Last week (May 11th, 2020) the NPC released a report providing guidance to Panhellenic sorority leaders across North America. (Download report here). This report is exciting. It offers hope and possibility to Panhellenic women in the wake of COVID-19 and its impact on sorority recruitment. Phired Up and TechniPhi strongly support the spirit of the report. We’ve been advocating for guidance like this throughout the entirety of this challenging pandemic (see our joint statement with AFLV from early April 2020, our initial Guide To Digital Recruitment, and our recommendation for The Top Ten Things Your Chapter Should Do Right Now To Respond to COVID-19). We celebrate the work of the task force and want to raise our hand to help in any way possible.
The challenge right now is this: How can Panhellenic sorority student leaders adjust very quickly to these new recruitment realities?
Before you read any further: EVERY PANHELLENIC LEADER SHOULD READ THIS ARTICLE AND THE LINKS FOUND WITHIN AS A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR “WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW.” Will you please send this blog to those women?
(Listen… We know this is long. But it’s SUPER important. If you want to know our final recommendations, they are as follows: 1) Remove barriers, 2) Cultivate connection with PNMs 3) Actively promote sorority life, 4) Listen to the guidance of your advisors and professionals. But the details are what matter right now. This is long but meant to be practical and specifically helpful for this moment).
In this article, we will try to build upon 4 of the key points from the NPC report and help Panhellenic student leaders with actionable recommendations that will drive results.
COB Is Your New Friend (Even In The Summer For Some Chapters)
Continuous Open Bidding (COB) as a recruitment method, might be happening for chapters around North America more often and at different times of the year than we’re used to. THAT’S GREAT! However, many chapter members are unfamiliar with and uncomfortable with COB-style recruitment efforts.
There are even new guidelines within the NPC’s recent task force report that help sorority women understand how to execute summer recruitment (when appropriate based on local policies). Summer recruitment is an exciting possibility, especially when it isn’t abused by chapters to pressure incoming students into their sorority. Summer recruitment is a time to build relationships, build trust, learn about PNMs, and share the benefits of sorority membership through personal stories.
Any Panhellenic chapter engaging in COB (during the summer or the school year) should be using ChapterBuilder. It is a year-round recruitment management technology that is being adopted rapidly by hundreds of sorority chapters right now.
Let’s celebrate and encourage COB like never before! Let’s find new and virtual ways to do it. We have recommendations. See the resources below.
Recruitment Counselors as Ambassadors (or “The Street Team”)
Recruitment Counselors are such an important part of the Panhellenic sorority recruitment process. They typically guide, mentor, and counsel PNMs during what can be an intense primary recruitment experience.
But Recruitment Counselors can be (and should be) more! These women are often some of our best members, and they’re often rising leaders of the community. Phired Up has been teaching the concept of a “Fraternity/Sorority Street Team” that caught on with several communities around the country. READ THIS RESOURCE and consider how your Recruitment Counselors can be active ambassadors for the Panhellenic community starting immediately!
Marketing The Panhellenic Sorority Experience
It’s time to take control of the story of sorority life. It is especially important in this new post COVID-19 world. Telling a positive, powerful, compelling story about sorority membership requires smart strategy and thoughtful tactics.
This is one of the top 3 key priorities listed in the task force report from the NPC. We have to actively and collectively market the sorority experience.
In this resource there are 4 videos that Panhellenic sororities can use right now to start to promote sorority life.
The Phired Up team works with communities around North America to build specific marketing plans and write narratives to help sorority women tell their story. Read our manifesto on sorority/fraternity marketing. Read these 4 Marketing Insights For Fraternity/Sorority Marketing. And let’s enlist the thousands of women who are serving as a “PR Chair” (or something similar) for their chapters or for their Panhellenic Council and prepare them to do their job at an even higher level (here’s a guide for PR chairs).
Positive Panhellenic Contact
The NPC task force report reinforces and seems to strongly push for a whole new understanding of the idea of “Positive Panhellenic Contact.” No longer does disaffiliation, deactivated social media accounts, “no talking to first years,” or no summer recruitment make sense (these were likely never the true intentions of this concept to begin with). You have been given permission to be fully normal. Make friends. Actively engage incoming and current students.
IT IS VITAL THAT PANHELLENIC LEADERS EDUCATE NOT JUST CHAPTER LEADERS, BUT ALL CHAPTER MEMBERS ON WHAT POSITIVE PANHELLENIC CONTACT REALLY MEANS.
We recommend having a simple statement that you reinforce over and over and over, such as:
“Our sorority women should actively build relationships and promote the overall idea of sorority to potential members in any and every way they can. But please don’t promote only your chapter. Build relationships (friendships). Learn about PNMs. Actively become a part of their life. Just don’t promote your organization over the others on campus. Honor each PNM by allowing them to find the sorority that’s for them when the time is right.”
Here’s one of our favorite lines from The Manual of Information. “Are your silence rules outdated? Strict silence is intended for the short period of time, not more than 24 hours, from the signing of the membership recruitment acceptance binding agreement (MRABA) until bid distribution. Additional silence rules are not desirable because they can suppress participation in recruitment and stunt growth in Panhellenic communities. Panhellenics are encouraged to eliminate all silence and “no contact” statements from their recruitment rules except for the strict silence required during the short time between preference and bid distribution.” (Page 118)
It’s time to teach members to be more normal. Here are just a handful of resources you can use to do exactly that.
Admittedly, there’s a lot to read. A 19-page NPC report. This long article that you’re reading right now. Tons of links and resources. 188 pages of The Green Book to top it off.
So, let’s try to simplify: 1) Remove barriers, 2) Cultivate connection with PNMs, 3) Actively promote sorority life, 4) Listen to the guidance of your advisors and professionals.
We’re here for you! Stay Phired Up!