This post is courtesy of Indiana Delta Alexis Karwoski, Leadership Development Consultant.
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 Instead of using outdated terminology such as Rush, Pledges, Houses, Girls, and Boys, make sure that you are using correct, more appropriate, vocabulary: Recruitment, New Members,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seen countless celebratory social media posts for Bid Day, and unfortunately, many of these have included most of those outdated terms.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.
Hosting a Fraternity Day of Service Signature Event is no small task. Fortunately, we have several wonderful volunteers who pledged their time and hard work to make the 2015 events spectacular. We are pleased to introduce the co-chairs from our host cities who are leading their teams to put on the best events possible.
Name: Barbara Lynn Beauchamp Bickley
Hometown: Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Chapter: Tennessee Delta, University of Memphis
Alumnae Club: Alpharetta Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: Sheryl Crow’s sister sang at my wedding.
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve® Memory: Reading to children.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? Getting other sisters out to experience the sisterhood and community service.
Name: Diane C. White
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia, but raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Chapter: Georgia Alpha, University of Georgia (also attended Emory University)
Alumnae Club: Atlanta Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: I love to laugh; funny people are the best.
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve Memory: Last year we gave more than 100 books to a family receiving a Habitat for Humanity home. Several Pi Phis helped build their home, and when their three children saw the books and bookshelf, they were so excited. It was heartwarming to know they would be reading and enjoying the books.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? So many children will be exposed to books, and hopefully they will love to read the rest of their lives and open a new world for them. It’s about changing people’s lives for the better. Also, the opportunity to meet, work and play with the Pi Phis who will help with this fabulous project. It will be work, but it won’t feel like it.
To learn more about the Signature Event in Atlanta or to find out how you can help, contact Ashlee Dozier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Felicia Campbell
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
Chapter: Iowa Eta, Drake University
Alumnae Club: Des Moines Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: I love to travel and have spent a week in Russia.
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve Memory: Seeing the smiles on the faces of the elementary school kids as we handed out books. For many of the kids this was the first book of their own.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? Getting books to children in need. Reading is a skill that will change a life.
Name: Susie Wilson
Hometown: Antioch, California
Chapter: California Epsilon, San Diego State University
Alumnae Club: Des Moines Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: During my time as a collegian, I was “Flamin’ Mamie.” Since my time at San Diego State University I have not heard of any other chapter with a Flamin! When we would be in public places, and all my Sisters would sing, Flamin Mamie, I would have to dance. I danced at our dances. I danced at graduation. I danced in restaurants. I danced at weddings. I even danced at my own wedding!
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve Memory: As we gave books to residents of the Youth Emergency Shelter, in Des Moines, the look of comfort, ownership, belonging and thanks I saw in children’s eyes as they took their own book back to their warm beds.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? I am most excited to meet other Pi Phis from all over the country who share a passion for putting books in kids hands.
To learn more about the Signature Event in Des Moines or to find out how you can help, contact Felicia Campbell at email@example.com.
Name: Joan Anderson
Hometown: Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Chapter: Oklahoma Alpha, University of Oklahoma
Alumnae Club: Oklahoma City Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: I am a double Pi Phi legacy. My mom, Debbie Dixon Hess and sister, Lauren Hess are both OK Alphas. I love having Pi Phi in the family!
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve Memory: The Oklahoma City Alumnae Club has worked with the Boys and Girls Club since 2007 for our literacy project. I love to see the kiddos’ faces when we arrive and even more so, see them each receive a book of their very own at the end of the day.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? Everything! The planning, meeting new Pi Phi volunteers and giving back to our community!
Name: Cristi L. Bullard
Hometown: Owasso, Oklahoma
Chapter: Oklahoma Alpha, University of Oklahoma – Boomer Sooner!
Alumnae Club: Oklahoma City Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: I am the oldest of four. I am extremely close with my siblings and am lucky to have such a close, loving, smart, hysterical and sarcastic family. My sister, Angela Bullard Skinner, also an Oklahoma Alpha, just had her first baby. I am thrilled to have a beautiful new niece and goddaughter that will someday carry on our Pi Phi legacy!
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve memory: Our alumnae club works with The Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma City every year to put on a program about Dr. Seuss®, read with kids, provide a meal, give away prizes and most importantly, donate books. It is such a pleasure to see these sweet, local kids so excited each and every year to pick out books they get to keep. Helping build a child’s library is a privilege and I am so delighted we get to do each year.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? Donating thousands of books to our incredible community!
To learn more about the Signature Event in Oklahoma City or to find out how you can help, contact Joan Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Heather Wilson Miller
Hometown: Carlsbad, New Mexico
Chapter: New Mexico Beta, New Mexico State University
Alumnae Club: Phoenix Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: Both of my children (sons, ages seven and 10) play competitive chess. My 10-year-old is currently nationally ranked for his age group. I spend many hours driving them to chess lessons, sitting all day at chess tournaments and traveling nation-wide to attend those tournaments. I never in a million years would have thought I would be a chess mom but I love every minute of it! Even though I am still a terrible chess player …
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve Memory: My favorite Read > Lead > Achieve memory occurred during the Champions are Readers® (CAR) program the Phoenix Alumnae Club completed last February. I volunteered to attend four different times, once a week, each time in the same classroom. The second time I arrived, I walked into the room and a couple of little voices rang out with “Ms. Heather!” It melted my heart that they were so excited to have me back and couldn’t wait to read with me. I loved working with this same group of children each time I volunteered.
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? The sheer size of the event is just thrilling! 20,000 books! I can’t wait to organize an event that will make a difference in such a large amount of lives!
Name: Kim O’Brien
Hometown: Born in Bay Village, Ohio. Currently reside in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Chapter: Ohio Zeta, Miami University
Alumnae Club: Phoenix Alumnae Club
Fun Fact: I learned to water ski in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia.
Favorite Read > Lead > Achieve Memory: Last year we gave each second grader at least five new books throughout our CAR program. Every time Pi Phi volunteers walked into the classrooms, the children cheered and held their arms, muscle flexed and shouted “Readers are champions!”
What are you most excited about for Fraternity Day of Service 2015? I’m very passionate about literacy. As a teacher, I learned the importance reading plays in an individual’s life, and I feel so blessed to be a part of an organization that gives me the opportunity to demonstrate this passion through contributions to The Literacy Fund at Pi Beta Phi Foundation. I hope my life models the love of lifelong learning and the opportunity we have to affect thousands of children with the distribution of these books just astounds me!
To learn more about the Signature Event in Phoenix or to find out how you can help, contact Kim O’Brien at email@example.com.