may also be credited to our President-elect. Named Advertising Age’s “Marketer of the Year” Barack Obama was a long shot when he started his campaign. Like it or not, advertising is a trillion-dollar industry for a reason.

Because I understand both the power of open discussion, open meetings, open source and most importantly, open minds, I’m putting my cover letter and my proposal to the Dayton Public School System online for you to review. I have nothing to hide- and it would be open for review anyway. Transparency is one of the key trust factors in brand building, and if I can’t walk the talk, I shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Our motto is “Create Lust- Evoke Trust” for a reason- they are the only 2 factors that count in marketing today.

Hopefully, the School Board will understand that this proposal was done quickly, without any examination of their current budgets, reviews of internal processes and procedures or a database of survey data that was paid for by the School Systems Foundation (that for some strange reason, Burges & Burges won’t release to the Board).

Even if the Board doesn’t want to hire The Next Wave, they should be reviewing my list of Agencies that aren’t The Next Wave before entering into a PR contract. Because, they should know more than one PR agency owner before they hand over $108,000.

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