How having a puppy makes outreach that much easier 🙂
*Meet our mascot/model for ARW 2018-Chiko! Yass girl, flex those muscles~
On Monday, November 13th 2017, Spirit Week for Alternative Reading Week with the Centre for Community Partnerships kicked off not with a bang, but with twenty pounds of cuteness that is our six-month-old pup, Chiko (to appreciate how adorable she is, please see the various photo shoots I took of her below).
As a Spirit Week tradition, we’re giving out hot chocolate outside of Sidney Smith Hall all morning and the response was fantastic, people kept coming up to us and it didn’t take long for all our hot chocolate to ran out. However, I noticed people still kept coming over, long after all the hot chocolate was gone. At first I thought: Wow, we must be very attractive people. I still do.
I soon realized it probably was more because of the puppy that Yin brought with her. Almost every person who passed by our booth asked to pet her. Chiko was the star of our outreach campaign!
This inspired me to dig a bit deeper into outreach strategies and hopefully, some of my findings will help you and your club/group to do more effective and less awkward outreach around campus! Because trust me, it can get super awkward……..
But first, I want to tell you there’s an another incentive for you to read further along; as promised, plenty of photos of Chiko!
Rule 1: Bring a puppy with you. Or any cute pet that you know will get you that attention you need. Nothing works better than that pet charm which seems to woo everyone over including myself who usually doesn’t get overly excited about pets. Maybe steer clear of bringing a tarantula that’s for sure~
*Hey surprise, I brought my dog with me, isn’t she cute? “So, about our event…..”
Rule 2: Know your audience, find them, and commit. One of the biggest challenges, in my opinion, is finding the right audience to pitch your event to. Who looks like they would be interested in ARW? Well, I think everyone should be interested because it’s an amazing opportunity and there are so many different projects to choose from, there is bound to be at least one that fits your interest. So, anyone will do I guess? My fellow PL, Tharini and I decided to do some outreaching at Sid Cafe since that’s an area that’s usually packed with students. Should be easy! Little did we know how hard it was going to be. We decided to not bother people who had earphones on or was frantically typing on their laptops probably trying to catch a deadline. That ruled out a few persons, the rest was either eating, having a conversation with friends or on their phones. As we tried to approach people, we were unsure how to even start. As I desperately searched for pitch openings in my head I wondered how sales people do it so naturally?
*Scouting, scouting, oooooh, I see a possible target over there! Leggo!
Rule 3: Have your pitch ready and hot to go! Some general pitch advice that might be useful are:
- If you’re under a time limit like we were, you want to make your pitch as short as possible. So be concise, describe your event/club in under five sentences.
- Be sincere, talk about a personal experience and don’t speak in a monotone way which we tend to default towards when nervous.
- Treat everyone the same, i.e. talk in a consistent manner (same level of enthusiasm) regardless of someone who seems interested and someone who is not, especially if in a tightly packed space where people sitting beside the person you are pitching your event to can overhear you. Maybe someone else who unintentionally eavesdropped will be interested instead, you never know!
- Remember to always say ‘thank you/have a nice day’ after your pitch and don’t forget to leave them a flyer if you have enough lying around. First impressions are important but second impressions make a difference.
Rule 4: Free food? Where? Did you say free? I’ll be there: A common reaction almost amongst all students, especially on a chilly Monday morning. The word “free” just has a special feeling that no other words does, right, because it means free stuff! Who doesn’t appreciate free hot chocolate, pancakes, clementines, etc? Well, this is basically an unspoken rule in outreach, especially in university. Don’t they have a saying that goes like this: Where there is ‘free food’, there is a way. Yeah, something like that. Free stuff, works every time!
Rule 5: Last but not least, always put on a smile. People like people who are friendly, this should be universally agreed upon, if not, it should be now, stat.
*Here ya goooo, grab a flyer from me, I know you can’t resist my charm, wink wink*
We’ve already got 100 students signed up for Alternative Reading Week just three days into Spirit Week! I bet this puppy played a big part in luring you to our booth and plus after talking to the amazing outreach team that we have, you couldn’t wait to sign up, could you?
The ARW team has been doing outreach around campus this week, hope you all had a chance to have some free hot chocolate or pancakes at our events and learned more about what you can do as an alternative for February Reading Week! Registration is still open 🙂
*Oh hey, what’s that over there, A?R?W? Sounds like a tasty idea! Buh-bye humans, a greater adventure now awaits me, i.e. my afternoon nap….Zzzzzzz