Five Tips for Proactive PR in the Social Media Age

By Rob Pasquinucci

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.

 Best Practices for Developing a Social Media Policy

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.

The Goal of Public Relations – It’s About Trust

By Jack Supple – Partner, Pocket Hercules

In my career I have been privileged to work with some great brands that used advertising and public relations to create something deeper and more abiding. Brands like Harley-Davidson took the mantra “closer to the customer” and made it a real guiding part of everything they have done every single day for the past thirty years.

This week is PR Week for Phi Delta Theta chapters throughout the U.S and Canada.  Our new branding campaign  “Become the Greatest Version of Yourself” is rolling.

While we may focus on this one week of the year to turn up the volume on sharing our story, every day your chapter and its members are doing public relations. Showing up at a campus event, raising money for a cause you believe in, sharing the Phi Delta story with a student who doesn’t belong to a fraternity, participating in class, getting involved in campus activities, and being a good neighbor to those who live on your block are all part of building a solid, positive reputation.

It’s about trust.  When others come to trust you and your chapter to do the right thing, to stand up for what’s right, to be the voice, the arms and the legs for those who are unable, that’s the goal of PR.  It’s not “to spin your story.”  It’s to live and behave in an authentic manner and to engage in a dialogue with other individuals, groups and communities to builds understanding, breaks down barriers, and motivates all of us to live to our greatest potential.

Sharing our stories and communicating regularly and thoughtfully allows others to get to know your chapter and to understand what you believe in and anticipate how you will act.

If you want to make news, you need to show up.  The famous pop artist Andy Warhol once said, “80% of life is showing up.”  That means you need to get out of your chapter house and be involved.  Take part in your community.  Become engaged in making it a better place, for you and others.  Lead the discussion.  Invite others to share their voices.  Create relationships.

And when you’re out there, demonstrating how to become the greatest version of yourself, let others know.  Start with the core — those who care deeply about you and your success — your family and friends, your Phi Delt brothers and other Phi Delta Theta chapters.  And from there, spread the word to others that matter — your neighbors, other fraternities and sororities on campus, the local campus newspaper, student government, the local media in your town or city, Facebook friends.

That’s P.R. Week, 52 weeks in a row.

Prior to being named chairman and chief creative officer of Carmichael Lynch in 2000, Jack Supple held the positions of president, executive creative director and senior writer since joining the agency in 1979. During his 27 year tenure, CL emerged as one of the nation’s top creative agencies. No matter how large the brand, Jack helped CL to find the soul of that brand and to become a client’s trusted “keeper of the flame” with work that was smart and elegantly simple. Under Jack’s leadership, the agency grew and expanded its account list to include Harley-Davidson, Porsche, Northwest Airlines, Gibson Guitars, Rapala, A.G. Edwards, American Standard and Coca-Cola. As chief creative officer, Jack helped CL expand its long-standing creative reputation into award winning PR, interactive, relationship marketing and design disciplines. Jack left Carmichael Lynch in July 2006, finding the role of chairman of the 300-person agency to be too distant from the work. In January 2007, he began working with some former employees at Pocket Hercules, helping to create a pool of senior talent who could offer hands-on work to national accounts.

Six Tips for a Digital Phi

By David Almacy, Widener ‘92

As the saying goes, some of the greatest stories are those that are never told.  However, the growth of the Internet and social media makes it easier to avoid that.  Today, the evolving media landscape allows each of us to tell our own story, and we have more channels than ever to do so.

Our digital footprint is defined by how we are represented online – specifically by the content that’s published on websites, blogs, social media and organized based on relevancy via search engines.  The web not only provides your chapter with the ability to tell and archive your own stories, but it also allows for new avenues to directly connect people to Phi Delta Theta news in real time.

Here are six digital tips to ensure that your chapter is getting the most out of your online presence:

Content is King
Obviously, the first step is to ensure that someone in your chapter is designated with the responsibility of cataloging chapter events and activities online.  In the past, this has been the job of the secretary or historian, but these days, anyone with a mobile device can snap photos, tweet, post status updates or upload video on the fly.  However, appointing a member charged with aggregating content will assist in managing the coverage and ensure that anything published online is timely and relevant.

