Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Greek Life Public Relations

Vince Profeta
As a freshman I had the opportunity to join a Greek organization. I saw the potential opportunities that would arise from this decision, as there are a number of leadership positions, philanthropic opportunities, networking opportunities, and the list goes on and on.

My first quarter as an active member in ACACIA fraternity I became good friends with Dan Andrews, who at the time was the VP of Public Relations for the men’s Greek life governing body, the Inter-fraternity Council (IFC). By the end of my freshman year I had built up a relationship with other members on IFC and the following year I was asked by Dan to run for his position, as his term was ending. I saw an opportunity to make a difference and I took it.

I ended up earning the position and took over as the new public relations chair for men’s Greek life. Who would have known that Greek life would have hit the fan that quarter. Two weeks into the position Ohio Universities DELTA TAU DELTA chapter was charged for severely hazing their pledges.

Word about the situation spread like wildfire and rumors began popping up on every corner of campus, the news made its way all the way up to the Columbus Dispatch. We had to make a statement, however, we did not know what to say. We couldn’t deny it, but how much truth should we give them.

According to David Martison’s article “truthfulness in communication is both a reasonable and achievable goal for public relations practitioners” there is a difference between truth and truthfulness, and that is it is possible to tell the truth but not the whole truth, you could withhold information that you, for some reason, do not want to share with the public. According to the article a standard should be put in place. This standard, although, does not require you to tell everything it does require you to be truthful.

So what was I supposed to do? Although we did not have any say in what happened to the DELT chapter, we did have to go on with recruitment. So here is me, barely a novice at my position and everyone is looking at me for answers.

What had been done was done and we couldn’t cover up the facts because everyone already knew. According to Martison’s article I was not to try and make the worst better. At first I tried to do just that with a press release statement on our website, which was extremely vague and expressed the barest of truths. As you could imagine the press release didn’t work…

Knowing little about PR at the time I decided that we had to push and inform the public of all of the positive things that Greek life had to offer, all of the things that made me want to join a Greek organization. Through a flier and poster campaign we displayed brotherhood, loyalty, philanthropy, leadership, and Scholarship. Although nothing changes over night and people still bring up that situation, many people soon forgot about the DELT incident and began realizing what Greek life can offer.

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