Private Schools and Fund Raising

Customer Service:

Corporate Angels

The PGA and the Law

Small Claims Court

Associate in Insurance

Cytotechnology Major

Corrections or additions?

These stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 4, 1998. All rights reserved.

Caffeinate Your Memos

Elizabeth Ann Myers provides a jolt of creative caffeine for composers of all types of business writing -- everything from E-mail and memoranda to advertisements and flip charts. As founder of the Myers Method, providing consulting services to improve business communication skills, she emphasizes taking a client's natural verbal fluency and allowing that to come forth on paper.

Myers will speak on "PERK Up Your Writing" at the New Jersey Communications, Advertising & Marketing Association meeting on Tuesday, November 10, at 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal Hotel. Cost: $35. Call 609-890-9207.

Myers distinguishes between the process of writing and the resulting product. She distills the process into three catchy steps: pre-write, free-write and re-write. Each person, whether seasoned corporate speech writer or new account executive struggling with a first sales proposal, reaches lucid written thought by climbing this three-step ladder.

Prewriting consists of gathering thoughts and making an outline. Free-writing is just letting those words fall onto the page without concern for spelling or a finer turns of phrase. To direct your thoughts, she says, "write without stopping." Editing and refinement occur during the re-write phase. "That's where you have to be sure it's right," she says.

An outline is a crucial step that many business people love to hate. PERK is the acronym Myers uses to guide would-be authors through the outline of their written document. PERK stands for purpose clarification, express necessary details, reader centered focus, and keep it simple.

The perky writer follows these steps. First, clearly define the message to be communicated. This focuses the purpose of the document. Myers is emphatic on the need to crystallize the purpose of any business writing. When pressed she admits a lack of a clear purpose is the worst mistake a writer can make.

The writer also needs to clarify the action the document should inspire the reader to take. "If I'm writing an ad . . . the purpose of this particular ad would be to describe the product's benefits to you, and then the action would be for you to go and buy it."

Second, written material is often clogged with unnecessary or unimportant information. In deciding what to include Myers suggests asking, "What's the content that will support your purpose?" Writers should express only necessary details.

The third point is to maintain a reader centered perspective. Will this material motivate or interest the reader? Is the vocabulary used appropriate or is the reader subjected to a barrage of technical jargon? "People in business forget sometimes. They write from the writer's point of view -- this is what I have to tell you . . . instead of what do you need to know to make a decision."

Last, keep things structured yet simple with the proper use of headings, bullet points and bold type. "What readers are doing now is scanning for information . . . people don't have time to read long paragraphs anymore. They scan." Lengthy narratives are passe. "Writing has to be highly organized and simple, not complicated long sentences," she says.

Myers traces the origins of her interest in perfecting the writing process back to high school. "I came up with it because I was so frustrated in school. I knew I was smart but I sure couldn't write."

Myers went to Purdue University, has a master's degree in American studies from Northeastern Illinois University, and did postgraduate work at Rutgers in adult learning. She taught high school English and media studies and worked in public relations for Edelman Worldwide before founding the company in 1981. Now she has subcontractors using her method internationally (609-737-6832; fax, 609-737-1672, http://www.myersmethod.com).

When asked to name the one thing Myers hopes the NJ CAMA audience will take home from her talk, she translates the question into Myers Method speak, "What is my purpose?" After a moment's hesitation, her smile is audible. "The best way to have a creative outcome is to have a highly disciplined start."

-- Caroline Calogero

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Private Schools and Fund Raising

Two Lawrenceville School fundraisers will be in the spotlight at the annual Conference on Philanthropy organized by the New Jersey chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives on Thursday, November 5, at the Newark Airport Marriott. Mary Kate Barnes, the Lawrenceville School's director of alumni and development and Edward W. Probert, associate director of development at the prep school, will give a 2 p.m. workshop entitled "The Lawrenceville Campaign: How Did They Do That?" as part of the day-long conference.

The Lawrenceville Campaign raised $125 million for the school from alumni, parents, and friends in a five-year period, 1992-1997. "This was the first time the school had undertaken a campaign of this magnitude. We raised $134 million in gifts and pledges," says Barnes

At the conference Barnes and Probert will discuss the ins and outs of the campaign, their volunteer structures, committee structures, materials, and give examples of proposals. "The campaign was also backed by 100 percent support from our trustees," says Barnes.

Founded in 1811, the Lawrenceville School has grades nine to twelve and a post graduate year. Originally a private school for boys, the school has since gone coed. Out of 770 students, 42 percent are girls, says Barnes. "We had to upgrade some of the facilities, build new buildings. The money was needed for faculty salaries, unrestricted support, and scholarships. Thirty-five percent of our students get scholarships now. We would like to give more. The Lawrenceville school was the first secondary school to do something like this and now other schools are following suit," says Barnes.

(The Peddie School, for example, launched an $18 million campaign in 1994, a response to a spectacular $100 million gift from media mogul Walter Annenberg. "Once we got the $100 million," says Anne Seltzer, Peddie's development director, "we needed to prove to everybody that we did have a lot of support beyond Walter Annenberg. We launched a campaign because we had real needs and to give our alumni a chance to contribute. In the fourth year of a five-year campaign, we are over the $18 million, and we are very strict about what we count.")

The conference offers a full day of educational and networking opportunities for anyone involved in raising funds. Registration is $250 including an awards luncheon. Call 609-585-6871.

-- Teena Chandy

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Customer Service: Everybody's Job

In a highly competitive business environment where products, services and even technology can be readily duplicated, customer service could give an organization the competitive edge, says John J. Drabowski of Penn State's School of Business. Developing employee attitudes toward customer service presents a challenge to all organizations today.

Customer service goes beyond simply satisfying the customer. It means obtaining the customer's loyalty to the organization, says Drabowski. "Loyalty determines the customer's value in the long run more than satisfaction at a single event. It is very critical to maintain existing customers. Getting a new customer is much more expensive than retaining old ones."

Drabowski will discuss "Customer Service Skills for the Customization Era" at the meeting of the Human Resources Management Association on Monday, November 9, at 5.30 p.m. at the Baldassari Regency in Trenton. Cost: $35. Members of the Society of Human Resources Management student chapters are encouraged to attend for $15. Call Bill DelGesso at 215-576-6230.

Drabowski is a practicing manager who has served on the faculty of Penn State for ten years. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and an MBA in organizational behavior and management from Temple University. Drabowski is the lead instructor in Penn State's award winning Customer Relations Certificate program.

"A person who provides excellent customer service sincerely cares about satisfying the customer," says Drabowski. "He is empowered to solve the customer's problem and has the ability and authority to respond to the customer's needs. The customer expects to be immediately satisfied. He does not want to be delayed or passed on from one person to another."

Drabowski believes that customer service skills can be taught. Class room presentations, role playing, videos where you get the employee to respond to the customer, can be used to train employees to develop successful techniques and behavior.

Customer service is an organizational concept, says Drabowski. "Every employee should be dedicated to customer service, not just the customer service personnel. Each employee should have a good sense of where they fit in the organization's total focus towards customer satisfaction."

Employees should be trained to deal with different situations. For example, while dealing with unhappy customers, Drabowski says, the employee should not respond emotionally or get angry. "The focus should be on how to solve the problem, rather than arguing with the customer."

Similarly the employee should know how to deal with nontraditional customers, such as those with special needs and senior customers. Older customers may not be familiar with modern technology, like computers, and the employee should be able to help these customers understand what is going on, says Drabowski.

And most important, Drabowski says, is self esteem. Employees should develop skills that will enhance their self esteem. "Good customer service is given by persons who are confident about themselves. If you feel good about yourself you can be good to others."

-- Teena Chandy

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Corporate Angels

Ellen and Albert Stark of Stark & Stark are bringing the Budapester Klezmer Band to Richardson Auditorium to commemorate Kristallnacht on Monday, November 9. Co-sponsors for the band's first United States appearance include the United Jewish Federation Princeton Mercer Bucks, five Jewish centers and synagogues, and Triumph Brewing Company. Beneficiaries will be the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Mercer County, the Israel Dog Center for the Blind, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Call 609-895-7245 for information.

Bell Atlantic Foundation has given $2,000 to Info Line of Middlesex County Inc. for a public relations campaign to increase awareness of Info Line services. County residents can call toll free to 888-908-INFO (4636) to find out about health care and social services. Anna Lustenberg, Bell Atlantic's manager of external affairs, presented the grant to Robert Johnston, executive director of Info Line. The foundation supports quality projects and programs that address community needs through effective communications and information technology.

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The PGA and the Law

If you have any interest in golf, the question of whether Casey Martin should be permitted to use a motorized cart in Professional Golf Association tournaments may have raised your ire. Steven Leder and Marc Snyder, both attorneys with the Community Health Law Project (CHLP), will debate that question at a Law and Disability Issues conference Monday, November 9, from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the New Jersey Law Center, 1 Constitution Square, New Brunswick. Admission is free but space is tight. Fax registration to 732-828-0034.

Denying Martin the cart puts him at a disadvantage, say the pro-cart people. No, it gives him an unnecessary advantage, say the con-cart people. After all, no one would lower the basketball net for someone who is height-challenged.

Also on the docket for that day are two more debates. "Is the Americans with Disabilities Act Unconstitutional," with David Popiel and Janet Greenlee, both attorneys with the CHLP. Deborah Wean of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, formerly of New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, will take the negative stance on "Should local communities participate in determining the location and inhabitants of community residents for persons with disabilities." Popiel will represent the pro side.

The Community Health Law Project, with headquarters in South Orange and branches around the state, is a 22-year-old non-profit legal aid society that serves the legal needs of those with disabilities and the elderly. Call 973-275-1175 for information. The bar foundation is the educational and philanthropic arm of the New Jersey State Bar Association and provides free programs: call 800-FREE-LAW.

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Small Claims Court

If someone owes you money, and the amount is too small to make it worth your while to hire a lawyer, you may decide to take the case to small claims court. The small claims section of Superior Court provides a fast, inexpensive way of suing someone for small amounts of money.

John Fitzgerald, director of Warren County Legal Services, and Eric Fields, ministerial officer of the New Jersey Superior Court will give a seminar on how to use small claims court on Thursday, November 12, at 7 p.m. at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, off Route 1 at the Ryders Lane exit. Fitzgerald went to University of the Pacific Law School and is a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court committee on Special Civil Part Practice. Fields chairs the New Jersey State Court Offices Association Board of Directors. Sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, the seminar is free but call 800-373-3529 to make reservations.

An easy-to use guidebook to New Jersey law also offers a useful introduction to the mysteries of Small Claims Court. Published last June by Rutgers University Press, "You and the Law in New Jersey: A Resource Guide" sells for $50 in hardback, $19 for the paperback version. It is written by Melville D. Miller Jr., president of Legal Services of New Jersey, and Leighton A. Holness, a senior attorney with that organization, which coordinates and supports the provision of legal services to residents who cannot afford counsel. Here are some excerpts:

Filing a Suit

You will have to use the small-claims court in the county in which the person you are suing lives or where the business you are suing is located. You cannot sue in the county where you live, unless the seller also lives there. In small-claims court there is a dollar limit on how much you can recover.

Generally, you do not need a lawyer in small claims court. But if your case is very complicated or if the other side has a lawyer, it might be a good idea for you to get a lawyer also.

To start a suit, you have to file a complaint with the court clerk, who will have a complaint form you can fill out. When you fill out the complaint form, you should give

A short, clear statement that explains the facts of your case and why you are suing (this can be as short as one or two sentences).

The amount of money for which you are suing.

Your name and address (you are the plaintiff) and the name and address of the person you are suing (he or she is the defendant).

Be sure to spell the person's name correctly and use the full, correct name if you are suing a business. The name of a business is not necessarily the corporate name. You can find out the corporate name and address of a business by calling the secretary of state in Trenton or, for unincorporated businesses, by checking with the county clerk.

Attach a photocopy of the contract, if you are suing regarding a contract.

You also have to fill out a summons. A summons is a document that will be sent to the person you are suing. It notifies the defendant that you are suing and that he or she must show up in court.

You must pay a filing fee.

Your case can be heard if it is within the dollar limit and concerns, which include:

A contract or agreement. (The agreement doesn't need to be in writing.) Generally, you have six years to bring these claims.

Damage to property caused by someone's negligence (for example, driving of a motor vehicle). However, medical, malpractice, probate, and tax matters are excluded.

A landlord-tenant dispute for rent, money damages, or return of security deposit. This does not include a judgment for possession, which is brought in the Landlord-Tenant Section of the Special Civil Part.

