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The right advertising for a “when things go wrong” service

EN | 2 min read

By mid-October the excitement of back-to-campus 2021 orientation events has faded and mid-terms are approaching. Now is the right time to get students thinking about where to get support for resolving complaints and concerns.  Consider these 3 ways of advertising ombuds services:

  1. Focus on positive messaging to get people to START doing something.  View this TED talk on motivation by Dr. Tali Sharot.   Want to learn how to be more proactive about a difficult situation?  Need helpful advice to understand how to bring a concern forward?  Looking for a fair outcome to an unfair situation?  Who knows what’s fair? We do!
  1. Recharge outreach energies for January 2022.   Students receive so much information in their first month at university or college that they might not remember a booth, pamphlet, email, or social medial post advertising the Ombuds service.   Consider however that potential visitors will be studying for 4+ years. Capturing their attention in the relative calm of winter may be more effective than during the whirlwind of September orientation.  
  1. Ask for something.  Rather than offering advice, consider outreach that invites students to offer solutions to a common ombuds problem, to give “what I wish I’d known in my first year” advice to fellow students, or to share a favourite space on campus to contemplate a difficult academic or non-academic issue.  By asking a question, you are also modeling curiosity and demonstrating to students how they can engage in collaborative problem-solving.  Read more about guiding people without giving advice in this  March 2021 blog post in Psychology Today.

Happy fall  – whether your semester  is virtual, in-person, or a unique combination of the two!

– Heather McGhee Peggs