Dayton Public Schools fail marketing 101

This is far from the first post on the extended failure of Dayton Public Schools to manage their marketing resource acquisition.

If this is your first time finding out about this, this post is the full recap, with all the documentation to let you examine the process and see how to fail at issuing an RFP for professional services. First clue- don’t have a single marketing professional on staff to help you evaluate what you are buying.

Second clue: have someone who has no knowledge of how to pick an ad agency write the RFP/RFQ.

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The initial RFP for “Comprehensive marketing services” issued by the Dayton Public Schools

With that said, here is the absolute failure that they issued to start the process. It was missing so many key pieces of information, like a budget, an objective, that it made me wonder if there was anything already written to serve as a guideline for picking an ad agency for governmental organizations. There wasn’t, so I wrote this for The Next Wave blog: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide (for Governmental Organizations)

Well, actually I wrote it after the School Board missed their original start deadline of Sept. 21, and threw out the recommendation of their purchasing department who ran this “process” on November 1st.  It was pointed out that their “RFP process” kept favoring big firms, who they’d already worked with, and that the scoring rubric seemed to be off- especially since my firm had real diversity qualifications (Certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business by the VA, HUBzone by the SBA, Ohio ED/GE). They also wondered how a team that included a photographer, Larry Price, who has won an Emmy and the Pulitzer prize for photojournalism twice, didn’t rank higher as “qualified.” Five firms applied. Due to a cc instead of bcc on an email, I knew who the competition was. Had the process been handled competently, my bid should have been very well received.

Superintendent Corr’s answer was to suggest they go out and ask other districts how it’s done. Next came a new instrument to ask for proposals- this one, a Request for Qualifications. The difference being that the purchasing department is supposed to be ranking how qualified each agency is to do the job – to suggest who the board should consider issuing a contract with. Since there isn’t really supposed to be any proposed work, the instrument should be administered in a way that’s kind of like the Pepsi Challenge- blind of branding, just asking to see examples of past work, and describing the skill set of each organization. Yes, you can ask for prices- for a set service, but, usually, you would leave out anything that would tip off an evaluator who submitted what.

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DPS issues RFQ to replace RFP for marketing services

This wasn’t how they did it. In fact, much of the RFQ was a copy and paste job from the RFP. They were still asking for timelines, plans, and now, added how would you spend $75K. This time only 3 of the firms bid, with one subcontracting one of the other first round bidders to fill their “diversity” quotient.

The RFQ asked for a lot of “reporting” proof. Can you show that your marketing dollars spent were effective type things? Showing Neilsen numbers (as Ohlmann does for a lot of their response) doesn’t tell anyone how many widgets were sold. And, unless it’s the EFFY awards (Effectiveness), no ad awards shows actually care if your ad actually sold more widgets, but awards were important. Laughably, The Ohlmann Group bragged at length of how they’d won lots of “Mercury Awards” from the local ad club- the only problem is, they aren’t real awards given by judges- it’s a popularity contest- much like what the Dayton Business Journal does with “Best Pizza in Dayton” awards.

The RFQ, much like the RFP was based on a Board provided guesstimate of total hours of 3120- or 1.5 man years. This district is in much greater need of 1.5 man years- especially if they are hoping to do a rebrand. Both Ohlmann and The Next Wave would want to fix the website that was built in a proprietary content management system (supplied by the third bidder Upward) that has already cost the district a small fortune. Hilariously, it can only be maintained by one person in the district, the current default Public Information Officer Jill Drury, who came out of TV news and has no marketing chops.

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DPS Q&A for the RFQ

There was a Q&A issued 2 days before the turn in deadline of 20 January, 2017. In it, it clearly put a cap of $300K on the project. My firm, The Next Wave bid under it, at a fixed price to deliver 3.5 man years or 7280 hours. And, as a caveat, as long as we were on retainer and doing the work we specified- all the other stuff that they never budget or foresee, we’d do it at the effective rate of $41 an hour. The other two bidders were considerably more expensive- with the average hourly rate of $113 for the “winner” picked by purchasing and hired by the board without a contract review before the vote.

Now, what I’m asking you the reader to do, is to pretend you care about your school district, and where public dollars are spent. And take the time to actually read the proposals submitted by each of the three agencies.

Then read the score sheets/evaluators forms. Then read the contract issued to the Ohlmann Group, waiving the 48 hour rule to vote on it a week early at a meeting without public comment. Then, you decide- who had the best plan, the most cost effective proposal?

Remember that there is still a digital divide in Dayton and that the households feeding DPS schools are mostly poor and many don’t have reliable high speed internet. Also know that almost all broadcast media would have serious over-reach, delivering the DPS message to people who wouldn’t send their kids to DPS if you paid them (the exception being St. Ivers- I mean, Stivers).

