Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Out of the Box

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 03:44 PM

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In last month's editorial, I wrote about the detachment and confusion about returning to work after an almost two week absence over the holidays. I promised to write in this issue about a couple of things I’d like to get done this year. What follows are three somewhat-creative ideas (note that this is not a comprehensive to-do list):

First, I’d like to talk about marketing. HAC has a great director of marketing and fundraising, Julie Wake. But often Julie has to work with me on marketing issues and I am not inclined to talk about or brag about what we do which is probably not a good thing. I am also not a “process” person. By that I mean I just like to get things done.

Sometimes, though, a well-organized process is necessary to getting things accomplished.

Recently, a friend made me aware of a video that had been filmed at the Moses Brown School, a private prep school in Providence, Rhode Island. The video below shows the head of school announcing the closure of the school, due to a recent snowstorm, in song. It is worth watching.


First, the video is entertaining and well done. Second, it took a lot of work on the part of students and officials at the school. Third, it makes you like the school and want to send your kids there. In other words, it is a marketing video using the announcement of a school closing as its vehicle to carry the message.

Often, I meet people and they thank me for how HAC helped them, but few of them know what HAC does beyond what they learned from their own experience. This year we need to figure out how to get our message across to the general public and public officials on Cape Cod.

The Moses Brown video has had over 3 million viewings! It used humor, music and clever lyrics - things that we never use. Should we? What about using a fun video to announce, for example, that a housing development has been completed and there are rental units available?

Impending Retirements

A second thing I’d like to accomplish this year is to identify existing staff who want to “intern” for jobs that will become vacant due to impending retirements. People could learn new skills, develop new relationships, and see how a part of the agency they previously knew little about operates.

We then might be in a better position to select a replacement, reorganize one or more jobs and help people decide if they want to advance or change the focus of their careers. This would be part of our overall succession planning activities to replace senior staff who will be retiring in the next five years.

The third idea that I hope to put in place is the development of quarterly or semi-annual housing white papers for Cape Cod in which we make recommendations for what needs to be done to meet our affordable and workforce housing needs.

Ideally, we would work with other agencies to look at ideas to make things work better. For example, we might want to talk about plans with the Growth Management Department in the Town of Barnstable or the Cape Cod Commission to see how their ideas and plans can be furthered and integrated into what is going on in other towns on the Cape.

We would share ideas and plans and decide how to best accomplish them with the results shared with broader audiences. The “papers” would be just one way to bring together organizations to more effectively work together to accomplish common goals. 

Tags: housing, HAC, marketing, Moses Brown School, Rick Presbrey