Gather all the information you need to prove your side of the story, such as the contract, canceled checks, and receipts. If you are suing about a small item such as a radio, plan to bring that to court. If the object is something too large to bring (such as a car or a sofa), take pictures and bring them with you. This will help the judge understand your problem. You might also want to get a witness, such as a car mechanic if your case involves a car, to come to court with you to explain the problem and the cost of repair.

Settling Out of Court

Before the court date, the person you are suing may make you an offer to settle out of court. Any agreed upon settlement should be in writing and signed by all the parties. All aspects of what you agreed upon should be put down in writing. Be sure not to leave anything out. However, you should know that once you settle, you cannot sue the same person again for the same problem to get more of your money.

If the defendant pays by check, it's a good idea to make sure the check clears the bank before you drop your suit.

Going to Court

On the court date, bring all the evidence you have that you feel will help prove your case. This includes the contract, canceled checks, photos, receipts, and witnesses. If you are going to ask a witness to testify on your behalf, spend a few minutes reviewing what he or she is going to say before you go to court.

At the hearing, both you and the person you are suing will each get a chance to tell your side of the story. Generally the plaintiff goes first. As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof to show the judge that you are right.

If the defendant does not show up for the court date, you have to sign an affidavit stating that your complaint was true and that the defendant does owe you the money sued for. You still have to show the judge your evidence. If the judge decides you are entitled to an award, you will be given a default judgment because the defendant is in default for not appearing in court.

The Judge's Decision

If the judge decides in your favor, he or she will enter a judgment for you telling you the amount you have won. However, the judge does not order the defendant to pay you. Fortunately, some people pay voluntarily after a judge renders a decision.

Do not sign anything releasing the defendant from liability (such as a release form, satisfaction of judgment, or settlement of judgment amount) unless you are paid with cash, a certified check, or a money order.

Collecting the Judgment

If the defendant refuses to pay a judgment, you will have to go back to court and have the court enforce its own judgment. It might be necessary for the constable of the Special Civil Part to collect the money for you. You will have to pay a small fee plus the constable's mileage costs for this service. However, you first must find out where the defendant's money is. One easy way is to locate the defendant's bank. If you paid the defendant by check at the time of purchase or service, the name of the defendant's bank will be stamped on the back of the check when it is returned to you. Also, if you find out where the defendant works, his or her salary can be garnished.

When you collect your judgment, be sure to include all of the interest to which you are entitled.

If you owe more than the dollar limit of a small-claims court and do not want to give up the amount over that limit, you will have to sue in superior court, either in the Special Civil Part or the Law Division. If you have to go to the superior court, Law Division, you should see a lawyer.

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Associate in Insurance

Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) will be offering a new insurance option in its Business Management program this spring. This degree option, the result of collaboration between RVCC and representatives from the Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Hunterdon County Polytech, and Thomas Edison State College, includes specialized courses in Property and Liability Insurance, Personal Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Sales Agency Management, and Multiple Lines in Insurance Production.

"The college added this new program to meet the needs of our community and the demands of employers locally and in the state," says RVCC president Cary A. Israel. "It creates a standardized pathway from secondary school to the community college to the workforce or further formal education. It also provides an opportunity for those already employed by an insurance company to keep their skills in tune with the changing needs of the industry and the latest technology used in the field."

Graduates of the new degree program will be able to work as producers, managers, customer service representatives, claims adjusters, market researchers, product developers or as insurance educators.

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Cytotechnology Major At Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison State College is now offering a Bachelor of Science and Technology degree with a specialization in cytotechnology that enables technologists in the field to complete their bachelor's degree.

This program is available at the baccalaureate level for ASCP-certified cytotechnologists. Students can combine portfolio assessment of their prior learning from hospital training with distance learning programs, examinations, correspondence courses from certain regionally accredited universities, and classroom instruction to earn a college degree.

"Many experienced cytotechnologists are caught in a bind because their younger colleagues earned the bachelor's degree at the end of their training, which was not usually available in the past," says Susan O. Friedman, associate dean of Applied Science and Technology Programs at Thomas Edison State College. "They are now at a disadvantage for promotion or new positions without the degree. Thomas Edison offers the ideal degree program for busy adults to complete bachelor degree in the cytotechnology field."

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