by Matt Mattson
As an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University, I earned my Bachelor's degree in Advertising/Public Relations. I learned all about messaging, marketing, advertising, press releases, media relations, etc., etc. I focused four years of my life on those subjects, so you’ll probably expect me to offer tons of tips about how student organizations (fraternities and sororities especially) can “get their name out there.” After all, that's one of the first strategies we hear when we ask student leaders about their current plans for recruiting a higher quantity of higher quality members into their organizations. They say, “Well, we've got some great new plans for big events and advertising efforts that will get our name out there.”
Unfortunately, I'm not going to offer those tips (not here anyway). Because based on what we know at Phired Up Productions as the recruitment experts, getting your name out there is not nearly as effective as getting names into your organization.
For those of you who have read Good Guys or I Heart Recruitment, or for those of you who have participated in one of our Dynamic Recruitment Workshops, or even if you've been a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we often talk about several core concepts to re-shape recruitment practices. 1) You Can't Recruit Who You Don't Know, 2) People Don't Join Organizations, People Join People, and 3) Quantity Drives Quality. None of these cornerstone concepts call for great advertising, world-class marketing themes, or “getting your name out there.” In fact, they teach the importance of building public awareness simply by creating recruitment processes that support as many one-on-one relationships between your current members and the population of your campus/community.
Now, of course, we do address marketing efforts in our publications when we talk about ensuring that any marketing/PR that you do invest does two things: a) Communicates your organization's core values, not just catchy sayings or cute themes, and b) Describes the benefits of membership, not just the features of your organization. The truth is, however, that we offer these tips because we see that many organizations' marketing and PR efforts actually do more harm than good for the organization (or at the least are a waste of money).
Phired Up's messages, philosphies and systems are about driving results. While we value (me especially, with my PR background) good marketing, advertising and public relations efforts, we recommend that these efforts not be the bulk of your recruitment plan or system. Instead, change public opinion and “get your name out there” through empowering your members to meet as many prospective members as possible (and referral sources). Use a Dynamic Recruitment model. Get more names IN, worry less about getting your name OUT.