That’s why The Next Wave proposal for a media spend of $75K a year was to hire someone in each neighborhood to meet the kids at the central bus stop and take attendance as the kids got on the bus. Then to follow up in the neighborhood with housecalls on homes where the kid may didn’t made it to the bus- and to try to figure out what the district can do to get the kid in school- all before the bus even makes it to the building. Novel idea? Creative? More valuable to the district than a TV campaign? You tell me. Some friends of mine who run a very hot shop in Minneapolis have a mantra- “Actions speak louder than words.” Doing things always beats talking about them in our book too.

Here are the documents provided by the DPS legal counsel for each agency. Note, she gave me scans of printouts, not the original high resolution PDF’s that each agency submitted, with the hope that the low-fi, non-ADA compliant docs wouldn’t be able to be posted and indexed as well- but, don’t worry- I ran them through OCR. Only The Next Wave doc has working links.
Note, the Ohlmann and Upward submissions both run 100 pages. The longest proposal we’ve ever done for a non-governmental client has run 6 pages. Why government purchasing departments think requiring so much information actually helps the process is beyond me.

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The Next Wave RFQ response

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The Ohlmann Group RFQ response

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The Upward Brand Interactions RFQ Response

Next is the evaluators score sheets. We were told there were 5 evaluators and that one was the superintendent. One can assume the woman from purchasing who ran this mess, Teri Allen, was also one. Obviously, after me calling for her firing after the first round debacle, she’s going to score for anyone but The Next Wave.

The comments in scoring are very different for the three firms.

Of course, my mockery of the actual RFQ in our response- which had the audacity to ask for an Org chart when DPS barely has one, isn’t helping engender warm fuzzys, but, this district has serious problems and asking about org charts makes me wonder?

How does an Org chart make you do better ads? Websites? Video production?

The real key is to read the RFP and then realize the RFQ is yet another cut and paste job- looking to create “gotchas” instead of to actually evaluate what an agency is bringing to the table.

I always tell new clients that hiring an agency is a lot like dating- it takes almost a year before you really know enough about each other to do anything really great. Of course, if you baseline is decades of mediocrity, it’s not too hard to look amazing out of the box.

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The RFQ scoring instrument

The last document is the actual contract, which was presented to the board on board docs as a $112,500 contract instead of $345K. Then there were the two additional “option years” making the whole thing a million dollar commitment.

The school board actually bought this contract, without reading it. Mostly because they were told they had a 90 day out (which was specified to all bidders in the RFQ).

The contract has one hinkey legal mistake, that should make it null and void:

2. In the event of a conflict, precedence shall be given to the following order: (1) this document, (2) the Request for Proposal, and (3) the Contractor’s proposal response, (4) “SOW’ for specified project scope.

Uh, what RFP? This was a response to an RFQ. The RFP had been withdrawn. Of course, you can’t see the top secret RFP, unless it’s actually awarded. Of course, The Next Wave proposal didn’t shy away from sharing our ideas fully- because, well, we actually care enough about this district to have done all this journalism to expose the incompetence at the top.

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The DPS contract with the Ohlmann Group

The real question is, how many people will take the time to examine all this? Probably not many.

That’s why we produced a video to walk you through the whole thing- ending with the absolutely insane meeting between Board Members Adil Baguirov, Sheila Taylor and John McManus with the representatives from the Ohlmann Group.

We’ve already posted and talked about this meeting, and a few of you watched the whole 90 minute debacle. The meeting was mostly Dr. Adil Baguirov showcasing his marketing expertise, including advocating for the use of Flash- a web application that’s almost universally despised by any modern web developer and has never been usable on any Apple iOS device.

You are probably wondering what the next step is? It’s pretty obvious that after calling for the resignation of 5 board members, and Superintendent Corr, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll change their mind and hire us. Of course, come Jan 1, 2018, there will be four new board members who may want to be able to fully explain why the current board and their picks for Superintendent and Treasurer have caused this district more trauma than triage.

There is another post coming that should clearly change the course of coming board action, but, it will take a considerable amount of time to write and fully document. It’s the final chapter for one of the DPS pretenders.

In the mean time, to those of you who take the time to read all the docs, I’d love to hear your evaluation of this three ring circus.

Political campaign hot cards and websites for less

Shameless plug, or doing my part to change the way politics work?

One of the biggest problems facing America is the high cost of running for office. I know full well how much it costs, having run more times than most (and lost).

To help cut the expense of running for office- my firm, The Next Wave, does campaign pieces- websites- printing- for a lot less than what most “political consultants” charge- and it looks better.

We just did a logo, hotcards, letterhead, envelopes, car magnet and a website for local judicial candidate Mia Wortham Spells.

Mia Spells Hot card Mia Spells Hot card back

The website is basic, but functional and responsive. Done in WordPress, with a PayPal donation engine. You can learn how to manage a WordPress website yourself by coming to one of our Websitetology Seminars, the next one is Tuesday June 23.

Our printing prices are some of the best in town- 1000 4/c, 2/s 4×6 hotcards on 16 pt stock are only $44.55 You can find more prices at www.thenextwaveprinting.com

We’re also doing design work, hotcards, banners and yard signs for Dayton City Commission Scott Sliver and signs and some other printing for Dayton School Board candidate John McManus.

We’ve done door hangers for Beavercreek Township Trustee Tom Kretz, notecards for State Rep. Jim Butler,  Butler Twp. Trustee Joe Flanagan, Liberty Twp. Trustee candidate Rhonda Freeze and of course former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell and city commission candidate David Greer (one of my favorite portrait shoots). This is mostly in the name of full disclosure- and just because we do design and print for these people, doesn’t mean it’s an endorsement.

What’s funny is that the local Democratic party does a lot of its printing out of Columbus instead of supporting a local Service Disabled Veteran (me) and probably pays more for everything.

Don’t overpay for crappy printing for campaign literature that no one will read anyway – buy it from The Next Wave.
:-)

It’s time you elected politicians as tight with their own money as they’ll be with your money.

 

Panhandling my way to Congress wins Gold at American Advertising Federation awards

David Esrati with AAF Dayton gold for his Panhandling my way to Congress  campaign

Hermes Gold with David Esrati, candidate and ad agency owner

Usually when a Dayton ad agency wins a Hermes award at the AAF Dayton (formerly the Dayton Ad Club) annual Hermes award, the agency gives a short acceptance speech thanking the client, talking about how wonderful they are to work with.

I got to make an acceptance speech last night for my agency, The Next Wave, for work we did on my campaign for Congress last year.

“The client sucked, he has no talent” was my opening. Then I went on to remind 406 of my peers that most “political advertising” reflects poorly on our profession. I spoke of the ad done in 1994 by one of our industries greats, Jerry Della Femina, who wrote a full page New York Times ad “Don’t call it advertising.” I asked that if a candidate comes to them with a request to do a “I was born in ________, I went to ___________ school, I’m a (insert profession here) and I’m going to (insert adjective) (insert verb) for you, type ad- to force the candidate to talk about real issues- and make real promises.

Because in real advertising, if the product or service doesn’t perform as advertising- there are real penalties. In politics, they just get elected and re-elected. Unfortunately, this spot- and the one on foreclosures that won a Silver last year, didn’t get seen by enough voters to make a difference. For that to have happened, I would have had to raise at least $15K – a far deal less than Sharen Neuhardt spent on her botched run.

Here is the spot:

Please watch and share.

From winning the Hermes locally, it’s now entered to go to Regionals and then it can go to the National competition. There were over 433 entries, 238 got in ($65 an entry), a majority win bronze awards which aren’t eligible to move up, and each category (this won in the public service category) can  win one, maybe two golds out of a small pool of silvers. Only 24 Golds were awarded.

It’s a very tough competition, with local agencies doing work for Sears, Nike and other global clients. There is incredible talent in this city- much of it under-appreciated by local businesses. One former boss of mine had several entries win Silver for Chinese clients. Dayton can compete on a global stage.

Even though this spot and the foreclosure spot won, I’m most proud of the public information campaign I ran, where I posted video of almost every candidate at every candidates’ night- so that voters can be informed. It’s my goal to implement better ways for informing voters and change the nature of the process from mudslinging and money grubbing to discussions about the issues. To do that, I’ll need your support. Please consider donating to my campaign for City Commission where I’ve committed to run for under $10K.  Donate: http://electesrati.com/donate-2/

Now, out to collect signatures again in the freezing cold. :-)

Booty shorts: what product are you selling?

grey goose

“Booty shorts” Creative Commons License JASON ANFINSEN via Compfight

Today I’m trying something new. I’m writing something for my kids. I have 2 girls, currently 9 and 13. The older one (M) seems to have great desire to hang her derriere out of the bottom of her shorts. I’m approaching this from an advertising perspective since that’s what I do to put a roof over her head.

M. I’ve got a friend, Sally Hogshead (whom you met in Orlando at Starbucks before we headed home from Disneyworld) who is one of the most brilliant advertising minds I know. She’s also pretty hawt, just like you. It’s no secret among us in the advertising world that sex sells stuff. It’s one of those things in life that works better than it should- but it’s also intellectually weak, so we tend to try not to use it when we don’t have to.

Sally’s no stranger to doing ads that are risque. She’s done some for Dolce and Gabbana that border on pornography, and work for the Hard Rock hotel people in Las Vegas that try to make them the ultimate “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” sort of place.

