We Need to Stop Falling Short on Our ‘Why’

I have really learned and grown to understand the importance of an organization’s ‘why’ through taking this Leadership course, watching Simon Sinek’s powerful TED Talk, as well as acting in my leadership role in the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA). Knowing what an organization does is great, but what makes someone want to keep coming back or become more interested is the underlying reason of why an organization does what it does best.

So, I thought it would be really interesting to analyze some ads found in the Targum and see if different on-campus organizations stated or alluded to their ‘why.’ Let’s take a look at 3 of them!

First up is an ad for a RUPA event:


RUPA’s mission is to provide students and other members of the community with out of the classroom experiences, which includes various programs and events. As an active member in this student life organization, it is extremely important to market and advertise our events to the best of our ability – through our Targum ads, social media, and in-person marketing (you’ve probably seen our puple polos a lot around campus). When we market these events, it is common to state what the event is and to simply introduce RUPA as the programming board on campus.

Yes, we want people to love RUPA as a long-term goal, but our short-term goals are to let many people know of our events and more importantly have many people come to each of our programs. Because we are so focused on this, our organization’s “why” is not explicitly, or even implicitly, stated in Targum ads, as you can see in the one posted above. What’s being advertised is a lecture from Michelle Alexander, an author and professor at Ohio State University. The details of the event are listed along with RUPA’s logo. This ad is really saying, “We want you to come to this event!” It is not saying WHY we want students to attend the event.

I think that as the programming association, we get so caught up in our events and making them the best that they can be, however no where on our advertisements do we explain our underlying ‘why.’

Now let’s move on to a different Student Life Organization – Off-Campus Students’ Association (OCSA):


The first thing that I noticed about this ad is the name of the event – “General Interest and Alcohol Awareness Meeting.” I thought it was a very interesting approach to have an event with dual purposes: a general interest meeting along with learning about alcohol abuse. However, the description only mentions the alcohol abuse informational meeting with no reference to learning more about the organization OCSA.

Because I am a part of Student Life, I understand the importance of OCSA and why they provide their programs. Unlike RUPA, which holds events for all students, and sometimes faculty and guests, OCSA really gears their programming towards students who commute or live off campus. This is important because they really support and advocate for off-campus students and also provide leadership opportunities. However, someone reading this ad in the Targum that is not familiar with OCSA may not really get it or understand why there is a program dealing with alcohol abuse. The ‘why’ of the organization should be stated along with the name and details of the event, to peak students’ interest and make them want to learn more. If a student learns that members of OCSA take pride in providing out of the classroom activities for commuters and off-campus students or voicing their concerns to the student government, they might be more inclined to stop by the event and even future events!

Lastly, let’s take a look at this ad from The Targum:

Targum Ad

It is pretty simple to see the approach that they took for this ad – earning money! “Don’t let Spring Break leave you broke”, “Earn extra $$$”, “Position pays by the hour”, “Poll workers and promoters: $8/hr.” At a first glance, this may excite many students – what broke college student wouldn’t want to make some extra cash? However, this is all that The Targum is advertising. In my opinion, they really fall short on their organization’s ‘why.’ Many students know that The Targum is our school’s daily newspaper, but many do not know what their underlying ‘why’ is and I think it would be very beneficial for them to state it in this advertisement

Like I learned from Simon Sinek, people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. Just saying what your organization/company does might be ok for the short-term, but if you want people to really believe in what you do and trust you, it is important to include the ‘why.’ It may be difficult to include this in a quarter page advertisement, however it is definitely something that I think many organizations should strive for.


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