Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Helping MDI to help educate the public on educational security

Mike Garcia is one of my oldest clients and one of those guys who I truly consider as a friend, so when he called me at 7:45 a.m. I knew it had to do with the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Mike and I have already been working in the educational security space with some trade publications for MDI Security, but this was an opportunity to tell our story to the local media. In the course of one day, we were able to do the following:

1) Get both WOAI and KTSA to do radio interview on the topic;

2) Get KENS 5 and KSAT 12 to do interviews with us;

3) Mangage a 15-minute segment with the Thompson Brothers on WOAI 1200 radio;

4) Arrange an interview with Bill Zalud at Security Magazine and arrange for a webinar on campus security.

Back in the days of our work with SecureInfo, we often called each other when the media reported about viruses and other concerns. It was not uncommon for one of us to call the other guy at 4 a.m. and start working on setting up media interviews. And, with the local media, many of the guys I called at the early hour have advanced to news directors jobs at their stations, so it was easier for us to get through to the decision makers.

Still, after all these years of working with Mike, I learned something today. And that was that it's always important to help visiting media understand the story in full before even doing an interview. Mike or I, with the help of his staff, showed the media how MDI had helped clients like the San Diego ISD with educational security platforms before doing any interviews. That helped the media understand the story before they talked to our selected experts. As we were waiting to go on the air with Jason and Rob Thompson, we talked with an MDI affiliate who said they had problems with a story in another part of the country. An electronic media type had thought that this company was already doing work with Virginia Tech. They of course led the story on their local newscast with the "a local company is already doing work with Virginia Tech...." story.

So, I learned the importance of making sure the media understood the story before having them do the interviews. At times, it took Mike and I an hour to complete the background before giving the reporter/cameraman the interview. While I have not seen the stories done on MDI yet, my phone isn't ringing either.

And finally, here's a kudo to Mike Garcia. Anytime you can do an interview with the Thompson Brothers and keep 85-percent for your message is a major accomplishment.

Sadly, this story is ongoing, and I hope that we can convey to major decision makers the better processes to help secure college campuses. My 18-year-old so Pete is going to be a freshman this fall at Lamar. Meanwhile, my almost 22-year old step daughter, Jen, is going to law school (she has already been accepted at Mercer). So, I have a vested interest in helping keep them and my younger, Kate, a 15-year old freshman safe from the kinds of tragedies that are occurring more and more frequently.

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