Why would advertising do ads like this? To make their products memorable, to make you have some kind of emotional punch in the gut, to ultimately make people lust after whatever it is you’re selling- even if it has nothing to do with sex or sex appeal.

I hope you are smart enough to know that very expensive sunglasses don’t make ugly people look great when you look through them- but that they can make mediocre looking  people look better wearing them. Sally used one of advertising’s tricks to make you think that as long as you’re wearing their shades, you’ll constantly be running into very sexy people because they make you feel sexy- and we know that sex sells.

While Sally can still make ads for a living, that’s not her primary profession anymore. She teaches people “How to fascinate”– it’s a pretty cool gig for her, because she’s a very interesting person from an incredibly fascinating family. Her father is an orthopoedic surgeon (and no I didn’t spell it wrong, that’s the way the Brits spell it and how Dr. Hogshead prefers it) and her older sister, Nancy Hogshead, won 3 gold medals in the Olympics in swimming and is a big proponent of Title IX (making it possible for your little sister to play football if she wants). Her brother went to Harvard and is a really smart guy too- but doesn’t jump in the limelight like his sisters. She even jokes about her last name, Hogshead (on her business card it says “A hogshead is 62 gallons, what’s your last name mean smartass?”) as driving her to stand out as someone other than the girl with a funny name in school- you thought it was a horrible name when you first heard it- didn’t you? Once you met her, you wouldn’t dare think of someone with a hog head on their shoulders would you?

The 7 Triggers for Fascination

Seven ways to be fascinating

But this post is about “booty shorts” not hogsheads. It’s about what you say when your ass cheeks are hanging out the bottom of your pants. I understand you think it’s cool to be “hawt” and have the boys all go wild when you’re around and shaking your butt when you walk- but lets instead take an analytical look at what booty shorts are doing from Sally’s Fascination triggers. Yep, she’s come up with the science of desire- breaking down the ways we get attention and become fascinating to our audience to seven different “triggers”- tools that you have at your disposal to get and hold someone’s attention:

  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Mystique
  • Passion
  • Alarm
  • Rebellion
  • Trust

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret- when she first wrote the book “Fascinate” two of the names were slightly different. Passion was “Lust” and rebellion was “vice”- so when you see me in my The Next Wave t-shirt and it says “Create Lust • Evoke Trust” you may better understand why Sally and I worked together. We both came to the same conclusions and put them into similar words. When we were still working on the draft, before the title was finalized, there was a focus on goldfish- because research had made the claim that our attention span was now around 9 seconds- about the same as a goldfish.

Boys your age are a lot like goldfish btw, as we start exploring my rationale for “hating on” booty shorts,

So which triggers do you think you use in wearing booty shorts? Well, you can use a bunch of them at the same time – but it’s pretty easy to analyze that there are some you aren’t using: Power, and trust are both out- and although teenage boys may think you are using mystique- arousing their curiosity, you are actually doing the opposite- there is nothing left to the imagination other than seeing you with your shorts off- you’ve taken away any reason to be curious about you in a meaningful way.

Now- as to Passion- remember it used to be called lust- there is a big difference between those two terms. To be passionate about something is noble- deep and strong. To be passionate about saving the world is a lot different than to lust after everything in the world, right? It’s why Sally had to refine her thesis (a thesis is her way of explaining her ideas) so that people didn’t go off in the wrong direction. So when you’re wearing booty shorts- you aren’t using passion- you’re using lust- and it’s off the approved trigger list.

You think you are using Rebellion- because you know I don’t approve. But, it’s not from my position as dad, but from my position as an advertising guy. Remember, rebellion used to be called vice- but isn’t anymore. Being truly rebellious is defined by me as an act of courage. For the people in the Arab states who fought against their countries’ rulers- was rebellion. Showing up with a slingshot at a gunfight takes bravery- and a willingness to risk your life to make a point and try to change the world. Vice on the other hand, means doing something you know you shouldn’t do- like smoking dope, drinking to excess, gambling money you can’t afford to lose or having sex for the wrong reasons. Wearing booty shorts is a shortcut to vice- not an act of rebellion.When I was growing up, wearing jeans was consider rebellious- funny huh? And the rebel in blue jeans was James Dean, and the jeans of choice were Levi’s. But, by the time I was wearing them- everyone was. We weren’t rebelling anymore- we were just saying we wanted to be like him, because the rebellion was already over- suit and tie or slacks and dress shirts had already given way to jeans and t-shirts. To be a rebel now- booty shorts don’t really work anymore. They’ve become the Levi’s of the wannabes. Anyone can wear them- and so most of your friends in school are. That doesn’t mean they are fascinating- it means that you are all conforming and competing with each other for the vice vote.