Own the Web
Whether it’s a blog or an official Phi Delt chapter website, owning an online outlet is essential.  This is a place where you control all the content and can provide unique first person perspective.  When writing for the web, be concise.  It only takes a few minutes to type up a couple paragraphs to describe an event.  Stick with the basics of what we all learned in Journalism 101 by answering who, what, when, where, why and how.  Then, seek out a couple supporting quotes from members or other participants and, when possible, include multimedia to add a little color.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Clicks
Visual content such as photos and video are always a plus.  They add context to the story and increase the chances that your posts will be seen.  A recent eMarketer study (11/8/11) showed that click through rates increase when photos and videos are included in Facebook posts.  Video assets could include event footage, participant interviews, photo slideshows, music and graphics.  Ideally, the final product should be short – no more than three to five minutes.  When posting, choose relevant titles that accurately describe the event along with specific keywords (Phi Delta Theta, chapter name, school, event, members) for your images, photo sets and video so that others can find them more easily when searching.  Also, embedding YouTube videos and Flickr albums into your blog or chapter website will help with analytics and provide an opportunity for other users to share and cross-promote.

Social Sharing
Be sure to leverage some of the social media sites and networks that are available to you.  When setting up accounts, consider reserving consistent usernames on behalf of the chapter and indicate publicly who is responsible for managing the properties and posting updates.  Of course, Facebook and Twitter are among the largest of these social communities, but there are many more to explore such as YouTube and Vimeo for video, Flickr and Instagram for photos, Path for personal networks, LinkedIn for career development and alumni networking, Foursquare for location-based event “check-ins” and the newest contender to the space, Google+.  Many of these tools are free and offer quick and easy upload and embed features which allow for optimal online sharing. Select a hashtag (such as #phidelt) for attendees and interested parties to use when tweeting which will assist in identifying and aggregating social media content.  Don’t be shy about cross-promoting across channels, everyone consumes information differently.

Community Engagement
Publishing content is just the first step.  By building an active and engaged online community, you will increase the chances that your content will be seen and shared.  Use the chapter’s social media accounts to follow and connect with your chapter brothers, Phi Delt alumni, other Greek organizations, fellow students, school administrators and faculty, community leaders and local media.  Remember, the web is a social medium, so it is important to listen to your community when they engage with you.  Respond to their posts in a timely manner and be sure to share their content in your channels from time to time, as well.  In general, try to publish regularly and offer a variety of posts such as short status updates, links to blog entries, photos, news items, school team sports scores, tweets, video, trivia, alumni notes, etc.  Lastly, don’t discount the value of email.  Although texting and mobile application use is on the rise, most people still rely heavily on email for communication.  Build a solid email list and actively manage it over time.  When sending, provide short updates in the body of the email with links back to the chapter’s website or social media property.  This will increase traffic, boost followers and further establish your channels as credible sources of information.

Build Content Partnerships
As an old friend used to say, you can catch more fish with several lines in the water.  The same is true when seeking to reach a wider online audience.  One blog post on a specific website can generate conversation among a small community but if published and linked via many sites, the impact will be far greater.  Seek online content partnerships with community organizations, media and campus groups.  Establish relationships with local blogs whether near campus, in neighboring cities or within your geographic region.  Also, there may be other Phi Delt chapters that can help spread the word.  So, be sure to follow our brothers via social media and feel free to re-post if you see something of interest.

So, let’s put this all together.  After covering an event by collecting photos and video footage, type up a short summary, upload the video to YouTube, embed it into a post on your website or blog, tweet out a headline with link, share it in Facebook and then email it to your list.  Track which platform gains the most traction then mix it up and adapt for future postings.

Indeed, the power of social media is changing how we all connect and communicate.  Taking advantage of these online tools will enhance your ability to share your Phi Delta Theta experience, celebrate chapter successes, promote member activities, engage with interested audiences and build online community.  And everyone plays a role.  After all, one tweet is no tweet!

