ESA member companies play a valuable role in getting the
word out about the Electronic Security Guidelines for Schools. One useful example
comes from Safety Technologies Inc., based in the Cleveland suburb of
Middleburg Heights, Ohio.
The company sponsored a "Secure Our Children” event at its
facility on July 31 that introduced the guidelines to school administrators,
law enforcement officials, businesspeople, security professionals and other
interested parties from the community.
Marketing and Communications Coordinator Lisa Matthews – who
is also chair of ESA’s Sales and Marketing Professionals (SMP) group – was
chiefly responsible for publicizing the event and inviting potential attendees,
using a lot of legwork, heavy social networking, and a list of contacts from a
number of sources, including the Electronic Security Association of Ohio.
Doug Gambrell, sales and project manager for Safety
Technologies and a member of the panel that created ESA’s guidelines, played a
major role in organizing the event. Despite common recognition of the need for
improved school security, he said, the company wanted to help participants
determine the best way forward.
"Everybody’s got something right now, whether it’s an array
of cameras, different levels of security card access and so forth,” Gambrell
said. "What they don’t have is a clear picture of how it comes together, or how
it’s integrated, and that’s what we were trying to do.”
After opening remarks from President and CEO Michael Pope, Gambrell
led the meeting with a review of the guidelines, followed by representatives
from several companies who provided an overview of technology issues. He said
it was made clear "in the first two minutes” that the emphasis was going to be
on information and not sales.
"To me, the key to the ESA guidelines is that they aren’t
dependent on a specific brand,” he said. "It’s generic information that’s
useful to everybody. They helped to facilitate the discussion because it’s not
a sales message. It’s not a piece of direct sales literature coming from me,
and that enhances our credibility.”
School procurement in particular is a very process-oriented
undertaking, Gambrell said, with rules and procedures that have to be closely
"This is where the ESA guidelines come in,” he said. "We
tried to show them how they can get control over that process. They have to bid
it out, but they can write the bid in a way that’s clear. The guidelines can
help with language and oversight. We used them as a way to talk about the
process, and the things they can do on their own.”
After the presentations, attendees met in smaller groups
with the representatives. After a company-hosted lunch, the discussion
continued casually into the afternoon.
"We had some terrific conversations,” Matthews said. "It
wasn’t just the presenters. It was people who are in the trenches who had the
solutions and the ideas.”
At various points throughout the day, Gambrell estimated, there
were upwards of 30 participants. Both he and Matthews were pleased with the
"Everybody took away something that was useful for them,”
Matthews added. "We were able to show that it’s not just some pie in the sky.
We can really do this, and this is how you implement it. They just need to be
pointed in the right direction, and we want to be that resource for them.
"If we can get this information out there, and if anything
like this helps to save other children, it’s worth it.”