Do you also experience visibility as a core challenge for your Green Office? You are not alone in this and we frequently hear that GOs struggle to become well known among students.
Universities are oftentimes huge organisations, hosting self-organising sub-cultures of students who (in most cases) live in parallel worlds.
The highest level of visibility that you can achieve is if all students have heard of your GO, know why you exist, what you can do for them and how they can become engaged. This is huge, if you can achieve this.
Becoming visible is a lot of work. So why should you care? Visibility is a precondition for a significant number of students to join your activities, volunteer and support you, write Master theses with you, collaborate with you on projects, apply for student positions, and learn about sustainability. On the contrary, if people do not know you, you do not exist to them.
But you already know this. So let’s get down to 9 powerful tips and tricks that GOs have used to boost their visibility:
(1) Build a pop-up Green Office and then make a tour through your university. Build up the pop-up Green Office very two weeks at another faculty. Check out photos of the pop-up GO at the HS Leiden, as well as a 70sec video in Dutch that explains how they made a tour of different faculties.
(2) Get in touch with the Marketing and Communications department of your university and see how you can work with them. In the best case, you can supply them with content that they then publish via their channels. They might also supply you with an overview of all existing communication channels, like internal newsletters, mailing lists, events calendars, or advertisements on screens. Rather than setting up your own communication channels it is good practice to leverage what is already there.
(3) Make a 90sec video about your GO. You can then spread the video via social media, post it on your website and send it to people via email that you want to inform about your work. Developing a short video about the GO model was one of our first actions and a huge success. Check out the video as a source of inspiration, here.
(4) Collect email addresses of professors who are teaching courses with students who might be interested in what you do. Send the professors very kind emails, asking them to promote your events among their students. Just be careful not to spam the professors too much. One email per semester should be enough.
(5) Get in contact with your local or regional newspaper, radio, or television station that also have students as customers so that they can report about you. You can also start with trying to get an article into your local university newspaper or magazine. Appearing in the media always provides visibility and legitimacy to your work, so make sure you spread the media report yourself.
(6) At the beginning of each academic year, find out what professors are teaching first-year students. Then write these professors and kindly ask them if you can give a 3min pitch about your GO to their course. The pitch can be about a big event you are organizing or that you are recruiting students.
(7) Together with key partners, organize one loud and visible event at the beginning of each semester. This can be a keynote lecture of a famous person, a sustainability quiz, competition, vegan barbecue etc. In terms of increasing visibility it is better to have one big event that you massively promote, rather than 10 small events that you promote only a little bit. This event can help you so that students and staff become aware about you.
(8) Become the topic of coffee corner conversations. What do people like to talk about at the coffee corner? Gossip, sports, the weather, something funny or remarkable. You become the topic of coffee corner conversations if you do something daring, funny or even crazy. For instance, check out the video of how the mayor of Vilnius fights illegally parked cars, here.
(9) Ask other student organisations to promote your events via social media. Like the facebook pages of all student organisations, clubs, societies and initiatives at your institution. If you organise an event or have information to share, write a nice facebook message to their pages and suggest that your event might be interesting for people who like their page. Suggest that you are happy to share their events in return. Also include a sample post that they can easily copy-paste to their page.
Do you have other ideas of what GOs could do to advance their visibility? We are always collecting ideas. Get in touch to share your ideas with us so that we can include them in future posts.
By Felix Spira. Cover photo by arianta, CC BY-NC 2.0, 2014