David Almacy is a senior vice president on the digital public affairs team at Edelman public relations in Washington, DC.  Previously, he was the White House Internet Director for President George W. Bush where he managed online communications strategy and was the spokesman and lead contact for digital influentials.  After graduation from Widener University, where he was initiated into Phi Delta Theta as a member of the Pennsylvania Mu Chapter, Brother Almacy worked for the general headquarters as a chapter consultant.  He later served the fraternity as a province president and is the current chairman of the Survey Commission, Phi Delta Theta’s expansion committee.  He lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife, Julie, and two daughters. Follow David’s tweets (@almacy) and check out his blog CapitalGig where he writes about the intersection of technology and politics in our Nation’s Capital.

Strong Successful Actions: Public Relations

By Dan Miller, Allegheny College

My parents were concerned when I told them that I was pledging a fraternity, but I was not surprised. I’m from Ithaca, New York, a double college town, home of both Cornell and Ithaca College, and as such, it’s not uncommon to see stories in the paper about hazing incidents or parties gone wrong. My parents, along with many of us, are surrounded by countless negative stereotypes associated with Greek life.

I tried to explain that Phi Delt is different, but I only got so far. They were never truly on board until they saw how I grew through the pledge process and noticed my drive to improve the organization while settling into the campus community- something I struggled with the previous semester.

Since I was elected public relations chair, I began to examine these issues. I realized that public relations is easy to understand. Simply put, it is the way every brother acts at every minute, and the way we are seen around campus. As such, we must challenge the preconceived images around us, and we must do it the right way.

The best way to convey the message of our Fraternity is to show before you tell. In the case of my parents, they didn’t believe Phi Delt would be a valuable experience until they saw the results.

I projected this idea onto a whole campus, and saw it still holds true. For example, hanging up a poster that says, “Become the greatest version of yourself” does not mean a thing if the chapter does not actively encourage GPA improvement or is not involved on campus. Instead of explaining to a rushee that pledging does not hurt grades, show him the scholarship report from the previous semester. They say actions are stronger then words, but successful actions are the strongest of all.

Dan Miller is a sophomore at Allegheny College. He is an economics major, biology minor and is very involved on campus, balancing both varsity swimming and work in the admissions office as a campus tour guide. He accepted his Phi Delt bid as a second semester freshmen and was elected to the executive board in the in the fall of 2011. His post-college career is currently undecided, but he is interested in attending graduate school for business, public relations or student services.

Being Your Reputation’s Keeper

By Rich Fabritius

When I was asked to blog about PR for this month’s post my immediate thoughts went to exploring an experience from my professional life.  As an advertising guy I work alongside our PR professionals all the time, as well as practitioners from other agencies.  It’s fun to work with them in building a client’s business – building their reputation.

While there are certainly lessons and observations I can draw upon to inform this post, in the end I find them a little weightless in the context of being a Phi.

Instead, I got to thinking about reputations within our Fraternity and the fraternity world.  We are very lucky to be Phi Delts.  We’ve got one of the best – if not the best – reputation in the fraternity world today.  Other fraternities envy our organization for a variety of reasons.  Our educational programming is among the best out there; providing our undergrads and alumni volunteers with tremendous opportunities for growth and development.  Our undergraduates are among the best men walking the hills of college campuses across  North America.  Our alumni are engaged and give tremendous amounts of time, talent and treasure to Phi Delt.  And most importantly, we are always willing to make hard decisions for the betterment of the organization in order to honor and perpetuate the objectives of The Immortal Six.  Other groups envy us because we make hard decisions.

I personally find strength in the notion that I am a member of an organization who is willing to do the right thing. Which leads me to reputation management.  We owe each other, and ourselves, the effort to be the best we can be.  To manage our reputations individually and as an organization.

Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror?  Do you feel like you’re living up to the challenges of The Bond?

I’d argue that the best reputation management that can be done is making sure you can look yourself in the eye.  Being a Phi means being better than common and challenging ourselves and our brothers to be better than ordinary.

