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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Best 5 ½ Things about Being a Toastmaster Club’s VP of PR

Speech given at Toastmasters at Walsh College Troy on Monday, May 20, 2013

Public relations professionals are the link between the internal organization and everyone else in the world. Did you know that as a Toastmaster in Good Standing, you have the opportunity be in charge of our club’s PR activities? It’s true! Fellow Toastmasters and future Toastmasters, consider today your lucky day, because today will be life changing.

I’m going to introduce you to the 5 and a ½ best things about being our club’s Vice President of Public Relations.

Let’s start at the top. #1 – This Club is the only place where you can become a VP of PR with NO PR background. That’s right! Step right up, ladies and gentleman. No experience required! Nowhere but Toastmasters can you step into a role where your only qualification is interest, train yourself along the way, and build into your resume valuable, highly sought-after PR experience that can never be taken away from you. In any other organization, if you were to apply for this role, your resume would never see the light of day.

A close second is my #2 – training is provided, as much or as little as interests you. You can dive fully into this position and read the leadership manual, attend free bi-annual training sessions with other VPs of PR from other Toastmaster clubs, scour the internet for articles and tips about the PR role in Toastmaster clubs, and network with fellow VP of PRs at other Toastmaster clubs. Or, you can pick and choose any of these that interest you in helping you to become the best club VP of PR of all time!

Which brings me to the #3 best thing about being our club’s VP of PR: Toastmasters provides you templates and suggestions for press releases! A press release is little more than a pitch to the media and general public about something of interest. This might be officer election results, club contest winners, club open house announcements, or many other exciting club achievements. You simply need to change a few details, add a quote from someone at our club, add your contact information, and WHAM – you’ve got yourself a press release. Submit it to your local community paper, Patch sites, and share with your club members and you’ll see how quickly the word can be spread.

Now if you’ve successfully launched a press release, you’ll learn the fourth best thing about being our club’s VP of PR – your name will appear in print! Why wait a lifetime trying to make the Crain’s list of “People to Watch” when here at Toastmasters, the only achievement you need to get into the press is your ability to add your name and contact info as the media contact! Now don’t get me wrong, this is no small feat. After all, by putting your name as the media contact, you have to be prepared that the next phone call might be from the Detroit News or Free Press. Chances are, that won’t happen – but it IS a possibility! And you as our club’s VP of PR will be there to take the call.

In addition to the traditional PR side of this officer role, you’ll also have the opportunity to gain some social media organizational experience, which is the fifth best thing about being the club’s VP of PR. You can start managing the club’s Facebook page today, and in a month or so, you’ll start to learn tips to help promote club meeting participation. By liking other club’s Facebook pages, you’ll learn their techniques, too. Beyond this, you can certainly test out a club LinkedIn group, Twitter account, and more. And if you’re like me, bring your smartphone with you to meetings and snap those action shots as the opportunity presents itself. I’ve found the club announcements of our achievements to make great photo opps!

This brings me to the fifth and final best thing about being our club’s VP of PR, which is really more of half of a tip. Fellow Toastmasters, if you sign up today, you can step into the role of our club’s VP of PR and I will offer to shadow you in this role for the next six months! I’ll share what I’ve learned, offer you suggestions, or stay out of your hair entirely unless you need support! My hope is that this offer makes the role less intimidating and helps to nudge you in the direction of taking on a new leadership role.

Fellow Toastmasters and future Toastmasters, as long as you’re a member whose dues are paid in full, you have the chance to be the club’s next Vice President of Public Relations. This offer is valid while supplies last and I urge you to act now!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled meeting.