• Lesley Gold

Why #RushTok is a masterclass in media training


Sorority members perform on TikTok during annual rush week.
Photo credit: Photos (from left) by @maotao, @erinmbookout and @sidneydepp on TikTok

I spend far too much time on TikTok. It started out the way most of my social media usage does; the desire to spy on (stalk?) my children. I quickly fell down the TikTok rabbit hole. I found myself not doomscrolling but aspire feasting.


Video after video of every day gurus advising me on healthy recipes, fitness routines, college admissions and how to look good over 50. I would be introduced to countless female comedians, new books and emerging trends. #QuietlyQuitting anyone? And I would be reminded of my love of teen TV after being inundated with clip after clip of “Dawson's Creek” and left wondering why Felicity got no love? And then there is the part voyeuristic part of TikTok giving me a window to a world very far from my own: Other people’s kitchens, families, morning routines and most recently, #RushTok.


It started last year when University of Alabama current and potential sorority members opened the floodgates and made #RushTok and #BamaRush go viral on TikTok and main news everywhere else. The 2022 season may have added more colleges to the mix, the Crimson Tide-al wave of rush videos continue to dominate my feed.


Interpretations of Beyonce’s choreography in her banger, “Crazy in Love,” put the local Delta Delta Delta chapter in heavy rotation, while Alpha Gamma Delta, Kappa Delta and Alpha Phi amplified TikTokker Raluca Dumitru’s hit “Sunet Original” and set it on its race up the charts.


As a woman who ascribes to the old axiom from Grucho Marx, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”(OK, The Battery was an exception) and someone who actively sought a college that did not have Greek life, the sheer volume of these videos, and the boundless energy and enthusiasm displayed in them simultaneously horrified and intrigued me.


I found myself doing what most people do these days when they encounter content contrary to their own viewpoints or politics. I looked for, and quickly found, people who reinforced my own beliefs and mercilessly mocked the sorority sisters. I spent a good part of an afternoon bouncing between dancing sorority sisters and the people who hate them. But then I came across a video posted by Emily Limbaugh, a recent graduate and former Alpha Phi recruiter (yes there really is such a position) and the advice she gave PNMs (potential new members, and yes there is real learning that happens on TikTok) sounded oddly familiar.


I had been preparing for a class I teach on communications. The subject for the class this week was media training and offering how to put the tips and tricks into practice. People in tech spend thousands of dollars on media training. But if you listen to the sorority recruiter, you could get a crash course for free in no time.


I’ll list her tips here so you can have a brief media training refresher before I lose you to the #RushTok rabbit hole. In this world of media polarization, we all might learn a little more if we looked for the common ground instead of getting distracted by the commotion.


Top 5 media training tips from #Rushtok

  1. You’re going to sweat your balls off — dress comfortably and wear something you feel good in.

  2. Do your homework. Know what matters to the house (audience).

  3. Have a story ready that you love to tell, can tell over and over and makes you feel good each time you tell it.

  4. You want to be liked. Be nice. Be interested. Listen as much as you talk.

  5. Be authentic. People want to get to know the real you.

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