The terms marketing, public relations and advocacy are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. However, all three of these actions support our 4-H clubs and projects. Over the next couple of weeks, we will break down each term and talk about how 4-H volunteers and members can use these actions to benefit their clubs and projects.
Marketing is simply the act of generating interest in your 4-H club or project. It can be through word of mouth, media, or displays at community events or businesses. Public relations goes a step further than just generating interest; it is about promoting a club or program’s reputation and image. Advocacy is the most advanced action of the three, and it is the act of using a program’s reputation and value to generate public and even monetary support.
At first glance, you might think that marketing is the responsibility of the 4-H agent, and it is (at least for the total 4-H program). However, marketing has important implications at the club and individual member levels that volunteers, parents and youth should consider:
- Marketing the Club- recruit additional members and volunteers
- Marketing the Project- generate interest in project sales or secure a buyer for a market animal project
- Marketing your Skills- use 4-H experiences to market workforce skills for your resumé and prepare for school, scholarship or job interviews.
Marketing the 4-H Club
In order to be chartered, clubs must have a minimum of five youth from at least two different families. Marketing is a great way to recruit members for new clubs, but sometimes club rosters may dwindle due to circumstances beyond the volunteer’s or parent’s control such as a change in job, move to a different community, schedule change or even a change in school. A static display at the local library or school or even a press release or social media post can generate new members for your club.
Another reason why volunteers may want to engage in marketing relates to diversity and inclusion. 4-H is a three-way partnership between the federal, state and local governments. As such, 4-H is a non-discriminatory program and annually, 4-H programs must provide evidence that their programs are open to all. If your club is not representative of your community’s demographic make-up, your 4-H agent may ask you to conduct “All Reasonable Efforts.” This is a process to verify that the club has made efforts to engage youth who are representative of their community. Your local 4-H agent can help you identify opportunities to market your club and record those efforts on the “All Reasonable Efforts” checklist.
Marketing the 4-H Project
One of the great things about 4-H is it is a safe place for youth to learn about business and entrepreneurship. Many (if not most) 4-H projects offer opportunities for youth to learn financial literacy skills. Whether it is selling an animal for food, or so that other youth can start a herd or flock, there are opportunities for youth to market their project to generate sales or secure a buyer for their animal. Check out this website from Penn State on tips for identifying potential buyers, drafting a letter to buyers and how to prepare your personal sales pitch.
Marketing Your Skills
To be prepared for work and life, 4-H youth need to learn how to present themselves to potential employers. It can be hard to get that first job or internship when you have no previous experience. Use your 4-H project, leadership and citizenship experiences! The 4-H “Marketing You” worksheet can help you identify marketable workforce skills you have learning through your 4-H experiences to make you a competitive applicant for a job, scholarship or entry into college or trade school. The Florida 4-H Next Stop Job program walks you through how to: