Change Your Image (With the Greatest PR Campaign In The World!)

by Matt Mattson

How can you change your organization’s image on your campus, or in your community?  How can you fight the stereotypes that plague your group and keep high quality people from joining?  What can you do about the campus administrators, student newspaper editors, admissions counselors, and professors that talk badly about your organization?

I’ve got great news.  I’ve uncovered the greatest Public Relations campaign in the history of the earth, and it applies to organizations of all sorts — from student clubs, to fraternities and sororities, to community and civic groups, and more.

Before I just come right out and tell you the secret, I’ll tell you where I learned it.  In college I actually studied advertising and public relations for my undergraduate degree.  For four full years I toiled relentlessly to learn to write press releases, buy advertising space, write news copy, and design logos.  I learned about branding, media, marketing, and so much more.  Then, in my final “capstone” class of my college career, the professor said something painfully true toward the end of the semester, “I’m guessing you’re all experts in the tactics of PR by now, but I’ll tell you something that probably none of your other professors have mentioned – public relations is just lunch.”

Lunch?  I was confused.  Then it sank in.  The best (and really the only) way to change people’s minds about your group is through trust.  The best way to earn trust is through relationships.  One of the best way to build relationships is through… lunch.

How to do the greatest PR campaign in the world (for college student organizations):

  1. Make a list of the top 25 most influential, non-affiliated (with your organization), undergraduate student leaders on your campus.
  2. Make another list of the top 10 faculty/staff members who are best positioned to help your cause but don’t yet do so.
  3. Take those 35 people out to coffee, lunch, breakfast, dinner, or just for a one-on-one meeting with you.
  4. Next, just ask questions.  Listen.  Ask more questions.  Listen carefully.  Say thank you.

That is all.  Here are some of my favorite questions to ask during these campaign:

“I’m trying to learn from the most influential people on campus.  I want to make my group better, and I deeply respect you.  I want to learn from you. The more honest your answers the better I’ll be able to improve my group.  I really trust your opinion.  Can I ask you some questions?”

  • What do you really think of our organization – deep down?
  • If our organization didn’t exist, how much would that matter to you? to this campus?
  • If you were in charge of our organization, what would you do differently?
  • How did you first learn of our organization?
  • Why have you never joined our organization?
  • What could we have done differently to have attracted someone like you to our group?
  • If you were part of a group with a mission that read “[insert your mission],” how would you lead it?
  • What type of people should we be seeking out that we aren’t already?  How do we find them?
  • What are the groups on campus that you respect the most?  What makes them great in your mind?
  • Would you be willing to meet with some of my fellow leaders to share this point of view?
  • If I wanted to find other people who think like you, who are 5 other people you’d recommend I call?

We teach Dynamic Recruitment.  Doing this will help with membership recruitment (a lot if you do it right).
We teach Social Excellence.  Doing this is Socially Excellent.

If you have an image that needs changing or improving, just by doing this with everyone on your list it is likely that your image will quickly start to shift from whatever it was to “the group who is trying to get better and who seeks advice from top tier leaders.”  That’s not a bad image to have.  Plus you’ll probably end up with about 35 really influential people on campus who now know you on a first name basis, associate your organization with a pleasant conversation, and are willing to help.

So, go have lunch.

Recruitment Done Right

by Vince Fabra

Where can we see recruitment done right?  Let’s look at a few examples.

NCAA Athletics
The Military
Innovative Companies

From these examples we can learn powerful recruitment lessons. Recruit with… INTENTIONALITY, FERVOR, VALUES, TRANSPARENCY, and focus on TOP TALENT.

nicksabanal410pw_010512fNCAA Athletics – Let’s use an example of recruitment from a major sport and the reigning champion team from said sport.

How do you think Coach Nick Saban recruits a quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide? Do you think that he walks around campus with a football and says, “Hey son, if you can hit me with a tight spiral then we’ve got a spot for you?” Or do you think that he has a list compiled of every player at each position that he is interested in by the time they are a sophomore or junior in high school? He sends these players letters in the mail, visits them in there homes and invites them to campus for a VIP tour of the facilities. He and his staff are persistent and make a recruit feel wanted and important.

The two key elements of recruitment that are most present in college athletics are INTENTIONALITY and FERVOR.

Intentionality – Players don’t choose schools and schools don’t choose players on accident. There is a reason that they call the commitment letter a high school player signs “The Letter of INTENT”. Teams seek out, identify, and court top talent with an unrelenting FERVOR.

armyFERVOR – Why does Nick Saban, his staff and every college football staff recruit with such a passionate fervor? Answer: Because they want their team to be the best. Nick Saban works hard at recruiting because he wants his team to be the best.

Recruit with INTENTIONALITY because you believe that recruitment does not happen by accident.

Recruit with FERVOR because you recognize that the members in your chapter are directly related to the quality of your chapter.

Next level – The Military

Now, I don’t know too much about the specifics of any of the branches of the military. I do not have a military background nor does anyone in my family. However, I recognize that the military does an amazing job recruiting with their VALUES. They are TRANSPARENT about the sacrifice and expectations of an airmen/soldiers/marines/sailors, and joiners are aware of those sacrifices and expectations.

Recruit with your VALUES because you are proud of what your organization stands for and you want potential joiners to feel that pride as well.

Recruit with TRANSPARENCY because you know that it is pointless to recruit 30 people and initiate 9.

Next example - Innovative Companies

classified-adAmong the innovative companies of the day, Apple and the products they produce are on the cutting edge of innovation. It is safe to say that some of the most creative minds around are tinkering with and building the Apple products that most of us use each and every day. Let’s speculate about how these “creative minds” come to work for this leading company. Do you think that Apple posts ads on Craig’s List – “WANTED: A really smart person that can design the new iPhone 5”? Or do you think that Apple IDENTIFIES TOP TALENT in the field and actively pursues them. “You think different, and so do we. Come join our team.”

Recruit by IDENTIFYING TOP TALENT because you want people in your chapter that ‘think different” when it comes to fraternity or sorority.