Operation Delta Dog
Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator
Operation Delta Dog is a nonprofit organization with a mission to rescue shelter dogs and train them to work as service dogs for U.S. military veterans who suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). The dogs get the homes they need, and the veterans get the help they deserve!
January 1, 2013
The new year is here, and I’m still reeling from the wonderful public reaction to the Globe article that ran on December 30. I have been completely humbled and floored by all the responses… from friends, family, acquaintances, and many, many complete strangers—some as far away as Colorado! Three days have passed and I’m still fielding offers from people who want to volunteer, donate, serve on the board, or help in myriad other ways. I continue to be amazed at how selfless people can be, despite their busy lives. My only problem now is keeping track of them all!
Among the Globe readers who tracked me down was radio talk-show host Francesca Bastarache, who invited me to appear on her “Talk with Francesca” radio show on NBC Sports Radio Boston. I’m recording the episode in early January, but I’m not sure yet when it will air. I’ll keep you posted! Here’s a link to her show:
If I had any doubts about how the public might support an organization like Operation Canine, they disappeared as soon as that article hit the newsstand. People in Greater Lowell and Greater Boston clearly care very deeply about their veterans, and I’m feeling more and more confident that we’ll be able to get the volunteers, donors, and professionals we need to make OC a thriving and long-standing success. Here’s to 2013!
December 27, 2012
I found myself with time today to work on revising my business plan. One of my mentors, Clare Gunther, was kind enough to review my current plan and gave me some great suggestions for improvement. One of her suggestions was to create a “one-pager” that could serve on its own as a one-page business plan or serve as the opening page for the longer plan. She said that since many people won’t bother to read past the first page, it was crucial to get all of the relevant information on there, then expand on the details in the following pages.
After doing a bit of research on “one-pagers,” I decided to model mine after one that includes these basic units:
- Vision: What are you building?
- Mission: Why does this business exist?
- Objectives: What will you measure?
- Strategies: What will make this business successful over time?
- Action Plans: What is the specific work to be done?
A lot of info, especially considering that it all has to fit on one page (in a readable font size). Many of the examples I found used bullet points exclusively, but I decided to go for mostly paragraph style with a few bullet points here and there. Also, I decided to combine “Vision” and “Mission” into one, because for my purposes they seemed to be basically the same thing.
I’m still struggling a bit with font and other issues (logo or no logo?), but I’m glad to know that Clare and my other mentors are around to help with the details. We’ll have it up to snuff soon, I’m sure!
Saturday, December 22, 2012
I’ve been reflecting on this week’s Innovator Mixer, where I met all kinds of interesting people who work with people with disabilities. Although my 10-minute presentation wasn’t as “smooth” as I hoped it would be, this was definitely not a judgmental crowd! They made it very easy on me.
I was particularly interested in learning about Triangle’s work in trying to take on the abuse rates among mentally and physically disabled people, which are much higher than the abuse rates for the general population. Their approach made me think of our discussion in class about “pivot points.” Triangle’s original mission did not involve abuse issues, but they expanded and changed their model when they became aware of the high abuse rates. Check out these websites to learn more about Triangle (http://www.triangle-inc.org/) and CLASS, the other organization that presented that night (http://www.classinc.org/CLASS_staff.html).
I was also fascinated to learn about a program at UMass Lowell’s engineering department called the Assistive Technology Program, in which engineering students solve complex problems for people with physical disabilities. The professors have been quietly doing this amazing work for years, and are still looking for “new challenges.” If you know of any people with disabilities who could use a technical hand (“no problem is too big”), you can email Director Donn A. Clark at email@example.com.
To be honest, I had been worn down by the week’s nightmarish news and not really feeling like I wanted to go out and talk to people. Much to my surprise, however, I found the evening to be energizing—it was exactly the right time to find myself in a room surrounded by dedicated people who were trying to make the world a better place. It was the best kind of therapy! I came away inspired, with my faith in humanity (mostly) renewed. Here’s hoping for a more peaceful 2013.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Last night’s session with Bobbi Carlton of Carlton PR and Marketing was eye-opening and informative. For example, we learned about the importance of inbound links for search-engine optimization… So here’s one for Bobbi! Click here and help her optimize her Google listings. :-) http://www.carltonprmarketing.com/
I wanted to comment on one aspect of P.R. that she touched on briefly: press releases. I worked as a journalist for many years, so I can give a perspective from the other side of the desk, so to speak. Reporters can get very fed up with the constant stream of press releases that are blatantly self-serving and seem to have no newsworthy aspects whatsoever. There’s an old saying in journalism: “'Dog bites man' is not a story. 'Man bites dog?' Now that’s a story!” A reporter needs a story, so my advice is to give it to them.
Here’s an example from my past life… I once worked at a newspaper where I received regular press releases from a local small businessman who made and sold candles. The candles were very nice, smelled nice, etc… but where’s the story? I wanted to help the guy out, so I would ask him to come up with an angle I could use: What makes your candles new or different from others? Are they packaged in an unusual way, or made from unusual ingredients? Did the candle maker have to overcome some inspiring odds to get his candles made? In other words, what makes this newsworthy? The candle maker basically just wanted a free ad, but as a reporter, that wasn’t my job.
On the other hand, there are circumstances where those same candles would be appropriate subjects for a story. For example, my next job was as an editor at a regional lifestyle magazine. For that publication, a story about a local candle maker would be ideal. As a regional magazine, we were always looking to highlight local craftsman and businesspeople, and glossy photos of colorful candles would make a beautiful spread in a magazine. So if you find that one type of publication is slamming the door in your face, be openminded about different types of media outlets that might be more receptive.
In my experience, the relationship between reporters and P.R. professionals was too often adversarial… But it doesn’t have to be. Bobbi made a great point when she said that you have to come up with something that will benefit everyone involved. Just like anyone, journalists want to impress their bosses (in this case, the editors). Help them do that, and you’ll be sure to see your company’s name in print.
Two quick things:
I was very proud to hear that my old hometown of Monroe, CT will be hosting the Sandy Hook Elementary students indefinitely in one of Monroe's currently unused school buildings. They are asking people to send snowflake decorations to help welcome the kids ("Snowflakes for Sandy Hook"). Apparently the walls are bare and they want to make the place more welcoming and homey. If you have kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc., they can make paper snowflakes (you fold the paper a few times and cut out shapes, then unfold) and send them to this address:
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12 Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514
Also, the local United Way is working with Newtown Savings Bank to manage a fund for the victims' families. You can send donations to this address:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470
Or, click this link to use a credit card: