Sororities: An Important, Personal Request

by Matt Mattson

[I'm proud to announce the birth of our second daughter... Josie Wisdom Mattson, born 6/20/11.  She joins her sister Elliotte Piper Matttson as potential members of sororities in the fall class of 2026 and 2029 respectively.]

matt-and-girlsHere’s my reality:

1. I do a LOT of work with fraternities and sororities.

2. I have 2 daughters.

It seems inevitable to me that one or both of my beautiful little girls will probably become a sorority woman.  Reasonable guess, right?

So here’s my request to all the sorority women out there who read this blog… For the next 16-18 years, please do all you can to attract high quantities of ridiculously high quality women.

Please seek out women that are willing to challenge the status quo, women who are brave enough to buck tradition, bold women who recognize that sororities can change the world. My daughters will know that sororities are supposed to change the world, and they’ll accept nothing less.

Please, if you can, don’t have fake conversations during recruitment about cute purses, that girl’s ugly shoes, or how skanky the girls in the house down the street are. My girls will seek out women who are not afraid to be smart, curious, caring, and confident.

If possible, please stop trying to attract high quality, intelligent, worldly, leadership-oriented women by doing skits, singing songs, shouting door chants, or having lots of balloons.  Please stop worrying about your T-shirt color. My daughters won’t be interested in that stuff.  Neither are the best women on your campus.

Please make sure to remember that just because you were recruited by a formal, structured, bizarre, frilly, system built for fairness not excellence, you don’t have to keep doing it that way.  In fact, your sorority is yours to make it what you want.  My daughters will definitely know that they have the power to change what doesn’t make sense.

Please remember what your founders’ vision was for your organization.  And while challenging yourself every day with the values your founders laid out, be brave enough to create your own modern legacy of what your sorority can be.  My daughters will know that sororities aren’t for joining.  Sororities are for living.

So, to the amazing women out there in the world right now leading the sorority movement, I’m counting on you.  Big time. Be bold. Be rebellious. Be dynamic. Be excellent.

If you focus right now on recruiting truly the best of the best women on your campus to co-create the future of your sorority with you. And if you do that through authentic personal connections and powerful conversations. Then, if those women you recruited repeat that process next year, and the next year, and the next year… well, by the time my daughters come to college, sororities will be the obvious option for all the best of the best women.  By then, sororities will be recognized as the most influential, important, and well-respected groups on campus.  By then, sororities will be the epitome of Social Excellence. By then sororities will be changing the world in ways that their founders never even imagined.

I’m proud to support the sorority movement.  I’m even prouder of what I know it can become.  Thanks for reading.

Recruitment Lessons from Phired Up’s Annual BIG EVENT

by Matt Mattson

summerbash11We have been known to poke fun at the “big recruitment event” mentality that many organizations have (see here, here, here, and here for just a handful of the examples).  We even called the phenomenon of recruiting through big events “eventitis” in our books.

But then we throw a big event every summer called Summer BashSummer Bash ’11 (Here’s info on the ’10 event) was a big outdoor barbecue that includes yard games (bocce ball, cornhole, etc.), lots of free food, and tons of people gathering together all at once.  We just held our fifth Summer Bash last week, and it was a huge success!  We again had around 100 fraternity/sorority professionals from the Midwest gather together for this fun event.

Are we hypocritical?  Do we critique the “big event” and then throw one every year?  Well, the answers are NO and YES in that order — there are some key differences between our “big event” and typical recruitment “big events.”  Here are some lessons we’d like to share that makes our big event, Summer Bash, a big success year after year.

m-and-j-cooking-summerbash111.  For the Benefit of the Attendees.  This event is not about selling Phired Up products or “recruiting clients.”  We don’t talk business.  We don’t host this event to drive sales.  This event is purely for the benefit of those attending.  We started hosting this event primarily because we knew fraternity/sorority professionals in the Indianapolis area would like a reason to get together in the summertime, and since we are all about Social Excellence, we thought we should host it.  People don’t fear being “sold” at the event, or that the event is us being “fake” so that we can trick them into buying our stuff at another time.  It’s just a barbecue.  No ulterior motives. Just fun.

2. Personal Invites.  Nearly everyone we invite we already know.  We don’t do mass marketing hoping that a bunch of strangers will show up at our event and we can meet them there.  We go meet people, build relationships, and then invite those people (and anyone else they want to bring) to our event.  It’s big because we have a big network, not because we have awesome branding or we have a lot of sidewalk chalk.  P.S. We’ve never even made t-shirts for this event!

3. Well Planned. We don’t wait until the last minute to put this thing together.

4. Not Flashy.  Honestly, we make cheap hotdogs, plain burgers, baked beans in a can, and put frozen chicken directly on the grill.  We use no decorations.  We don’t really spend that much money making it happen (beyond buying the food).  It’s at a local park.  The branding and look of it is pretty simple.  IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE not the organization.

We’re excited already for #SummerBash12 next year!

Produce a Summer (Recruitment) Blockbuster

by Vince Fabra

jacksparrowIt seems like every Friday during the summer one or two or three blockbuster movies are released. The releases of these movies are preceded by months of hype, propped up by massive budgets, and overpromoted through press junkets and guest appearances on The View (not that I watch that) by the movie’s brightest stars. You can always count on a blockbuster for two things: 1) It will cost you anywhere from $7.50-$12.   2) You will always be entertained. Blockbusters are fun. We sit on the edge of our seats while watching the superheroes save planet earth or Captain Jack Sparrow sail the high seas. I am not questioning their entertainment value. However, I do have a few questions. Where is the originality? Do these films have any heart? Other than entertainment, what do these movies provide the audience?

Now, I do not want to sound like Roger Ebert who seems to hate every fan favorite… Instead, I provide this critique because I think there is a direct connection to fraternity summer recruitment strategies.  As you map out your plan for summer recruitment, be aware of the common pitfalls of the summer blockbuster.

Originality – I love superhero movies, but do we really need a fifth X-Men? Johnny Depp is awesome, but I feel it’s time to hang up the sword and three corner hat. And honestly, how many alien creatures can threaten the existence of mankind?

When mapping out your summer recruitment, try to avoid the same old story lines and gimmicks of the past. Try new activities, tactics and events to get connected with incoming and returning students alike. Here are some good ideas to get you started (See the Summer Recruitment Section of this document).

Budget – I am sure it cost a lot of money for super cool special effects and prime time advertisements. Nowadays, it seems like if you want a movie to make money, you have to spend money.

You do not need to spend money to drive results for your summer recruitment. Be careful of planning big events that require a large chunk of your recruitment budget. Effective small activities are the way to build relationships. Check out this link for a list of effective small activities that drive results during the school year and over the summer.

Storyline – It seems that Blockbuster movies distract us with special effects, A-list actors, and Ryan Reynolds in tights (it’s tough to look away). If all the bells and whistles were stripped away, we would be left with nothing substantial for a plotline.

Could the same be said for your chapter? If we strip away the cover band, chicken wings, float trip, minor league baseball game, and/or night out in the nearest big city, would you and your members be making genuine connections with potential new members? In other words, are you and your members having meaningful conversations during your summer recruitment activities? Use this blog post (Fun Zone/Deep Zone) as a guide to quality conversations.

This summer, you are the director, the producer, the star and the screenwriter. Create something worthwhile. Make your Summer Recruitment a little less blockbuster and a little more indy film.

Lights, Camera, Recruitment!