PRSSA Recruitment 101: Building Your Brand on Campus

One of the most popular questions I’ve been asked recently is how to recruit members. While every Chapter is unique and has different needs to meet, here are some basic tips that can help you get started.

1. Identify your target audience. Are you looking to recruit freshmen? Seniors? People of other majors? Decide what type of members you’re looking to recruit. This is a key factor when planning your Chapter’s recruitment tactics.

2. Set up a consistent meeting time and place for ALL meetings. This will help new and returning members find you even if they can’t make the first meeting. If the time and day remain consistent, people can also plan their schedules around PRSSA.

3. Plan to have a new member meeting each semester. This will be a great way to inform new members of PRSSA benefits without boring your returning members. Plan it for at least a half-hour before the regular meeting and discuss National Conference, scholarships, internship opportunities, professional development, committees they can get involved with, Chapter happenings and dues. Serve food or light refreshments, if possible, and invite them to stay for the first meeting (plan an interactive meeting like a workshop to encourage participation).

4. Set up a mentorship program. While this isn’t a program that can blossom overnight, it is a great starting point for providing value to your members. Often members are encouraged to stay actively involved when they connect with the people in the organization. By matching new members with existing members who have the same interests (both inside and outside of PRSSA), you’ll help establish a connection and they’ll be more likely to return. They’ll also have someone to turn to with questions.

5. Create new member packets. Get folders and fill them with important information about PRSSA: Chapter history, meeting dates, contact info for the executive board, a welcome letter from the president and Advisers, info about the student firm, etc. Have your executive board members write handwritten notes for a more personal touch. Hand these out at your new member meeting. It will prove to be a great resource.

6. Attend student organization fairs. Get a table and hand out prizes and promotional items.

7. Contact your bookstore and see if they’ll allow you to put bookmarks with PRSSA meeting dates and information in the communication books. (Ask your Adviser or dean for help with whom to contact.)

8. Start early with transfer students and freshmen at orientation. Often times admissions will have organization fairs. Latch on to the “get involved” mentality and promote PRSSA before the school year even begins!

9. Organize “Class Chats.” Get a list of all the public relations/journalism/communication classes and contact the professors to ask for a few minutes of class time to talk about PRSSA. Divide the classes among the executive board. Have a script of what to discuss (for some ideas, e-mail me), give your contact info and leave time for brief Q&A.

10. Hang fliers or posters. Dorms. Classrooms. Academic buildings. The gym. The cafeteria. Be sure to cover all the places students spend a lot of time.

11. Take advantage of e-mail announcements. Most schools have an e-mail announcement system where you can submit your organization’s news. Take advantage of it and announce the first PRSSA meeting and where to get more information.

For more recruitment ideas, be sure to check out Penn State’s Chapter Development Session at the 2010 National Conference.

What are some ways your Chapter recruits members?

This is a guest post from Vice President of Chapter Development Kim Ciesla.

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