Fall Promotion and Marketing
The reunion co-chairs are responsible for authoring at least two or three mailings to classmates prior to the reunion. The letters should include a balance of nostalgia about the past with a hint of the new to arouse classmate's curiosity about returning to Cambridge. The three mailings should include the following information:
(Combine this with the initial Class Report mailing and save $$$)
- Announce "Save the dates" for reunion week.
- Announce fall pre-reunion events (area luncheons, local events).
- Include the first class report questionnaire and information regarding the cost of the book. In order to do this the mailing must be coordinated with the Class Report Office.
- Ask for volunteers to help with planning the reunion.
- Mention the role of long-distance classmates: a) planning regional pre-reunion events, or; b) serving as members of the national class network.
- Include a return card with intent to attend the reunion.
- Present a draft schedule of reunion events, including locations and times.
- List names of classmates who plan to attend the reunion (if available).
- Include a reminder about the class report questionnaire for those classmates who have not responded and thank-you to those who have.
- Make a strong pitch to attend the reunion.
- Include a "Lifestyle" questionnaire if it is something the committee decides to undertake.
- If possible, design and include a carefully thought out reunion registration form that outlines costs.
- Has a carefully written letter that makes a final appeal for attendance and presents the final schedule.
- If it was not in the May mailing, design and include a carefully thought out reunion registration form that outlines costs.
- States strongly the deadline for the return of the reunion registration form.
Make Everyone Feel Welcome
Why do many classmates fail to attend reunions? A late 1980's survey showed that financial considerations and the distance to travel were cited as reasons for not attending by 21%, followed closely by "couldn't get away" by 15%. A spouse not wanting to attend was a factor for 5%. The other reasons mentioned more than once were: "I didn't know if I would know anyone"; "I'm afraid everyone else is more successful"; "I'm just not the reunion type."
These statistics and comments show us that a reunion organizer has to make sure that: Everyone feels comfortable about returning; that many different circles of friends are involved in the reunion planning; and that different kinds of events are offered, so that each classmate can find some part of the reunion that appeals.
Here are some promotional hints:
- Be mindful of unmarried classmates, 10% - 15% of the class may be unmarried. This means many may feel uncomfortable at a dinner/dance without a partner. It is better to downplay the dancing and stress chatting, mingling, and the chance to meet new and old friends. Some classes have arranged pre-event gatherings for single classmates.
- Avoid language that makes everything sound family or couple oriented. If possible, make it easy for classmates to hire baby-sitters (see Appendix iii).
- A veteran reunion pro once said that the way to get lots of classmates to come is to state in every mailing "that I have no idea who is coming, and I am sure I won't know anyone either!" Others suggest including the names of those who say they hope to or plan to attend in at least one mailing. Inviting or assigning classmates to call their own friends works well, but also be sure to have them call people they have never met. A friendly caller can make a big difference convincing the reluctant classmate to come. Many people cite new friendships as one of the lasting benefits of reunions.
- Organize Reunion Committee members as a hospitality committee for each event. This small group can watch for people standing alone or looking overwhelmed. If five people are assigned to make a point of going up to newcomers and introducing themselves it makes it a lot easier for the newcomer.
- It is wise to try to avoid time conflicts for events. Make the seminars consecutive -- even if you feel that a symposium on lifestyles will interest a different group from a panel on international economics. It is not worth appointing the organizers of either event to set up a popularity contest.
- Local organizers sometimes forget that out-of-towners come to reunions partly to see old and new Harvard and Radcliffe buildings. A little nostalgia is nice and can be lost if too many events are held away from Cambridge. Try to set up events that use some old buildings, some new, some Harvard, and some Radcliffe.
- Make the nametags with BIG LETTERS, so they can be easily read from a distance, and try to somehow distinguish classmates from Harvard wives and Radcliffe husbands.
National Class Network
It is important to develop a nationwide network to contact classmates in person or by telephone to encourage them to attend the reunion.
The chairs of the national network should meet or speak with the co-chairs of the reunion in January or before to discuss strategy. A Harvard and Radcliffe class printout in zip code order should be requested from the HAA office early in preparation for this meeting. The class will not be charged for this service. One or two classmates should be identified in each metropolitan area of the country to whom a copy of the class printout can be sent. In larger metropolitan areas, more than two classmates may participate in the network. These classmates could be those who are working on fundraising for the colleges. Encouraging reunion attendance will give them something to say in addition to a request for a donation. The phone calls should take place immediately after the final reunion letter and registration form have been sent in early April. At this point in time it will be important to have up-to-date registration information handy so that those who have already agreed to come to the reunion will not be asked again.