The great thing about Phi Delt is the expectations are clear and easy to understand.  And we know when we’ve lived up to the challenge and when we’ve fallen short.  Falling short is OK. Falling short means you recognize the need for improvement and perhaps some help from your brothers in the process.  That’s what they’re there for!

I was given a book call The Edge when I went off to Kent State.  It was a compilation of inspirational quotes and stories.  The book’s author was a Cleveland area high school wrestling coach.  With the exception of my badge, it was my most prized possession in college.  (Many an eye rolled when I quoted The Edge at a chapter meeting.)  During my last chapter meeting before graduating I bequeathed The Edge to one of my favorite brothers.  I miss that book.  But I learned years later that Collin Boetger still has it in his home –  years since I gave it to him that spring night in 1994.

My favorite passage from The Edge is a poem entitles The Man In The Glass.

I’ll end this post with it.  I hope you challenge yourself to manage your reputation by challenging yourself to be the best you can be.  To live a satisfied life. Knowing that you are accepting the challenge of our Founders to be more than ordinary, more than average.  In the end, the only one who will know if you’ve truly succeeded is you!

The Man In The Glass

By David Winbrow

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts most in you life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And think you’re a wonderful guy.
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

He’s the fellow to please-never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end.
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Brother Fabritius is the General Council Reporter. His other volunteer service to Phi Delt has included Education Commissioner and Province President. Rich lives in Atlanta with his wife, Heather, and their daughters, Austin and Reese. A past consultant and Director of Chapter Services for the General Headquarters Staff, he is a graduate of Kent State University and a member of the Ohio Lambda Chapter. Rich is Vice President, Managing Director of Brunner, an advertising and marketing agency. His hobbies include travel, golf, and boating.

Break Out Of Your Cage

By Jacob Ternes – Senior Leadership Consultant

The other day I saw a Harley Davidson commercial that showed people going about their everyday lives as normal except for one major change – they were all enclosed in individual cages. Along comes a man riding on a Harley Davidson motorcycle and he is the only one not stuck in a cage. I found the commercial entertaining and it made me think.  Now, I’m not quite ready to go out and buy a motorcycle, but the commercial did speak to me in another way.

What struck me about this commercial was the part about being stuck in a cage. I feel that this isn’t far from the truth and that people become more and more like this every day. Even when we are out in public, we retreat inside our own little cages. It seems that most of us would rather stand quietly than reach out and be friendly to those around us. People get so caught up checking email on their Smartphone (or playing Angry Birds), reading the news, or listening to their iPods, that they don’t interact with those around them. The crazy thing about this is that no one puts us into these cages except for ourselves. We choose to be in these cages instead of reaching out and striking up a conversation with those around us.

One of the primary purposes of a fraternity is to cultivate social development and make friends. I truly think that as members of Phi Delta Theta we have the duty to break out of our cage and interact with those around us. I’m not saying that it will be easy, but if we focus on being a little more social every day we can gradually break out of our cages. Here are three simple ways that can make you more social every day.

1.    Have a conversation with the individual who serves you coffee. Many of us enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning and there is usually a very pleasant person that serves that coffee to you and he/she is contractually obligated to be nice. Striking up a conversation with this person should be fairly simple. Tomorrow, go beyond the “I’ll have a small coffee” and ask him/her about their day. Simple enough right? Now, the kicker…listen to his/her response and respond appropriately. You could have a nice 2-3 minute conversation while your coffee is being prepared.

2.     Say hello to the person next to you at the crosswalk. I don’t know about you, but I like to walk to places whenever possible. During these walks, I often stop at an intersection waiting for the light to change. Equally as often, there is someone stopped there with me. Usually this time is spent gazing at the clouds, checking my watch or urgently looking at something on my cell phone. But, what if we took that time to greet the person next to us? Say hello, ask them how their day is going or even resort to everyone’s favorite small talk topic…the weather. These conversations only have to be awkward if you make them so. Be pleasant but brief and go about the rest of your day.

