Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

Handling inquiries from news reporters and others

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Today’s post is penned by a guest blogger, Dennis Doffing, National Sales Manager for Service Providers, at Satellite Tracking of People. He has posted on using VeriTracks for evidence-based practices in the past. I appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge with the readers.

I’m happy to get another opportunity to be a Guest Utterer on Greg"s Blog. Remember the old joke you know it will be a bad day when you arrive at work and a 60 Minutes crew is waiting in the lobby? Well, running an EM program means at some point you or your agency will come to the attention of news reporters, local and otherwise. Preparation by having some guidelines in place NOW will be a great help when reporters call about an incident.

Check what your agency may already have in place to handle requests from news reporters. Most agencies have a designated media relations department or public information professional. Take time to get to know these people or the individual professional and help them understand the mission of the program and the tools used to help keep enrollees accountable and change their behavior. Also explain how the program and its available tools help maintain a high level of public safety. Give them a list of contact people, including phone numbers and email addresses for inquiries received after hours or on weekends/holidays. Make sure you update the list of contact people when needed, such as changes in responsibilities, new hires or new phone/email information.

The media relations department or public information professional can likely provide training to you and/or your staff for talking to reporters. Prior to talking to a reporter, know what information can be released and adhere to the privacy laws in your jurisdiction. Privacy laws differ by state but most have information classified as public, private and confidential. For example, names of enrollees may be public due to open court information (not so with most juvenile cases), but addresses, schedules and victim information is likely classified as private or confidential.

Other ideas and considerations include:

  • Have a media packet available for reporters, which provides good background information. This usually consists of general program information, sample forms, equipment brochure, program statistics, general profile of the type of individual enrolled in the program, reports documenting evidence-based practices, industry standards" and the like. If your agency publishes an annual report, include it in the information packet.
  • Gather relevant information, reports and data on a situation as soon as possible. Also, discuss with staff members and others the need to route all media requests to the agency"s media relations department or public information professional. Reporters already know to start there, but they also want the opportunity for exclusive information and/or interviews, so they may contact you or others in your agency directly.
  • Provide a timely response to a reporter"s request. Even though all reporters work on strict deadlines, it"s okay to take time to research an answer to a question. But don t avoid reporters and their questions. Doing so can only make you and/or agency look bad to the reading/viewing public or cause the reporter to escalate his/her request to the agency"s administration or a legal subpoena.
  • Generate a simple media response policy if your agency doesn t already have one. It can be as straightforward as the agency doesn t comment on personnel issues or doesn t comment on pending violation investigations. Whatever the policy, make sure your staff knows it and strictly adheres to it.
  • When speaking to reporters, be aware of sound bites. You may answer a question with a long narrative response, but what airs in the TV report or is published in the newspaper or a web site is a very small portion of that answer. It"s the portion of your response the reporter deems to be the most relevant or news worthy to the overall story. Work the theme into your response whenever possible. This takes practice and the media relations department or public information professional can help you develop sound-bite friendly responses through training.
  • Get to know local reporters when not in the midst of a situation. Media outlets remain hungry for news and information, especially since many of them are looking to fill 24 hours of programming every day. Work with the media relations department or public information professional to proactively pitch stories to the reporter(s) covering criminal justice issues in your jurisdiction. It could be a possible story on the positive impact your program is having on enrollees, their family and the community; key points from a report highlighting positive statistics or dollar savings to taxpayers.

This is only a brief overview on some ideas related to reporter interactions. It"s important to know who in your agency is the go-to person for inquiries from news reporters and how to respond to questions from reporters. Preparation is key and will serve you well during times of stress.

Why agencies choose STOP with confidence

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Earlier this month, I listed 10 things agencies should consider before changing vendors. Now comes the easy part for me: explaining why agencies confidently choose Satellite Tracking of People as their new provider of GPS and RF enrollee monitoring system and services.

(1) Budget STOP consistently offers our products and services at or below competitor prices. And when agencies do dig a little deeper into pricing, STOP comes out as the best value almost every time. There are no additional costs for anything we do. What"s included?

– Shipping
– Reasonable levels of shelf/spare equipment
– Certification letters for court activities relating to the location of an enrollee(s)
– Consumables (straps, strap clips, etc.
– On-site and online training courses

So making a budget is simple. Multiply STOP"s per diem by the number of people you supervise by 365 days will give you the maximum STOP will charge your agency.

