Clubs should improve communication to increase first-year engagement

September will be a watershed moment for the Queen’s student experience. After three years of unsettledness, classes and clubs are finally moving back in person.

However, during these COVID years, engagement in student-run organizations such as the AMS, faculty societies, and clubs has decreased; the transition to virtual schooling has damaged previous links between groups.

Many student leaders across campuses hope that returning to in-person events will improve student engagement, but that may not be enough. Targeting this year’s incoming first-year cohort could be the key to reviving the university’s club experience.

Poor communication is at the heart of the decline in student engagement.

If we want to revive the pre-pandemic student engagement levels, clubs must revise their communication strategies and increase collaboration. This includes prioritizing the quantity of followers they reach and transforming their internal and external communication strategies.

Clubs should focus on reaching the highest number of students by implementing different marketing strategies.

The problem clubs have been facing is not the decline in the quality of their services, but rather their inability to quickly develop new strategies and maintain relationships with student cohorts during the transition to a virtual environment.

Therefore, club executives need to not only think of what new elements they can bring this year but also how they can rebuild connections with students. Doing so can help student-run organizations be better prepared to welcome the class of 2026.

Graphic design expertise and other technical skills shouldn’t be limited to marketing positions. Rather, clubs should also value strong communication abilities when hiring for director-level roles.

Finding a target audience, reaching out to form alliances with related clubs, or using short and engaging videos are just some ideas marketing teams can utilize to improve efficiency and maximize student awareness of their clubs.

Clubs should also use persuasive language in event promotion and recruiting on social media. They should try putting themselves in other people’s shoes when writing the content and captions of posts—rather than focusing on the aesthetics of the graphic, teams should put more thought into how their posts can attract the broadest audience.

The AMS Clubs Commission, and other external student-run organizations such as Res-Soc, Faculty Societies, and Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR), can also host more club-based events throughout the year to target first-year students and foster connections.

Centralizing clubs through shared interests not only encourages club-to-club alliances and dialogue, but also creates an organized and accessible resource for incoming students to seek out extracurriculars that align with their interests.

Effective communication does not only mean reaching out to external groups and students but also improving communication within an organization’s internal structure.

According to a survey conducted by Tower Watson, organizations with effective internal communication produce a 47 per cent higher return rate than the ones with poor communication.

To increase efficiency and foster internal collaboration, a club’s executive team should first make sure team members have a solid understanding of both the club structure and other colleagues’ portfolios.

This can be accomplished through having them visualize the information, either by a creating a job brochure, writing a detailed description in the “about” section of the official website, or reaching each position holder directly for inquiries.

It’s also important to strengthen the connections between club members by hosting regular social events, creating short-term collaboration projects between teams, and encouraging centralized information and idea sharing.

It is club leaders’ duty to put thought into improving internal communication to increase their team’s productivity and their student engagement.

After having much high school time by the pandemic, the class of 2026 may be eager to take advantage of all the extracurriculars Queen’s has to offer. They could be the vigorous and engaged audience that clubs so desperately need.

With effective communication and the right marketing, first years will no longer avoid clubs. Rather, they will see how clubs provide opportunities to learn valuable skills and form life-long friendships.

Here’s hoping the class of 2026 can rekindle this passion.

Leo Yang is a second-year politics, philosophy, and economics student.


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