3.     Sit next to a stranger at the library/student union/cafeteria (or anywhere else for that matter.) It seems that people spend all of their time circling these locations looking for an unoccupied table rather than sitting down next to someone they don’t know. Take a chance, ask them if it’s alright to sit next to them and pull up a chair. Once you’re seated, introduce yourself and ask some sort of conversation starting question.

So, now you are ready to go.  Take the first step and start breaking down that cage. For those of you who think this just isn’t feasible to do, I’m going to practice what I preach. I have challenged myself to “walk the talk” and for the next 30 days I am committing myself to have a conversation with a total stranger every day. You can read about it and follow my progress on Facebook here. I plan to post daily updates about my personal challenge. I invite you to push yourself to try something similar. So go ahead, break out of your cage, be a Harley.

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Gettin’ in Good with GHQ

Jacob-Kingdon“Mr. Kingdon, what can we do to get on ‘headquarters’ good side?”

This is a question that I have heard many times; sometimes on a phone call with a chapter president as they are being removed from probation, sometimes while facilitating at one of Phi Delta Theta’s many educational conferences, and even sometimes during dinner with a chapter adviser. The question always makes me laugh, because there is no simple answer to this question and GHQ certainly doesn’t have the equivalent of Santa’s list with the good chapters on one side and the bad chapters on the other.  In reality, the answer to this question is not a difficult one: think before you act, use common sense, and live up to the teachings of The Bond. While I could sit here all day and recount all of the things that chapters have done over the years to get on GHQ’s bad side, that is not quite the point of this blog. What I would like to do instead is leave you with a list of helpful tips to “get on ‘headquarters’ good side.”

1. Pay your bills. Being financially delinquent is probably the easiest way to get on the bad list. Pay your bills and pay them on time and you will stay out from under the microscope.

2. Communicate. Answer the phone if you can, return voicemails if you can’t. Do your best to return emails within 24 hours. If something goes wrong, tell us. If something goes right, tell us. We want to know how you are doing so that we can help you get better.

3. Tell the truth. Lying won’t get you anywhere and is a great way to destroy your chapter’s credibility. If something goes wrong, don’t be afraid to call.

4. Ask for help. If you don’t know what to do… ask! I would rather spend 10 minutes on the phone explaining how to do something, than spend 30 minutes fixing a mistake. After all, my job is to help you.

5. Share your accomplishments. If your chapter does something great, make sure everyone knows about it. Send an article and pictures to GHQ, the local newspaper, news stations, post it online, etc.

6. Represent Phi Delta Theta with pride and integrity. Be friendly and respectful to everyone you meet, be a leader inside and outside the classroom, and let your morals guide you. You never know who is watching.

7. Turn in your reports. GHQ does not require Red Letter Days reports just because. Most of these reports ensure that the General Fraternity can continue to operate smoothly and keep accurate records for generations to come. The GHQ Trophy is the easiest award to win, and yet so few actually win it.

8. Have fun, but be safe. Remember that you are in a social fraternity, so be social! We want you to have a good time, but do it safely. Remember to fill out Event Planning Forms for your events, look over the Risk Management Policies every semester, pay your insurance bill, and most importantly; use your head.

9. Get involved. While in school get involved on campus or in the Greek Community, or become a Peer Mentor. Once you graduate, become a Chapter Adviser, a Leadership Consultant, or a Facilitator at a Conference.

10. Apply for awards. As chapter members you put in a lot of hard work; you might as well be recognized for it. Apply for University and GHQ awards. Winning awards is a great way to build a positive reputation within Phi Delta Theta and within your community.

Jacob Kingdon received a degree in psychology from Lawrence University before joining the General Headquarters staff in the summer of 2007. At Wisconsin Beta, Jacob served as President, Recruitment Chairman, and Brotherhood Chairman. Jacob also served as Vice President of Operations for the Interfraternity Council, President of the Greek Leadership Council, and was a member of the Lawrence University Judicial Board. Jacob currently serves as Director of Chapter Service for Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters and Treasurer of the Oxford Alumni Club. In his spare time he enjoys playing racquetball, golf, and poker.

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