Co-sponsorships with other campus organizations can help you plan bigger events on a tight budget. Maintaining strong relationships with administrative departments can put your campus a few steps closer to achieving your goals. How do you network to build strong alliances? This is a three-step crash course in public relations.
Step One: Identify Allies
Networking is all about maintaining relationships that are mutually beneficial for your group and the other party. The first step is to identify the people with whom you need to establish working relationships.
Media – The media can be your friend. Honestly. Maintain a good relationship with those who report the news so they will cover the news your group makes! Remember… why pay for an ad in the newspaper when you can have the media cover your event for free!
On Campus – Check out your campus television station, newspaper, and radio. Chances are, you know people already who work at these.
Off Campus – Again, your local media can be a great deal of help when you do community outreach activities or are working to change local politics.
Electronic – Email, social media and listservs can be amazing assets! Most college students check their email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, Instagram, etc at least three times daily, so make use of these tools.
Publics – These are the people at whom your message is directed – or those people who will help you get that message out. As diverse as a campus GLBT organization is, members of your organization are probably also involved in many of these. Ask if they will serve as a representative, making sure the GLBT student perspective is heard and understood in each of the areas mentions.
Student Development — This is the office where you’ll most likely find yourself if you plan to get a resource center established on your campus. This is also who oversees the function of student led organizations, as well as houses your Multicultural Center and Women’s Center. It can be handy to know the administration in this department and talk with them regularly.
Residence Life — Having a good working relationship with the resident advisors can help you reach students who live on campus and may not know about your organization. Usually, this is a very GLBT friendly department. You can also develop a training program with ResLife to include GLBT issues – which comes in handy when a member is afraid to come out to a roommate.
Counseling Center — Make sure your counseling center has pamphlets on sexual orientation. Talk with counselors about including a support group for GLBT students.
Student Programs — Chances are, your campus has its own student programming organization that plans all the concerts, special events and cultural activities on your campus. Is it inclusive of GLBT students? Is the Dating Game heterosexist? Could you co-sponsor a Second Chance Prom with the special events committee?
Other campus groups
Fraternities & Sororities
LGBT Friendly Religious/Spiritual Groups
Campus ACLU Chapter
Campus NOW Chapter
Grad student group
GLBT community organizations
GLBT and GLBT-Friendly Businesses
Step Two: Establish the Relationship
- E-mail is the greatest way to establish initial contact with a possible ally.
- Let them know who you are and what you hope to do with your organization in the near future.
- Let them know how they can help you, but, more importantly, how you can help them.
- Ask to add yourself to their mailing list and offer to add them to yours.
- Ask what is going on with their organization or department.
- Ask them how you can get involved.
Step Three: Follow up and Follow Through
You probably have one of those friends who only comes around when they need something from you. You probably hate that. So will your allies. Maintain the relationship by calling or stopping by regularly. Chances are, your contacts are busy and will remember to add you to their “to do” list if you put yourself on their radar screen.
Send thank you notes when a contact helps you out or after an event you plan with them.
Go to one of their meetings once or twice a semester if you have time.
Form committees or appoint representatives to maintain the relationship for you.
Source: Campus Pride, 2006.