Publicizing and promoting your club is much like public speaking, in that good public relations skills are not taught but rather are developed through regular practice. Good public relations can be defined as anything that produces a positive response and stimulates the reader or listener to do something, such as visit a club meeting or a club web site to learn more about Toastmasters.
Your Target Audience
In the broadest sense, everyone can benefit from joining Toastmasters, so everyone should theoretically be a target for your club's publicity. However, a good publicity campaign is much more likely to succeed if your audience is well defined. Identifying your club's target audience is critical to developing the message you want to convey, as the message will depend very much on the needs of your audience. Having a well-defined target audience will also make it easier to determine the medium with which you will deliver that message.
Types of Activities
There are several basic activities that your club can conduct to publicize itself. Some of these basic activities include posting flyers in a public location (such as a library or company cafeteria), distributing hand-outs or brochures at an event, and arranging public service announcements in newspapers and on the radio. All of these activities are fairly simple to accomplish.
Other forms of publicity can take a little more effort to accomplish but generally yield much greater results. One such activity is to pitch a story to a local newspaper (which may include writing a press release). The most important step here is to get the name of a contact person in the news organization that you are targeting. Because of the nature of Toastmasters, publications such as newspapers can sometimes be persuaded to carry a "good will" story about your club. On occasion, local radio or television stations may even want to arrange an interview.
Framed in the proper light, almost any club event can become newsworthy. Many are relatively routine and may receive only a brief mention. Others have greater news value and may strike a cord within a particular organization, possibly giving your club more extensive media coverage. Listed here are a few suggestions for events that may be potential news stories:
- Regular meetings/calendar
- Election of officers
- Important visitors or guests
- Club anniversary
- Toastmasters International anniversary month (October)
- Joint meeting with other club(s)
- Demonstration meetings
- Speech contests
- Special programs open to the public
(Speechcraft, Youth Leadership, etc.)
For additional ideas about promoting your club, refer to the "Let the World Know" handbook from Toastmasters International. This publicity and promotion handbook is listed in the Toastmasters International Supply Catalog, which is also available online. (The catalog number for the Club Success Plan is 220.)
Through special awards, the Toastmasters program allows your club to recognize non-Toastmasters for their achievements. Not only does this benefit the community at large by drawing attention to outstanding individuals in the community, but the presentation of these awards offers a terrific opportunity for your club to generate positive publicity.
Communication and Leadership Award
This award represents an opportunity for the club to recognize someone outside the club for his/her contributions to communication excellence. Recipients may include such figures as public officials, company executives, or local news broadcasters. A complete package describing this award and including a plaque and a sample press release is listed in the Toastmasters International Supply Catalog (catalog number 1972).
Honorary Club Membership
Once a year, your club may award an honorary membership to a non-Toastmaster for outstanding contributions to the community or to the club. The presentation of an honorary membership certificate (Supply Catalog number 508-A) can generate goodwill and publicity for your club.