Friday, October 21, 2011

Fraternal Life: Not an Ad Campaign

I don't think Siri even knows what a fraternity or sorority is. I find this hard to believe since she knows everything - including how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if it could chuck wood. We asked Siri, "what are fraternal values?" and she had nothing. When we asked why she had nothing, she referred us to the Genius Bar folks. We felt snubbed. She couldn't even think of something witty to say.

So, we got to thinking. Why doesn't Siri know more about fraternal organizations?

Maybe it's good sign. Maybe the fact that she didn't respond with something horribly cruel, stereotypical, or Animal Housey should make us happy. 

Or, maybe she's just practicing the age old adage "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Well, now we're just paranoid.

All of this begs the same question that has been asked a thousand times: what do the non affiliated think of us (we're making the safe assumption that Siri isn't a sorority woman)? But, more importantly, how are we earning our reputations? Far too often, fraternity and sorority members talk about PR from the viewpoint of wanting to pick and choose a few good things they've done in order to guide and control how the rest of the world views them. For example, we create a press release about the $2,000 raised at last week's philanthropic event and want the world to read it with awe but get pissed when people talk about us when we get busted for hazing.

In order to have a good reputation, a few things need to happen. First, you have to actually do good things. Second, you have to actually be a nice person. Third, you have to do good things and be a nice person consistently - and not just for show. We have little tolerance for fraternity and sorority members who say stupid things like "people only know us for the bad things we do." Um, the problem isn't that people only know about the bad things, the problem is we're doing the bad things.

Okay, blah blah blah, you've heard this before. But, here's a spin you might not have heard before: flaunting that aforementioned $2,000 kind of makes the whole fundraising action a little less authentic - if we may be so bold. The best leaders tend to let their actions speak for them; they don't run around shouting, "Hey, everyone! Come see how good I look!"

We can't pick and choose what people know about us. We can't advertise the good stuff and hide the bad stuff. Worse even, we can't do the good stuff to make up for the bad stuff. I mean, Lindsay Lohan can say she's a stable and reliable adult a million times but no one is ever going to believe her if she keeps acting like a head case all over the place. Call it JV, call it Gaper Greek, call it whatever, you get the idea.

So, Siri doesn't know who we are. Fine. We can wrap our brains around that. We shouldn't need Siri - or the rest of the population - to tell us we're great to know that we are. We'll let our actions speak for us.

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