On Feb. 6th, representatives from a number of fraternities and sororities came to learn about how to maintain their images in the media, crisis communication tips, and the benefits of social media usage.
Harold ‘Pete’ Goldsmith, Dean of Students, praised the Greek community, stating that the attendees were members of respected student organizations that should maintain such a reputation. Fraternities and sororities, Goldsmith said, are the ideal size and ideal learning environment than can promote student success. When you’re Greek, you need to strive to be the best you can be.
Mark Land, the head of Media Relations, gave tips about proper social media usage. In his opinion, it would be very beneficial for each chapter to have a specified “media person,” one who would know how to properly deal with any type of media situation, good or bad. One thing the chapters should keep in mind: national chapters, fellow students, and even other houses on campus will hear about the other houses, whether they have a positive or negative message.
Another important tip Land gave: you must know your audience. The better you know your audience, the more effective your message will be. One helpful tip is to look at it from their perspective; if you were in their shoes, what specific information would you want to have?
From a social media perspective, Land said, you need to look for 2-3 key aspects that would best get your message out, whatever that may be. Utilize what social media tools you have, especially Facebook and Twitter.
If you want media coverage, make it easy for the media to do your story. Make sure the media has accurate contact information for your houses. In addition, give them proper notice; if your event is happening on a Saturday, don’t call them the day before. You could also promote the event yourself, such as using a “save the date” tweet.
In order to have a strong social media standing, build a campaign. Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets to your advantage. Consider yourself a professional communicator. Land makes the important point: “even when you leave, your chapters will still be here. Set an example. The way you conduct yourself speaks to what your house stands for.”
The final guest speaker was Professor Dennis Elliott, a PR professor within the School of Journalism. Elliott spoke of two types of management: reputation and crisis.
A reputation for each house on campus already exists. What you can do now, Elliott said, is either fix them or continue on with the same reputation. With reputation management, you can either be on the offense or the defense. With the defense stand, PR is made for you. This option may not be as beneficial as being on the offense.
Elliott said houses could make an exercise of it: how would members of the house react in a time of crisis? “Always look at yourselves first before someone is looking at you,” Elliott said.
In times of crisis, the chapters must demonstrate social responsibility. You must be available and able to communicate the right information. This relates back to Land’s push to have a media specialist for each house.
One of the most important aspects of crisis management, Elliott said, is internal communication. Your first audience is other members of your house; each member should know the behaviors expected of them. “Decide what you want to be known for,” he said.
By: Tori Lawhorn