There is the alarm trigger left. “Create urgency and need” as Sally defines it. Originally, Sally wouldn’t let “Alarm” be a primary trigger in her test that I helped her implement. Over time, she’s refined the test so it can be a primary- but it one of the hardest to use effectively- without backfiring. Politicians like to use it – coupled with fear, to get people to vote for them. It’s the trigger that can make people do things they normally wouldn’t do. Like it or not- booty shorts’ use of this trigger is like fireworks on the 4th of July- especially to boys your age- and even to men my age. They scream “look at my nearly naked butt” and tease at seeing the rest of it. This isn’t advertising- it’s pandering. It’s saying I’ll let you have a peek, a taste- it’s like giving away a free sample at Cinnabon  (one of Sally’s favorite vices) where they just know that if you have a taste you’ll want to buy a whole one.

Of all the triggers you’d want to attract boys with- is this the one you really want to use? Wouldn’t you rather use prestige, mystique, passion or trust? With Alarm- it only works until someone comes with a louder siren- a thong- and then, naked. This isn’t very difficult- any of your friends can top you in a minute on the alarm scale, it’s as easy as taking off their shorts. I would hope at this point you are starting to understand why I cringe when I see you competing for fascination with this trigger.

There are so many things to love about you, to be fascinated by, to attract boys with. All I’m asking is to ditch the booty shorts and try using a more sophisticated trigger. You want to attract boys who will stick around for more than nine seconds, don’t you? Booty shorts are goldfish bait, you on the other hand- are worthy of a lot more respect and interest.

Let’s try another trigger to fascinate, one that says you’re a unique, interesting, wonderful young woman. Because that’s how I, and the world would see you- unless you’re wearing those stupid short shorts.

The best ad agency in Dayton Ohio supports esrati.com

Shameless self-promotion here. Since 2005, I’ve been supplying Dayton with the best forum on issues, insiders, politics and news on esrati.com. This site is read by the people who want to know what the Dayton Daily News is either too understaffed to cover, lacking in institutional knowledge to cover or connect the dots (since Cox refuses to negotiate a contract with the union- and can’t keep talented people here) or doesn’t have the balls to poke at the establishment (of which they think it’s their duty to support and be a part of- new head honcho Julia Wallace is a member of the Dayton Business Committee).

Then there is me. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told “you’ll never do work in this town” for writing what I write on this site. Luckily, there are some fine people in Dayton who still believe that having great advertising and supporting the voice of the people is good business.

The Next wave logoSince I own The Next Wave– Dayton’s best ad agency, it, by default, supports this site. Every time you see a post on this site, figure you just took an hour of my time away from my business or my family. Your comments are the only reward I get.

What we do at The Next Wave is still a mystery to many of you- since you are still not calling 937-228-4433 to set up a meeting to discuss how you can effectively grow your business, so I’m going to give you a list of services and even add examples of businesses around town that you may be familiar with.

I’ll start with the ones you all can use:

Business card design and printing. We can get you 500 4/c both sides, business cards printed on premium 16pt stock with AQ coating for under $15 We do this for all of our clients. Design is not included in the $15 price, but we’re still reasonable on that. We can also do plastic cards, silk cards, fold over cards- you name it. We have some info at www.thenextwaveprinting.com

We also print sales sheets, menus, postcards, etc.- all at amazingly low prices. See the link for the printing.

We teach the www.websitetology.com seminar every month in Dayton. Next one is this Tuesday- and a few seats are still available . If you want to learn how to have a site like this- or one like The Next Wave, or maybe www.pizzafactory.biz or www.f2cfnd.org you should come to the seminar. We teach you how the web works with insight into Google and organic SEO in the morning- and how to use WordPress as a CMS in the afternoon. CMS stands for Content Management System- and it makes it so easy to run a website you’ll be amazed. No geek or HTML required. We’ve been teaching people this (including our competition) since 2005.

Of course, we can also build websites, manage social media, host your site, help you implement a CRM (customer relationship management) tool and manage email campaigns as well.

If you have a business and only have a website- you are missing the second most used search tool on the web. Having video on the web is essential for success. We have a full time videographer on staff and can produce video on a dime. If you’ve read this site during campaign season, I’m sure you’ve seen what we were able to do to cover candidates’ nights and to make my campaign videos.

Most importantly, we help grow businesses. Everything from naming and branding to packaging and advertising. We do everything a business needs to efficiently get their message out. We use the most efficient modern tools to collaborate and spread your message to potential customers and to keep your existing ones.

When you look through our portfolio of work you’ll see many brands you are familiar with locally. We do everything we can to promote and help local Dayton businesses- including providing a directory of all the local advertising agencies so you can compare and shop intelligently. We want strong competition.

