Rebuilding Your Choir In A Post-Pandemic World!
Along with travel, the arts has probably been the most affected by the pandemic; with months spent online, membership has dropped, and barely any new members have joined. So, it’s time to think about getting back to in-person singing and, more importantly, how to get back in a world where singing has been singled out as one of the “super-spreaders” and a world where people are still nervous – especially if you have an older demographic. So, what can you do to entice members, old and new, to come back? This month, the Canadian Choir Leader Network (CCLN) looks at a few simple practices that will help with your Summer recruitment drive.
Plan a Pre-relaunch Project
If time allows, put together a small, informal pre-relaunch project. This could take the form of an online virtual choir video published just prior to opening or some outdoor rehearsals or performances where your choir can get together and just sing for fun. This will create some social excitement and bring back the joy of singing in a group – in essence, a great reminder of what they have missed. In addition, any public singing will create a buzz, so be prepared to chat with your audience and invite interested parties along to be part of the future fun.
Try Before You Buy
If you are a paid membership choir and you’ve never done it before, consider offering a ‘try before you buy’ incentive to new members. First, have them come along and participate in a rehearsal for free before signing up. Then, enlist a few of your current members to ‘buddy up’ with these potential newbies to make them feel welcome – have them sit with them during rehearsal, chat with them during any breaks and generally have them “sell” your choir for you. Of course, there is nothing greater than a personal recommendation, so this is something that can also be implemented away from rehearsal by encouraging your members to pass the word around that you’re recruiting for the upcoming season!
Communicate the Benefits
Use social media, email, newsletters or even an online fun and uplifting personal video posted to your Facebook group or emailed from you, the director, to communicate the benefits of joining (or re-joining) your choir. Think about the mental health issues, loneliness and loss many have suffered over the last 16-months and clearly explain how being part of a choir community can help alleviate those stresses – did you know that the British National Health Service actually prescribes ‘joining a choir’ as part of the treatment for mental health issues? As professionals, we know the benefits, but members of the public don’t always understand that a choir is more than just singing!
Use a Hook to Encourage Members to Return
Think of ‘a hook’ to entice members back or to encourage new members to join. This is not a time to be returning to our old routines but a time to think outside the box concerning song choice and future performances. Choose an epic, uplifting opening song, something you know your choir is going to love, perhaps even something they’ve repeatedly requested, but you’ve not necessarily had the time or inclination to arrange – remember recruitment is not about us as leaders, it’s about figuring out what our potential members want and providing it using OUR skills and magic.
Offer an Incentive
If your choir is subscription-based, consider offering an ‘introduce a friend’ incentive to current members. This could be a simple as the chance to win a prize, a free ticket to a future event or a monetary incentive in terms of their own fees. Of course, you’ll have to figure out what works best for you both financially and practically. Still, everyone loves to feel they’re being rewarded and appreciated for their contribution, so make this a priority and get your members working on the recruitment drive for you.
Utilize Free Advertising Opportunities
Look around in your local community for free advertising opportunities: coffee shops, supermarkets and even apartment buildings often have notice boards where you can advertise community-based activities. GP Surgeries or active living communities would be a good place to check out too, especially with the mental health benefits singing provides. If you don’t have time to pound the sidewalk yourself, produce a simple poster and enlist the help of your members to distribute them into the local community.
Approach Local Media with a Story of Interest
You could consider paid advertising, but most of us in the arts have struggled financially through this pandemic, so think about approaching your local newspapers, TV or radio stations with a ‘story of interest’ about your choir. Despite their reputation, the media are always looking for a positive angle, so put your thinking cap on and develop a creative story to get your choir noticed.
Find Free Places to Advertise
Look into free advertising; many local news outlets have online classifieds where you can post your ‘event’ for free. And if you think you’re not an ‘event’, think again – a rehearsal is just as much a calendar event as the local yoga, piano or art class, all of whom use these free platforms for advertising their services.
Pay If Your Budget Allows
If you do have the ‘speculate-to-accumulate’ philosophy and your budget allows, a good platform to advertise is Facebook. You can very specifically target your audience location and demographic and set financial limits to help you control your budget. TV, radio, and newspaper ads are also great but can be very expensive and not necessarily as targeted as Facebook!
Reassure Your New and Returning Members
Be careful with your wording when trying to recruit. In this post-pandemic world, former and potential members will be looking for reassurance regarding their safety. Make it clear that you will follow all local guidelines and, where possible, include a link to your local authority’s Covid-19 protocols. Communicate that the comfort level of your members is paramount to your success. Continue to provide sanitiser, temperature checks, allow distancing and masking, even if it’s not a requirement – this could be the difference between someone signing up and not. And finally, continue to offer contact tracing, whether through a register of attendees or a sign-up sheet on arrival. These small steps will go a long way when demonstrating that you have created a safe singing environment.
When all is said and done, we have only scratched the surface on what’s possible when it comes to marketing your choir, so we’d love to hear your suggestions. Please post any ideas or recruitment opportunities we’ve missed in the comments below – what better way to give back to this amazing community than to help our fellow leaders return to doing what they love doing the most!
Did you enjoy our blog? Check out our other blogs on all choir related topics.