It's what they see, not what you say.

by Matt Mattson

Have you ever seen a recruitment T-shirt or slogan that went something like this…

“Men of Honor.”

“Leadership, Scholarship, Service.”

“The Few, The Proud, The AXI's”

“Don't Talk About It. Be About It.”

“If You're a Lambda Raise Your Hand. If You're Not, then Raise Your Standards.”

You get the idea… Walk around campus glancing at the back of some Greek's T-Shirts on some campuses, and you’ll read mottoes of greatness, of integrity, and of purpose… But then walk around “Greek Row,” and you’ll probably receive a very different message.

When it comes to recruitment, often we think that it is important to come up with the best slogan, or the catchiest phrase to really boast about our best qualities. But calling a frankfurter a sirloin doesn't really make it gourmet.

I ran across this picture on the web one day. Take a look, and see if you can take any lessons from it that might relate to recruitment:

Take a closer look. That is a real picture of a real plane that crashed into a real tree next to a real sign that is advertising flying lessons. And the plan has been there a while. Would you take flying lessons there? Even if they had the catchiest marketing flier? I didn't think so.

This picture reminds me of a funny¬†image I get in my mind sometimes… It is a group of about 12 fraternity members all wearing matching shirts that claim how “gentlemanly” they are. They're standing outside of their house trying to convince a prospect of that fact, but the house behind them has 8 couches on the lawn, and 3 on the roof. There is a beer funnel hanging from the third story window, and some women's panties hanging from the trees. There are posters all over campus advertising the chapter's “Pimps and Ho's” party. The smell of stale beer is still drifting from the house, and there are black trashbags covering the windows in place of curtains…

The point is that people will put a whole lot more trust in what they actually SEE than what you tell them about your organization. Take a critical look at all the things that are creating your public image. What does your house look like? What kind of image do your members portray? How is your group seen by Joe/Jane Smith on campus? More importantly, how is it seen by the best leaders — the people you want for your chapter? Assess your public image and look to change it organically — at the source — not through advertising or manipulating public opinion.¬†

If you want a higher quantity of higher quality members, consider whether or not your chapter's physical appearance (house, property, wardrobe, paddles on rush tables, party themes, etc) are helping or hurting your cause.

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