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September 2022 View PDF
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The Master of Promotion

Vice President Public Relations increases a club’s visibility and helps attract visitors.

By Diane Windingland, DTM


“Blue

When Greg Gazin, DTM, served as Vice President Public Relations (VPPR) for New Entrepreneurs Toastmasters in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, he never thought the experience would benefit him in his own professional endeavors to such an extent. Not only did his VPPR experience help him promote his business as a technology columnist (The Gadget Guy), but along with his Toastmasters experience, it also helped him launch a speaking career.

“As VPPR, you gain skills that you can take outside of Toastmasters,” says Gazin, co-host of The Toastmasters Podcast.

Serving as VPPR, he learned how to develop a publicity calendar, create more effective press releases, give better media interviews, tell more compelling news stories, and build branding materials. Additionally, Gazin began to facilitate workshops on promotional strategies for small businesses, which he credits as the catalyst for starting his speaking career.

“Being VPPR helped me build a lot of confidence.”

The VPPR gains skills while executing the following responsibilities.


1Create a public relations (PR) plan.

To get started, first take a look at the Toastmasters public relations page to learn about valuable tools and resources. Then evaluate your club’s previous PR efforts, and, finally, work with your club officer team to set a few goals for how and when you will promote your club.

You may find it helpful to develop a PR calendar, sketching out a plan for the entire year, and then revisiting your plan quarterly to revise and refine details. Your PR calendar may include promoting special meetings, club contests, your club anniversary, social media postings, press releases, and more.

Press releases may be an easy PR opportunity for clubs in smaller communities. Clubs in larger metropolitan areas are much less likely to get stories about their club in media outlets. See the Toastmasters publicity and promotion handbook Let the World Know for specific guidance on press releases.

Your club may want to consider a monthly newsletter, which can appeal to both club members and guests. This is a good way to keep guests engaged. (Ask them if it is okay to subscribe them to the newsletter list.)

As you create your plan, target your PR efforts to the audience you want to attract. Ankur Yadav, DTM, VPPR for the Gurgaon Orators Toastmasters Club of Gurgaon, Haryana, India, suggests using the social media that your target audience uses. “In the Indian subcontinent, we use Instagram as we have many prospective members aged 20 to 30. Word of the Day posts are very popular.”

To successfully execute your plan, use task or calendar reminders. For example, if you want to have your website updated after every meeting to showcase the next meeting, add a recurring task to do so.


PR in Corporate Clubs

If your club is a closed corporate club, your promotional tools will be constrained to the channels allowed by the corporation. Getting management and the human resources department’s help in supporting the club can be critical and should be part of your overall PR plan.

“Corporate clubs need top leaders’ buy-in. If you have that, Toastmasters can be included in new employee packets, corporate websites, etc.,” says James J. Simms, VPPR of Carrollwood Toastmasters in Tampa, Florida.

Getting buy-in can be easier if you use language that connects with corporate culture. “Translate from Toastmasters jargon to corporate-speak, focusing on transferrable skills,” says Pat Johnson, DTM, Past Toastmasters International President, and author of A Handbook for Building and Sustaining Vibrant Toastmasters Programs in Corporations. Johnson gives some examples of translating Toastmasters language to corporate language.


club

→ learning program

dues

→ tuition

club officers

→ leadership opportunities

evaluations

→ feedback

public speaking

→ communication and leadership training

Vice President Public Relations

→ Public Relations Liaison



2Keep public data up to date.

Many prospective members are looking for a Toastmasters club. Will they find your club? And, when they find it, will the meeting and contact information be correct?

At least once a year, check the Toastmasters Find a Club information for your club. In Club Central, you can update the club contact, ­meeting location, and schedule, and add the club website and Facebook pages. In the Club Demographics section, you can indicate whether your club accepts online attendance.

Does your club website have old or inaccurate information? A visitor shouldn’t wonder how to visit or if your club is still meeting. Additionally, photos of smiling members on your home page can make prospective members feel welcomed even before they visit.


3Manage social media channels.

Social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Meetup, and many more) are free or very low-cost ways to get the word out and to engage with your target audience. You don’t have to do all of them at once. It is better to pick one or two channels that resonate with your target audience and to post content consistently.

For most social media, images are more engaging than text. You can post pictures of members having fun or being recognized for accomplishments. Engage prospective visitors by sharing stories of transformation. “If you have 20 to 25 members in your club, you have 20 to 25 stories of transformation that you can share on social media,” says Yadav, of the India club.


4Create materials that safeguard the Toastmasters brand.

As the VPPR, one of your responsibilities is to safeguard the Toastmasters brand, putting forth brand-consistent images to increase engagement and enhance credibility.

Create promotional images for events, including your club meetings, using pre-made Toastmasters promotional material, or using your own creations (see the Toastmasters Brand Portal, where you can find the Brand Manual, Toastmasters logo, social media templates, and more). Canva is a popular graphic design platform for quickly creating eye-catching promotional material.

Branding-related knowledge can help you in other ways as well. “I learned how to build an arsenal of camera-ready branding materials for my business—which in the past were haphazard at best,” says Gazin, the podcast co-host.


5Work with other club officers.

Discuss and coordinate PR efforts as an officer team, especially with the Vice President Membership. Work together on plans for special events, starting a few weeks out with promotion. Provide members with promotional material that they can use to invite guests. Ask members to share social media posts.

Also, look for your successor early in the Toastmasters year, and have them help you with promotional efforts, building their skill and confidence in a few aspects of the role. Consider creating a transition document for your successor and outlining club-specific information, such as how to access the club website and other promotional channels.


6Learn from others.

As you grow in the VPPR role, take the opportunity to learn from other VPPRs.

“Learn from as many others as possible. Create a VPPR network in your Division or District so that you can share ideas,” says Keith Sheldrake, DTM, of EloquenTIA in Rome, Italy.

Good ideas aren’t limited to your District. VPPRs from around the world can offer you ideas. For example, you can network with other VPPRs in Facebook groups such as Toastmasters VPPR and VP-Public Relations (VPPR)-Toastmasters across the World.

Grow your club by letting the world (or at least your target audience) know how they can benefit from your Toastmasters club.


“Hand

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