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Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:48 am
by cchiego
Last week, I tried a different approach to getting in touch with coaches of teams who didn't normally come to our tournaments: phone calls. Though the sample size was small, I'm encouraged by the results thus far which yielded a few registrations and useful information on why some teams weren't attending. Some benefits:

1. Phone extensions for teachers are surprisingly easy to find. In many cases, even easier than emails. If you want to be really clever and match up the timing of your phone call with the teacher's planning period, check the bell schedule and see if they have their planning period listed. I've found, however, that right after school gets out seems to be more effective. Note that I haven't yet tried out cold-calling schools without any kind of academic team though, so targeting principals may be a different game.

2. Emailed tournament invites have a nasty tendency to get caught in the spam filter or deleted before getting read, so phone calls are also a good way to get confirmation that they're getting (or not getting) your emails. I've gotten the best results thus far from "Occasional" schools that may have attended a tournament the year or two before, but aren't regulars on the quizbowl circuit and don't keep track of things in the forums. It's also just much easier to delete an email than to tell an actual human that you're not going to send a team to an awesome pyramidal tournament.

3. It's easier to discuss pyramidal questions since you can gauge their reaction and offer counter-arguments rather than a wall of didactic text; nothing wrong with those, but they're probably not as effective at convincing.

Any coaches on here have preferences or advice about phone calls? I'd only do this once a year per school and always during planning or after school. I think Fred mentioned once that he's tried this before and gotten good results. Anyone else have reports to share?

Re: Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:27 am
by David Riley
When contacting principals, I would definitely recommend phone calls rather than emails, and certainly rather than formal snail mail, which has a tendency to get buried on the principal's desk. Another idea is to find the name of and contact the activities director, if there is one.

Re: Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:11 pm
by Coldblueberry
Can we write some sort of elevator pitch for pyramidal quizbowl? I don't want my lack of eloquence on a particular day to turn off a coach who may want to attend...

Re: Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:02 pm
by AKKOLADE
"It's like Jeopardy! for teams of four high schoolers, only the questions are slightly longer to reward deeper knowledge. There are questions on a variety of subjects, including literature, history, science, social sciences, the arts, and even a little popular culture."

Something along those lines should work just fine.

Re: Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:02 pm
by Matt Weiner
Fred wrote:"It's like Jeopardy! for teams of four high schoolers, only the questions are slightly longer to reward deeper knowledge. There are questions on a variety of subjects, including literature, history, science, social sciences, the arts, and even a little popular culture."

Something along those lines should work just fine.
I think he may be looking for something that speaks specifically to the benefits of real v. fake quizbowl.

E.g.: "By using pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses, we can write on topics that are important in the high school context and accessible to the lower teams, while still distinguishing in a meaningful way between the top teams. That way everyone can play an enjoyable game on one set of questions, and the winner is the team who knows more about academic things, rather than the people who can press buttons quicker."

Re: Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:39 am
by cchiego
Matt Weiner wrote:E.g.: "By using pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses, we can write on topics that are important in the high school context and accessible to the lower teams, while still distinguishing in a meaningful way between the top teams. That way everyone can play an enjoyable game on one set of questions, and the winner is the team who knows more about academic things, rather than the people who can press buttons quicker."
This. I recall a discussion with some Academic League officials when they said they could never dare ask those terrible pyramidal questions because the one-liners they were asking weren't being answered. I then shared with them the TU conversion data from our novice tournaments and it was significantly higher than that for all the combined taped Academic League matches I saw. Also, you can point out that Academic League features verbatim question repeats.

Few teams seem to really care about the "national championship qualifier" aspect, so focus more on the "better academic experience" thing. Watch out for the minefield of mathcomp though, especially if the sponsor is a math teacher, and have a ready response to that objection too.

Re: Outreach Tactic: Phone Calls

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:43 am
by Matt Weiner
cchiego wrote:Few teams seem to really care about the "national championship qualifier" aspect, so focus more on the "better academic experience" thing. Watch out for the minefield of mathcomp though, especially if the sponsor is a math teacher, and have a ready response to that objection too.
"The vast majority of people in quizbowl who teach math in high school or study it in college agree that computational math tossups are not conducive to math understanding because they reduce to speed contests on elementary school-level arithmetic. When computational math is replaced with conceptual math, math students enjoy the questions more and we can discuss concepts that actually correspond to higher-level math education."