This reflection is written mostly for future office bearers of EUSA societies. Activities Fair is THE WAY to get new people for the new academic year. Of course, the determined ones will find your soc anyway. However, many people want to learn more before committing to something like going to an event. And many will actually discover your soc this way.
Our goal was to attract new fresh people into our society. After turbulent two years, EMPS didn’t have much of active members left (+/- 8 active members left, 6 of those in the committee), and those left were not representative of the audience that is interested in filmmaking (committee was 6 guys, all with sciency focus, whereas Facebook page has roughly 50/50 m/f following from various schools). Therefore, encouraging new people to join us, and hopefully diversifying our group, was vital for new projects to be made, for allowing us to take a new look at the importance of filmmaking, and for finding new ways how to improve and be more inclusive as a society.
What went into preparations for Activities Fair:
Hours: 25-30 (among 3 people)
Money: around £30
For this, we’ve prepared the following:
- EMPS Leaflets (around 120 total; all taken; 4 hr; £13) – Leaflets were describing what activities to expect, when will be meeting, what will people get for membership, and contact info. Most importantly, it’s something people could take home with them, and be reminded of our society once they were free.
- Lynda.com Leaflets (around 100 total; around 10 taken) – University offers free access to Lynda.com for students. Since those that are serious about learning and becoming professional in filmmaking might be interested in these, we’ve obtained the leaflets from the Main Library desk, who were promoting this opportunity too. Asking goes a long way.
- uCreate Leaflets (around 100 total; around 5 taken) – Obtained them same way as Lynda.com leaflets. Reason I’ve taken them was that I remembered that uCreate computers were those that have all the creative software on them (video-editing, effects, etc), which could be of use to those that do not have access to the software otherwise.
- Celebrations (= assorted sweets; 2 boxes total; £12) – Celebrations are kind of EMPS internal joke, always being at least one of the prizes for competitions. In terms of Activities Fair, it’s a nice gesture, it looks nice, and it’s a small help for hungry students or people at the stall. It’s better if anybody can take it, rather than restricting it to only those that buy membership/sign up.
- Cameras – We are a filmmaking society, which means we should have equipment. Because the lack of equipment can be a major deterrent, showing people what we’ve got and letting them know that they can use it is crucial to encourage people to join. We’ve brought two cameras, tripod, and something more. However, the space is truly limited, so we’ve had only two cameras displayed, and the rest could have been kept at its storage place. And if you bring the equipment, make sure you’ve got somebody who knows something about it.
- EMPS Trailer – We also wanted to show what was done in EMPS, hence a trailer made of all EMPS videos. Activities Fair is a busy place, so going without sound is better. We’ve also went for more visual things, so people would notice. This also turned out to be a great convo starter, esp. as we had our own vids mixed in too, so we could talk easily about those.
- A1 Poster (£7 + bluetac; 4 hr;) – Poster was meant to cover the front of the stall we had. Great idea, worked (I think). Downside is that the poster was too tall. Since there’s been a lot of people, and thus people usually noticed the stall from 1-2m distance, the bottom part of the poster was impossible to read. Next time half the height would be better.
- Pen&Paper Signup – Email is likely the BEST way how to contact people (People might not see the page’s status on FB), so we wanted to get onto our mailing list all those that shown interest. Also, we wanted to make sure that if something happens to our laptops, people will still be able to sign up. For this reason, we’ve printed several signup sheets (for up to 250 people together). Columns were First name, Last name (these two for contacting purposes), UUN (EUSA required), Email (where people receive the newsletter), and Graduation date (so we can take into consideration what year people are in, when preparing events (eg 4th years are likely busier than freshers)).
- Google Forms Singup – Same as above, but in digital form. We did not use it in the end because we had only one laptop and that played our trailer. But DO MAKE SURE you have a spare laptop for this. It will save you about 6 hours, and save you from the mistakes when copying emails (people do not always write nicely).
- QR Signup – Same as above, but as a QR for those that want to use their phones. Unfortunately, QR scanners are not widely used, so this was not used eventually, but I recommend giving people one way or another a chance to sign up via phone too, so that they can do it easily and do not have to wait in line. (After the activities fair, we’ve implemented signup for into our website, so that could be used).
- I prepared beans and small jars where people could vote for the things they’d like to do. This was a failure. DO NOT DO IT. (Google forms could be OK though)
Too complicated, 2. Too much space taken (space better utilized by sweets or cameras), 3. People at activities fair are mostly just CONSIDERING whether to join. These people could vote and then never go to a meeting. Thus, it’s better if people at meetings already vote for what they’d like, as they are the ones that will be affected by the choice.
How did our Activities Fair go? Very well!
- There’s loads of people, and the people themselves are probably tired from going from stall to stall. So instead of persuading them to become members, we’ve talked about what we offer and what are our plans for the semester. Since we’ve had our plan since about May, we knew what to talk about, and this helped greatly. It’s also important to find out why the person is interested in the society, so that we can meet their expectations if possible.
- As we decided not to push membership, we didn’t get any members, but this way we probably opened up ourselves to more potentially interested people.
- Our table was full (more so since guys next to us had almost nothing), so we think we’ve made the most out of what we’ve been given.
- NOTE: Standing at the stall for 5 hr is long, esp. if it rains, so if you have somebody who can change shifts with you. Otherwise you’ll get hungry, you’ll get tired, and you won’t be as good in promoting the society as you could otherwise be.
All and all, I think we did the most of what we had. We were happy to learn about people’s desires (documentaries, competitions, learn the basics, etc.), which will help us tailor the experience for the members. The huge diversity among people that were interested was also beautiful to see, and combined with how many people signed up, I think we’ve successfully fulfilled our goal.
– Juro, EMPS President 2017/18