QR codes, leaflets, and posters litter the hallways of campus. On some bulletin boards, show posters are stapled atop of others. These layers of advertising draw a quick glance from any pedestrian, but the real show seller is not a paragraph in GroupMe or slip of paper taped to the wall. Tables on Locust Walk do the bulk of the work for any event, so it’s about time for walkshifters and walkers to rethink how to advertise.
For anyone unfamiliar with the dreaded task, walkshifting is the practice of selling tickets, collecting money, or passing out something for a club or organization. You might wonder, is it fun?! The answer is usually no. Trying to pass out flyers for an hour to an indifferent crowd sucks the life out of you — take it from me and my countless walkshifts for The Mask and Wig Club. Leaving a Monday morning lecture and holding out tiny slips of paper within eyeshot of blank stares ate up my freetime and enthusiasm.
Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate the pain of publicizing and make interactions between classes better for everyone. Instead of being scrapped, walkshifting can be revamped. Hyping up a cause should not be a hassle for either party, but it does require both to work together.
First, for walkshifters, the more people you have to help out, the better the experience. Also, instead of chatting only with your other walkshifters, shifting the conversation to include people walking by can help engage your target audience. What people also like to hear, other than slogans or “come see ___ this weekend,” is background music. A single speaker can do a lot.
All of this is contingent on the fact that walkshifters talk to their audience instead of socializing solely with each other. Too often do you see a poster for an interesting event accompanied by people with zero salesmanship. Drawing in a crowd can be fun with the right people, and on the other side of the spectrum, not guilt-tripping your friends into doing something looks good too. Sometimes, passersby say no, and that comes with the job. Walkshifting is a chance to sell, and not everyone wants what you’re advertising.
Not essential but helpful is providing a bit of entertainment or incentives too. The frequent salsa and other fast-paced movement dances snatch the most attention, but who says you can’t act out a scene from a play in public? Even the charity whipped cream pie-ing, while messy, entertains the people involved and those headed to class. If you are forced to walkshift for a group, make the most of it by showing the rest of campus what you have to offer.
Second, for the marketable walkers, there is no need to be hostile to a vibrant student life salesplace. Grab a flyer — remember there is no obligation to go to a show or event. The worst outcome is now you have something small that could be recycled or tucked away in your pocket for the rest of the day. The best case scenario is that you are exposed to something new which is kind of what college is all about. Instead of ranting on Sidechat or ignoring someone on Locust, take in the opportunities to engage while you have them.
Like myself, you may be concerned about running to your next class, but those fifteen minutes offer plenty of time to say hi to a friend at a stand or have a brief conversation with a new face. Those fifteen minutes might be the only time to socialize for the next couple of hours. Yes, we all enjoy listening to music during the brief moments of silence in a busy schedule; I suggest pulling out your earbuds between 1920 Commons and ARCH to hear the heart of campus. Especially when it’s warm outside, this stretch of activity buzzes with marketplace energy.
Extracurricular activities and charitable causes are abundant at Penn. They occupy the time of committed students, raise funds through their supporters’ passion, and captivate incoming first years each fall. Advertising on Locust should be less of a chore and more of an opportunity, but that reality can only change with a revitalized effort among walkshifters and an openness to experience among Locust walkers.
C.H. HENRY is a College sophomore studying communication and diplomatic history from Nashville, Tenn. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.