As you may notice, I don’t put advertising on this site- although I have the readership. If you want ads- go read www.daytonmostmetro.com which also is supported with money from UpDayton. I do on occasion post links to products that I like on Amazon.com and make a small commission when you click through to buy them or anything else from a link here.

Right now, my favorite product is a Breville Juicer (see link below). I’m 5 days into a 30 day juice fast and feeling great. You can buy one of these juicers and help support the site- and get healthy. If you’re wondering why I’m doing the liquid diet- you should watch this movie: Fat Sick and nearly Dead. You can watch it via Netflix streaming or for free online via the site. I’m inspired by the movie and my friend Pastor Jimmy Mann who has juiced for years. If you know him, you know you won’t find a more healthy, energetic, positive person.

If you really like this site and don’t have a business that uses our services, I’ve also got a link to my Amazon wish list in the sidebar. Feel free to send gifts :-)

David Esrati on creating careers (not just jobs)

The idea of starting The Next Wave really began the year I graduated from Wright State- it was 1988, and I knew there wasn’t an ad agency in Dayton doing the kind of work I wanted to do. Most people would have moved to New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Minneapolis or Portland OR, but, instead, I tried to move them here.

It took 2 years to get 100 Bonner transformed from the $2,200 boarded-up disaster into the building it is today, and in March of 1990, I had a Mac SE-30 with 4mb of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive, a Laserwriter II and no clients. I rented out part of my office to John Walker, former co-worker at Graphica, who is an amazingly talented graphic designer. We had separate businesses but worked together a lot. I sold, wrote, and marketed, he designed with markers and tissue paper and then I’d do production on a black and white screen of color projects.

My first employee was Jeanne Destro. You may remember her as DJ on WVUD, Magic104, WTUE. She introduced me to George Wymer who taught me everything I needed to know about buying radio. We did work for the Dayton Dynamo- and I remember sitting in a closet at WTUE with a very young Jim Hausfeld who helped us create cassette tapes of cuts of music to play in breaks- things like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC. Hausfeld went on to the head of commercial production for all of Clear Channel only recently leaving there to become a creative director at The Ohlman Group.

There are a ton of other people who helped my company grow. But there was one thing I learned before I got my first job in the field was that while a lot of people would interview me, only one gave me a chance in the business- Larry Holland, and that was only after five months of me pestering him. Larry ran Graphica, a company that formed by siphoning off half the team and half the clients from Wanamaker Advertising Arts. In the ad business this is typically how new firms start up- stealing accounts and talent and setting up a new shop. It was something I swore I’d never do. Even though Larry fired me after a few months after I’d rubbed one of his partners the wrong way after getting them into Mead Data Central (a client they continued to do work for – including the re-branding to LexisNexis) he remained a friend and mentor all the way up until his premature death about 14 years ago.

I promised myself to give young kids a chance at my place. I’ve never refused to review a portfolio, speak to students, offer assistance. I’ve had probably 20 interns that got their start in the business at The Next Wave, and I’ve also probably given as many  their first job.  In an attempt to share with you the parts of me that you won’t read about in the paper, or get from reading this blog, I asked for people who knew me to volunteer to tell their story. I’ve already posted Brad Proctor’s and Stacy Thompson’s testimonials. This post is about starting the career of Alan Dickinson, a young man who came to me to intern and now works for Frog Design at their NYC office. He was the first to step up to tape, but it took us a little longer since we had to wait for some footage from NYC.

While lots of politicians talk about job creation, I’ve actually been creating careers since starting my own. Here’s the story of one of them:

Alan came to me as a 16 year old kid at Vandalia Butler. Normally, you only get a job in an ad agency at that age if your parents own it. He brought a painting he did at 12 that was better than somethings I’ve seen hanging on gallery walls, and a hand crafted box that he’d created to give something to his girlfriend Katie. I gave him a chance. Here is what he had to say about it:

To add a few personal things about me that you might not know:

  • I grew up in a house that was built in Cleveland as a prototype for the 1939 New York World’s Fair by an architect, Harold Burdick. It was built using the modern materials of the day- steel frame, plywood, glass block and was sponsored by GE as the “all electric house.” Reportedly it had the first two fluorescent lights in a residence. We had a lot of Lumiline light fixtures to illuminate the glass block bays. When my parents bought it in 1971 it was a mess- the glass block was mostly broken due to the steel rusting and expanding, crushing the block- they restored it and had it placed on the National Register of Historic places.
  • I was the first junior to ever be named photo-editor of my high school’s yearbook. I spent 11th grade taking more pictures than notes and had to work extra hard my senior year just to have enough credits to graduate. I built my own darkroom in the “wine cellar” of the house and shot over 200 rolls of film that year. I still love to take pictures.
  • A friend of my father’s, David Bensman, was a “Big Brother” to several kids as I grew up. He was one of my favorite people, he always had a sense of humor and liked to talk with all kinds of funny accents. He worked as a ceramics engineer of some sort at Ferro in Cleveland, coming up with coatings for your stove or refrigerator. When I was in high school I became friends with one of his “littles” and realized how much of an impact Dave had made on this young man. He was my inspiration to do the same when I got to Dayton. For the last 24 years, I’ve been following in his footsteps. Unfortunately, Bensman was shot to death in a home invasion around 15 years ago. I still think of him often and miss him.

