by NICOLE STOTELMYER
As the Maryland statewide recruitment weekend on April 13-14 approaches, we wanted to share some tips to make the most of your open house efforts.
It takes some planning ahead of time to successfully advertise your open house, to create some excitement in your neighborhood about your department, your open house activities and volunteering. You should begin some of your advertising efforts at least 6-8 weeks before your open house date(s), ramping up as the event gets closer.
If your department hasn’t signed up yet for the event, please click here to do so.. We’ll be marketing events statewide to your communities via social media as well.
PROMOTING YOUR EVENT
There are many ways to invite your community into your station in your effort to get them happily involved as volunteers, among them:
- Change the marquee or sign in front of your department to announce your Recruitment Day(s) Open House
- Update your department’s website to include details about your open house
- Create an event on your department’s Facebook page and ask all members to share it — “Boost” your event to a mile radius of your station easily. Check out the basic instructions here. plus we’ll be posting more social media advertising tips on a new Recruiter Resources section launching soon.
- Create posts and share your event on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media platforms you use. Be sure to create and add weekly posts about your open house to your social media outlets to build excitement about your event.
- Hang posters or flyers promoting your open house events. Ask local businesses to hang them to help you promote your event. We’ll have a promotional poster you can download and customize in the coming weeks!
- You may download and use any of the MSFA Recruitment Videos here. and then upload them to your Facebook Event or post, or embed them on your website. Just hit the “Download” or “Share” icons on each individual video.
- Reach out to local TV, radio, newspaper (pennysaver/shopper) outlets and see if they will do a press release or PSA’s to advertise your open house activities and a call for volunteers
- Place yard signs, banners and sandwich signs in front of your fire house
- If you have a department newsletter or e-blast include information about the event
- Personally invite or send invites to past members to come and revisit what they loved about volunteering
- Reach out to your local government and community groups and ask for their support to promote the event, including it on their own community calendars
- Other (insert your own creative ideas that will increase attendance, make the public feel welcomed and generate interest in what you have to offer)
THINGS TO DO AT YOUR RECRUITMENT EVENT
- Have interactive opportunities for them to engage with your volunteers, apparatus and equipment.
- Consider one or more live demonstrations
- Have scheduled firehouse tours in small groups (every 15-30 minutes depending on your expected attendance) that include an introductory few minutes outlining the membership application process, benefits your department offers, the ways people can volunteer operationally and administratively — and set CLEAR expectations of the time commitment and expectations of your volunteers — recruiting is just as much about finding the right people as it is ensuring prospective members who can’t meet your department’s requirements don’t start the process.
- Be prepared to answer the top 10-15 questions a new recruit may ask — create a flyer or “Prospective Member FAQ” document to hand out?
- Have your recruitment team set up and staff a membership table with information about your department, the benefits of joining and be sure to have pens and inquiry forms, prospective member guides and/or applications ready as appropriate.
- If you have a junior program, they should also have a table and cadet representatives to talk with prospective junior members
- Ask local businesses to donate items for a door prize drawing as a way to encourage people to give you their contact info. Use these items to thank them for coming and to invite them back for other events and fundraisers at your station
Have more ideas you’d like to share with your fellow Maryland recruiters? Email them to [email protected]