(2) Ease of Transition STOP recently completed two transitions from one vendor"s system to ours and collectively involved more than 2,000 devices. This was done over a seven-week period with the assistance from more than eight STOP staff members. We provided all the necessary on-site training courses, training materials, transition personnel, devices and technical services and support.

(3) References Just ask, and I"ll send you a list!

(4) System functionality VeriTracks, STOP"s software application, is 100% internet based. There is no risk of viruses, security breaches or malicious software invading your agency"s IT system or individual computers. Our system is also customizable for your specific needs. There are options your agency may choose not to use on day 1, but introduce at a later date. Also, VeriTracks can customize the alerts you receive, allowing you to focus on the highest priority items.

(5) Latest technology STOP is on version 5 of our GPS device and version 2 of our RF device. Each time we upgrade our devices, we provide them at no additional charge to the agency.

(6) Equipment functions Test our equipment and entire system for two weeks free. We ll provide all the training and supplies necessary for you to effectively put our system through its paces. Our support team will provide daily support by reviewing tracks, alerts, etc., so you fully understand how our equipment and services work.

(7) Geographic and environmental circumstances STOP provides multiple cellular carriers to give you the best coverage possible. Also, since our hardware is small, there is little need for large storage closets or cabinets for shelf stock. And we ship our equipment in minimal packaging to reduce our footprint in your offices and impact on the environment.

(8) Communication after implementation STOP"s implementation and service doesn t stop after the devices are installed on enrollees. We also provide proactive customer assistance and support for up to 90 days after installing equipment on enrollees. During this time, our technical support agents contact agency officers daily to discuss their caseloads and to offer suggestions for improving compliance or additional training. This is provided at no additional charge.

(9) Staff support Most agency officers who participate in the testing our equipment in preparation of possible switching to our system understand the benefits of it. It is vital for officers who will use the equipment and software have first-hand experience using it prior to the agency switching. If officers feel like they need more time than the usual two-week free trial of our system, we gladly provide it. We know it is important to the overall success of transitioning from one vendor"s system to ours that frontline officers feel comfortable and have confidence in the prospective system.

(10) Trust — We’ll earn your trust from Day 1. You’ll just have to trust me on this one …

Now that the advantages of STOP are spelled out what are you waiting for?!

The need for speed

Monday, June 21st, 2010

In the recent customer survey (quick side note: the more people who respond, the better STOP gets), one of the more common issues brought up was the speed of VeriTracks. We hear you and are working on options as I write this post.

But I want to provide a little color on our system and why some people think it’s slow. VeriTracks is written for the world of Web 2.0, which provides a dynamic environment for you on the web. Remember back in the day (not that long ago), every website was just text with the occasional picture? Now we have Flash movies (pretty standard, just don’t tell Apple), annoying music, pulsating advertisements, crazy backgrounds and other web advancements that make me long for the days of just banner ads.

VeriTracks is written in Java script, allowing for quick movement within the application and rapid recall of loaded information. Where we get criticized for being slow, we make up with more information that’s accessible in an extremely short period of time when fully loaded. Think about the Supervision tab. Within it you can look at all your offenders, which can be two or 200. We load that information once and allow you to return to it without having to reload, thus" improving your experience in VeriTracks.

Other tracking applications are linear. They may appear quicker at first, but you can only do one thing at a time. Within VeriTracks, you can enroll someone, review current enrollees, check inventory and run a bunch of reports simultaneous. In other applications, you have to go to the menu and select what you want to do first. Then go back to the menu and select what you want to do next. That doesn’t seem fast too me or efficient.

Now that I’ve provided some background on why we chose Java script for VeriTracks 10.0, we’re working on ways to rev up the application. One way is with Google Chrome. There are limitations for many agencies to use Chrome, but that browser was written for Java script. Google saw the future and created a great browser. However, some items within VeriTracks don’t work properly and we’re addressing that in subsequent releases.

On another positive note, Microsoft is great at copying and Internet Explorer 9.0 works even better (coming soon to a computer near you in 2011 or in government speed 2014). We are also working on tweaking the internal code of certain frequently used screens to make a noticeable difference with current versions of Internet Explorer.

STOP strives to make your job of supervision as efficient and effective as possible. We provide more tools to you than any other monitoring company. There are trade offs and now we want to make sure that everyone is happy.