 

Esrati is stoned, a VA supporter, a dog saver and stolen bike retrieval officer

Some of you may have noticed that the number of updates to Esrati.com has decreased in the last few weeks. One reason is that it took a bit of time to write the two big posts of late: The resignation of Dayton Daily News photo chief Larry Price– which went international, and the post about the competing efforts on regionalism (which to have been totally right would have taken a few solid days of calling for comment, etc., if I were paid to do this).

We’re also very busy at The Next Wave, opening a Miami FL office, launching our new web site, creating new brands, building web sites, making video, crafting advertising. The Huff-n-Puff hockey season also started.  Add in that I’ve also had to deal with the latest break in, adding late night walks on “security patrol” to my already stretched schedule.  The latest update on that in a bit, plus how I saved a dog’s life.

Then, to top it all off- I’ve got kidney stones. Not the first time, that was about 10 years ago- and the first time I had ever been given morphine. I had gone to Miami Valley Hospital, barely able to walk, and 15 minutes after the shot- I was ready to dance. Unfortunately, the next 36 hours- I was in bed- in and out of consciousness.  Won’t make that mistake again- this time, it’s only vicoden- which I’m on after a 9 p.m. trip to the VA emergency room last night.

I know that our local Congressman, Mike Turner, has made it a personal mission to vilify the entire institution over one dentist’s gross misconduct. But, as a Service Disabled Veteran, who gave up my private health insurance about 6 years ago and have only received my care from the VA- I would like to tell you that all your fears of “socialized medicine” would go away if the kind of care I’ve received was scalable to the entire country.

I see my General Practitioner twice a year. He typically spends between 30 and 45 minutes going over my health with me. He responds to e-mail about questions in my care program, his nurse- Mike, has become a good friend, and any test that’s needed, gets done, without question of cost. I recently had a CAT scan for my stones, no problem. All records are digital, including X-rays.

Pharmacy is all done by mail, with an online portal for renewals of regular medication. My eyes get checked annually, and glasses are available free from a choice of basic frames and for about $100 for “designer” frames. I’ve been wearing the $100 frames for a few years- and had many compliments.

My only complaint over the years is that I had forgotten some basic medication (not a narcotic)  when on a trip- tried to get a few pills for 2 days in St. Louis, where they wanted to go through a whole bunch of craziness including an ER visit, where if I’d had my prescription at Walgreens, it would have been walk in and sign.

You should be as lucky as me to have such an amazing team of people that took care of me last night. Thanks to Knickenbocker, Fat Pat (we’ll hit the road for a scoot soon), Amy, Heather, Doc D for taking amazing care of me.

If this seems like a ramble- it’s proof not to take drugs and write.

Scooby, a terrier lab mix, soon to be able to be adopted from SICSA

Scooby, our latest addition (possibly with ringworm)

We also began fostering a puppy for SICSA on Friday around 5. I think we’re going to fail our first foster- and end up with “Scooby” (a name we hate)- a 7-month-old terrier-lab mix, who weighs about 25 lbs.

It was yesterday morning when SICSA called and asked us to bring him in for a “vet check.” Turns out, he came in with 3 other puppies from a family that had him living in their yard. The house was foreclosed on, and the 4 came in. Before they checked all of them- we had the Scoobster. The girls introduced him to our two 10-year-old big dogs, with minimum fighting. And he started making friends, esp. with me (dogs tend to like me a lot more than people do). So, less than 20 hours after we have him- and all of us have been loving on the mutt, I get the news that the other three pups were destroyed- one had ringworm, and the other two were put down as a precaution. Do we want to keep Scooby, having to wait 2 weeks to see if the culture tests positive for ringworm- in which case, we’re looking at 4 additional weeks of fostering (by which time, I think I’d have a hard time giving him up). Or, hand him back, in which case, he wouldn’t live to  see 3 p.m. (it was 2:30 p.m.).

Ringworm isn’t a horrible disease, it’s easily cured with Lotramin AF, but the problem is it’s easily transmitted through microscopic spores that are only killed by lots of UV light, or bleach. We’d have to soak all three dogs with Sulfur Lime solution (we now have three rotten egg smelling dogs)- and keep Scooby semi-isolated.

