Stories from the Road: LDC Kathleen

This post is courtesy of New York Eta Kathleen Meriano, Leadership Development Consultant.

Kathleen

As my three carry-ons, pillow pet and I shimmied into our seat in 16A I had every intention of blissfully capitalizing on two hours of uninterrupted slumber. At least that was the plan, until I felt a nudge from the elderly gentleman beside me shortly after takeoff. Between his perfectly placed bowtie and twinkling blue eyes I couldn’t help but to relinquish my headphones and appease his desire for small talk. As I began to explain my new life in South Carolina he drew a smile, gazed for a moment as if the memories warmed him and replied, “My wife was a Pi Phi.” In his slow, raspy voice I learned of their fifty-three year matrimony, her affinity for reading and endless anecdotes of books and life. It thus comes at no surprise, his departing words of advice encouraged me to view the upcoming year as a new chapter. “I’m sure it’ll all be wonderful, and if not, every day you turn the page to a new tomorrow.” Although I’m generally not one for metaphors, I can’t help but to feel as though the unwritten pages of South Carolina Alpha are collectively being forged again by the Fraternity and its New Members.

Following an extensive application and presentation process, Pi Beta Phi was selected to colonize at the University of South Carolina. An honor in and of itself, the announcement brought with it a nearly unimaginable reality for hundreds of dedicated South Carolina Alphas. The chapter, after a nearly thirty years absence, would be returning to campus.

Our colonization efforts began with observations of the University’s formal recruitment process in August, followed by extensive marketing in September. Interested women were given the opportunity to meet individually with a Leadership Development Consultant on campus prior to registering with Pi Beta Phi. On the first night of our colonizing weekend, women were invited to learn more about our literacy initiatives through small group conversation. We found the Potential New Members’ questions to be insightful, indicating a genuine eagerness for philanthropic involvement. The following night, during our preference ceremony, sisters from the University of Georgia provided a collegiate perspective to the women in our recruitment process. With their assistance, we were confidently able to extend 240 bids to membership. I don’t know that there are words to describe the overwhelming sensation of happiness that filled the ballroom on Bid Day. In a room of genuine smiles and long-awaited introductions, the most memorable came from that of South Carolina Alpha and former Grand President Sis Mullis herself. In 1985, following the reinstallation of the Florida Delta Chapter, she wrote to South Carolina Alpha, “I have no doubt that in the future you and I will gather for that same purpose.” Clearly, Sis is never a woman to be doubted. Nearly thirty years later, as the room fell silent, Sis took the microphone and allowed us to all humbly bare witness as she formally welcomed home her newest South Carolina Alpha sisters.

As we turn the page on South Carolina Alpha’s new tomorrow, we do so with the comforting realization that its pages are soon to be filled by members bursting with ambition, compassion and eloquence. They have shown a values system in line with Pi Beta Phi’s and an understanding that true, lasting friendships aren’t built on exclusivity, but rather on the acceptance and celebration of diversity. The Resident Leadership Development Consultants are confident in the women’s abilities to create a lasting impact at the University of South Carolina and above all, honored to guide them along their paths of membership.

Stories from the Road: LDC Alexis

This post is courtesy of Indiana Delta Alexis Karwoski, Leadership Development Consultant.

Alexis q&a

This year, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a Resident Leadership Development Consultant rebuilding the Washington Beta Chapter at Washington State University. Now, more than ever, I truly understand how important positive Public Relations (PR) can be in contributing to the success or failure of a chapter. The preconceived notions people have, as well as the image and reputation of your chapter, are a direct result of the messages you are sending and how or where you advertise the message. Positive PR can successfully promote you as an individual, chapter and international organization on campus and in the Greek community.

Regardless of whether you identify with the average chapter member, leader, or member of a colonization team, everyone can benefit from positive PR. Based on my experiences as an undergraduate in my own chapter and as an RLDC this year, I’ve found that when it comes to PR, there are some important tips to remember in order to be successful in your efforts.

Identify your audience: It’s important to know who you are trying to reach with your publicity —Potential New Members, members of the Greek community, students on campus, alumnae, community members, etc. Once you identify your audience, you will be able to target them in the right places and with appropriate jargon in your PR materials.

Utilize correct terminology: Using correct terminology builds the credibility of your chapter and you as an individual. Instead of using outdated terminology such as Rush, Pledges, Houses, Girls, and Boys, make sure that you are using correct, more appropriate, vocabulary: Recruitment, New Members, Chapters, Women and Men. In the past several weeks, I have seen countless celebratory social media posts for Bid Day, and unfortunately, many of these have included most of those outdated terms. The worst, in my opinion, is when New Members are referred to as “babies.” The reference to your New Members as babies is not only demeaning, but it essentially gives those women the right to act like children. The women joining your chapter will be your friends, your potential leaders and your sisters, so it is important to recognize them as such.

Foster Relationships: Positive PR for your chapter does not solely come from individually promoting your chapter; it’s also about cultivating strong, positive relationships with your peers, your fellow Greeks and your university faculty and staff. Attend campus and philanthropy events, have trade dinners or sisterhood events with chapters on your campus and participate in service projects. By actively engaging with your community, you will increase the likelihood of support from others and inevitably enhance your chapter’s image.

Remember Traditional PR: Social media posts aren’t always the most effective way of successfully promoting your chapter or reaching out to community members. Other outlets that often are underutilized include your student newspaper, flyers, broadcast messages, hand-written cards and of course, human interaction.

Most importantly, remember … you are always wearing your letters.

When you join your fraternity or sorority, you are joining an organization much larger than yourself. Your individual actions — the good, the bad, the great and the ugly — are all a direct reflection on your chapter and on your international organization. Next time you are trying to decide what shirts your chapter wants to order, what you want to post on your individual social media accounts and how you want to present yourself on a day-to-day basis, remember your decisions will positively or negatively impact your chapter and your fraternity.

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