To borrow a cliché, it is the best of times and the worst of times to be in the business of helping maintain the image of a college men’s fraternity. On one hand, our good work can be spread via social networks more quickly and more broadly than ever before. Yet, a misguided brother’s social media post can also be spread far and wide via social networks, immediately obliterating the good work your chapter has done.
When you look across your chapter room during your next meeting, consider each brother there a “PR chairman.” Every action he takes on campus and online can reflect positively or negatively on your group. Here are some tips to share to help make your members aware of this new reality, and some tried-and-true ways to shore up traditional chapter PR efforts.
Develop a social media policy. While we want to encourage brothers to share the good things happening in our organization on social networks, many members need a solid understanding of the reach and potential damage caused by their online activity, and a concise social media policy can help guide them on the appropriate times and places to post Fraternity-related material. Many corporations have developed policies for their employees’ online behavior. We can borrow ideas from corporate best practices when putting together our guidelines.
Have an ‘elevator pitch.’ Instead of teaching your Phikeia arcane details about individual brothers’ personal lives, why not have them remember a simple, one-minute summary of what Phi Delta Theta at your campus is all about? We need to arm our youngest members with an answer when we are accused of being a drinking club, buying our friends, etc.
Practice traditional PR. While social media is an increasingly easy way to spread the word about the good things we do, there still is a need to practice traditional public relations to promote the bigger events we do. A great first step in this is to make friends with your university’s PR person. He or she can help educate you on what is newsworthy, and should be able to put you in touch with the media contacts for your local newspapers and television stations. It’s a good best practice to send a press release to the hometown newspaper of every Phikeia when he joins.
Cultivate positive relationships with fellow Greeks, parents, GHQ and university faculty/staff. You very likely have sororities and fraternities on your campus. Good PR starts with developing good relations with them. Here are some recommendations:
- Do you send sororities a card and flowers on their founders’ days?
- Do you have a parents’ weekend? A mom’s club? Do you send a letter to every Phikeia’s parents and include your president and Phikeia educator’s contact information?
- Do you have faculty receptions (a great opportunity to co-host with a sorority.)
- Do you regularly meet with the Greek official?
- Do you have regular meetings with Province President and stay in touch with your Leadership Consultant?
Use social media to reconnect with alumni. Social media is a great way to get alumni reconnected with each other and the chapter. Alumni are generally most interested in connecting with each other, so why not recruit alumni to serve as social media “captains” to connect with brothers from their ‘era’ and rally them to come to the next event? It’s an easy and fun way to get alumni talking to each other and thinking about their undergraduate years. Find archive photos around the house and post to Facebook and ask alumni to identify who is in the photo and what was going on.
I hope these tips help – and remember, as Mark Twain once said, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes!
Current Scroll editor and Former Zeta Province President Rob Pasquinucci, Ashland, ’93, is the content manager for Luxottica. Never heard of Luxottica? You probably know the Mason, Ohio-based eyewear industry leader better through its retail brands – LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, Oakley and many more. Rob uses his PR background to help Luxottica develop meaningful content across many internal and external channels.
In addition to his work at Luxottica, Rob is an adjunct professor of public relations at Northern Kentucky University, right across the river from Cincinnati. He’s led public relations and content creation for clients of the region’s largest integrated marketing agencies and for two non-profits. He spent three years as director of communications at GHQ, and his career began as a newspaper reporter at the News Journal in Mansfield, Ohio. He holds a master’s in communications from NKU, and is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). He has presented at the 2011 Content Marketing World conference, the Fraternity Communicators Association, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and PRSA.