Obviously- I brought him home. Odds are about 50/50 that he has ringworm- but, we won’t know till the end of the month.

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief

On the way home, I stopped by Family Dollar on Clover St. at Wayne to pick up some Lotramin AF. As I was pulling out of the lot, I see three teens, in the middle of Theobald Lane- one of whom was on Teresa’s bike that was stolen. I pull the car over- taking pictures with my iPhone as I get out of the car. They start asking me what I’m doing taking pictures- I say “That bike was my Girlfriend’s until it was stolen last week” at which point- the kid starts pedaling as I start chasing. Note: keys are in car, Scooby is in the car, and there are three of them. The kid realizes he can’t get the bike going fast enough- as I’m running and about to grab him- so he dumps the bike and takes off running toward the Cricket Store. I stop- take more pix- and call 911.

Neighbor Rob Gonzalez, comes by in his jeep- asks what’s up- I give him description of punk kid, he goes looking for him. Note, Rob is  SFC Gonzalez, U.S. Army- and is a Military Police officer. Luckily for the punk kid- Rob doesn’t find him.

The other two talk trash as I take more photos and wait for the cops, who show up in about 15 minutes. The cop gives me a form for E-crew (Dayton’s Evidence Crew)- but says they won’t get prints off the bike, and tells me to take it home.

Turns out when I get it home- Teresa says it’s not her bike. Same style, same color- but slightly different. So now, I’ve “stolen” a stolen bike. I’ll explain to the cops when they show up. I’ve posted pictures to our neighborhood crime watch group on Facebook- to ID all three kids- to see what we can come up with. Our community based police officers also have all the pix.

Add in a few hours of work in the early morning at the office, a trip to the bank and the Second Street market (where I ran into Bubba Jones)- and you have a day in the life of David Esrati.

May your life not be like mine. I’m off to vicoden dreams.

However, I’m going to leave you with something I wrote in response to someone who didn’t like my language in describing the criminal element (and future criminal elements) in our neighborhood: “Pollyanna won’t save you. Buford Pusser will.”

Cheers.

Spicy peanut rolls ala Esrati

The real credit for these goes to the now defunct Dharma Deli that was in the Second Street Market. I loved their spicy peanut rolls, and since we sort of cut out bread in the house, these have become a lunch staple.

I typically whip 2 of these up for lunch. Everyone I’ve made them for has loved them- so I decided to share the recipe for my spicy peanut rolls as a how-to video.

What you need- and where to get them:

From International Foods on Airway (4770)- right next to Linh’s Vietnamese Restaurant (one of my favorite places to eat in Dayton)

  • Rice paper wrappers- they come in a hundred or so pack for $2
  • Sweet chilli sauce- (egg roll dipping sauce) this is the hardest part, my favorite had a yellow squeeze bottle top, but haven’t seen it for a while. There are plenty of different brands, but they are all different. And- almost all the brands have horribly designed labels. A big bottle is $3. You can get a tiny 8 oz bottle of this stuff at Trader Joe’s for the same $3- but why?
  • Firm tofu- you can get this stuff almost anywhere.
  • Red cabbage- I shave it- then chop. Green cabbage doesn’t work- I’ve tried- different taste.
  • Organic carrots- grate them. This is one food that I demand to buy organic- the other carrots now taste weird to me.
  • Organic peanut butter- doesn’t matter what brand.
  • Red bell peppers- again, I’ve tried the green ones and it doesn’t taste the same. Slice them in long strips to stiffen the roll.

Prep your veggies- heat a bowl of water in the microwave. Dip the rice paper in- get it wet and soft, then put it on a plate. Spread peanut butter in a line down the middle, put a slice of tofu in, line up the red pepper slices along side, cover with the sliced red cabbage and the carrots- pour on your sweet chilli sauce and then fold in sides and roll the rest (see the video).

Be careful what you put these on- the rice paper sticks to lots of stuff. I usually make two for lunch. If the veggies are prepped takes less than 5 minutes for 2. Veggie prep takes a bit more time- about 1o minutes – and I keep them in a Rubbermaid container for the next day.

Here’s the video:

The video was shot by our former intern Daniel Lyon and edited by The Next Wave‘s own Max Spang. We can do videos like this for your business- to help draw traffic from YouTube to your site. YouTube is the number two search engine out there.

We also plugged the amazing anti-microbial Pasha Sponge which is a side project of The Next Wave’s Lou Lozada who runs our new Miami FL office. Lou has won One Show Pencils, Cannes Lions and can ride a surfboard, shoot video and speak Spanish all at once. You should really consider trying out one of these amazing sponges- I’ll not go back to anything else again- our other sponges just feel filthy compared to the Pasha Sponge.

Happy eating!

 

 

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.