Friday, May 30, 2008

General Ramblings - Heck Of A Job - White House continues to be clueless regarding New Orleans

The density of some federal officials can truly be stunning. The White House Office of Faith-Based And Community Initiatives decided it would be a good idea to hold a conference in New Orleans to discuss disaster preparedness.

According to the White House, the conference was “designed to highlight and strengthen the role of faith-based and community organizations in disaster relief and preparedness with a special focus on the Gulf Coast region. The White House Conference on Disaster Relief and Preparedness will discuss ways President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative vision is engaged across the Gulf Coast region and will offer tools and training for social service organizations as they work to rebuild and sustain their communities.”

They can’t be serious. Not only is the idea of this conference in New Orleans an insult to the people who survived Hurricane Katrina, it insults all of the sector leadership who continue to put the city back together without the help of the White House.

This concept can only be considered a “Brown-ie” moment, as in when President George Bush turned to Michael D. Brown, his head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and exclaimed, “You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie.” That was the guy who had to be told folks were stranded at the convention center for days without food and water. He resigned about two weeks after the storm swept across the city on Aug. 29, 2005 and the 17th Street Canal levee was breeched allowing the city to become part of Lake Pontchartrain.

The Louisiana Association of Nonprofits, the nation’s major charities such as The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross, and communications groups such as TechNOLA Project, have struggled to get the city’s lights back on. They have pulled together and coordinated activity that should be responsibilities of government.

It’s true that it was a free-for-all when the storm hit. It can be argued that the only good response would have been to get people out of there. No matter the gravity of a situation, there are some people who will not leave their homes. What exacerbated the tragedy was that there wasn’t a plan for those people and to evacuate quickly the people who wanted to leave.
And, of course, the people of New Orleans still blame the federal government for ignoring decades of warnings that the levees were crumbling and endangering the city.
The federal government can’t ignore one of its major economic centers. But a “Do what I say, not what I do” attitude is incredibly arrogant.

This column generally starts or ends with an amusing quote that ties things together via irony. The suggestion of this conference is ironic enough. NPT

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Communications ... 7 messaging roadblock questions

Taking an honest, searching look at your organization's message is a necessary task. One result of examining the message could very well be a decision to modify the message to develop it the best way possible, or simply to leave it as it is and put a renewed emphasis on conveying the message.

Although this process might seem straightforward, Rebecca K. Leet, a strategic consultant to nonprofit organizations, cautions that there could be roadblocks to success in terms of developing a strategic message.

Those roadblocks can be overcome if an organization is willing to answer the following questions:

  • Will we involve an interdisciplinary team in the message-development process?
  • Will the team include top leadership of our organization or programs?
  • Will we use the strategic message that is developed for a sustained period of time?
  • Will we be disciplined about how we use the message, for example, refraining from changing it because of boredom?
  • Will we commit to stating an organizational expectation that everyone in the organization, including board members and volunteers, will learn to use the strategic message?
  • Will we refrain from telling our audiences what they should want or do?
  • Will we practice linking what we want them to do with something they desire?