As a busy fife and drum corps that concentrates on music and performance, public relations might not be a main focus. This can make recruiting and promoting events more challenging. Here, we will assume that your corps needs to recruit members. However, the marketing principles contained herein can be used to promote a membership drive, performance event, or fundraising event.
Your corps must be visible in your community. If your corps is already active, this won’t be a problem. If you are not yet performing regularly, look for opportunities.
There is nothing that works better for recruiting than being seen playing in your uniforms. Everyone loves uniforms and they’re intrigued by the instruments that we play. Be seen. You’ll do yourself a favor.
For example, you might perform at the following places: Is a new preschool opening in town? Play at it. Graduation for your town’s 5th grade? Perform there! Halloween Graveyard Walk? Play a couple tunes. Opening of your town’s annual government, one that’s covered on TV? Be a part of the opening ceremony! Community center opening? Time to play a little Yankee. Can you have an outside practice? Go for it!
Don’t tire your current members too much, but think of performance venues in which there will be lots of kids, parents, citizens, town leaders, and yes - local media! Look at your town’s calendar and perform.
These aren’t just performances. They are opportunities to hand out marketing materials. (The particular materials will be discussed under “Public Relations.”) Have a team of family members or friends hand out:
- Rack cards
- Business cards
- Other promotional materials unique to your corps
- Wear t-shirts
- And put up a lawn sign!
Then, in a very friendly manner, take the opportunity to invite people to come to an open house and talk about your corps. If you are recruiting for a junior corps, don’t limit yourself to handing out items to kids who are the “right” age for your open house. Remember, a 5 year old will be the right age one day. Invite that child to join in a couple years or invite the child to watch you in your next parade! Whatever you do, be friendly to your public.
It is always a good idea to bring a sign-up sheet on a clipboard with you to public events. This way, you can contact potential members and remind them later about your open house.
Recruiting is easier if you make public relations a regular part of your corps’s game plan. Even if you haven’t or if you are starting a corps from scratch, no worries. You can do this!
It has been said that in public relations, someone has to see something seven times and in multiple ways to be aware of an event or group. This needs to be your guiding principle as you prepare for your recruiting open house. If you’ve been appearing in public with your corps and handing out promotional materials, you are on your way! Now, saturate your area with physical and digital marketing materials.