Professional Development Report by Brett Seidl
On September 11, I had the chance to attend Greek Leads, an annual event hosted by the K-State Office of Greek Affairs each fall. I had attended the event in the past, and each year includes some sort of presentation aimed at inspiring Greek members to hold themselves to a higher standard. As in years past, Tuesday’s event was well-attended (hundreds of K-State Greeks, many of whom were required to attend by their chapter). And just like last year, most of the students in attendance knew exactly what to expect from the keynote speaker – the classic line about bad Greek stereotypes and what we should do to change it. However, this year’s keynote turned out to be a fresh and inspiring look at how our organizations communicate with their publics.
The keynote speaker was Mike McRee, vice president of LeaderShape, Inc. He speaks with thousands of Greek members each year and is a highly respected leader within fraternal leadership organizations nationwide. Immediately, he built his credibility with the audience by sharing about his Greek experience at Kansas State – he spent his college years as a Sigma Nu at K-State. He spoke about the negative and positive messages that fraternities and sororities send to the K-State campus every day. He shared examples of bad PR modeled by chapters across the country – from embarrassing social media posts to degrading fraternity t-shirts. McRee even did some research on how K-State Greeks communicate – and he shared them in a very public way. He flashed screenshots from chapter websites and Collegian articles that represent poor PR for K-State fraternities and sororities. It was a direct, impactful, and somewhat humorous way of driving his message home. The root idea – “think about what you’re communicating.” Fraternities and sororities have many publics, from prospective members to non-Greeks nationwide, and have years of negative stereotypes to fight against. His hour-long presentation reminded me that everything I do is being noticed by someone, and that my actions represent the organizations I’m involved with (including my fraternity and the greater Greek community). Although McRee may be a leadership speaker by trade, he had engaging and thoughful insights into the complex world of message formation and organizational PR.