Toastmasters International offers tons of leadership opportunities. After having spent 6 months as a member, I volunteered one year ago to become vice-president public relations of the Stuttgart International Toastmasters Club.
I was mainly elected for my technical abilities to reshape our Internet website, so I created a brand new website for our club and took any opportunity to advertise for our club. I started Xing, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, in order not only to promote Toastmasters in Stuttgart but also to create an esprit de corps around the club. Finally, since one of our members could record speeches with his camera, I also created a Dailymotion user for our club, in order to upload the videos. This gives the visitors a better idea of what they can expect to see and learn by attending our meetings.
In order to keep as much attention from the members and visitors as possible, I have created a blog on which I have put all new information that was related to our club. As a good salesperson, I know how customer cherish references and have made two interviews of members in order to show a testimony of success of the program. In the end, our members are our customers…
It is interesting to note that the number of visits increased every time I have sent a newsletter to all members and registered persons. This newsletter, published about every two month, was a summary of the blog and gave direct links to the website. Hence my advice if you start being involved in PR activities: don’t assume that people will check by themselves the information you give, you have to be more pushy than that.
Finally, one of my goals was to create awareness about the club in the local press to reach as many people as possible. I have sent literally dozens and dozens of emails to reach journals from the Stuttgart area and got very, very, very few answers. My experience is that if you want some press coverage, you have to persevere a lot. Most journals didn’t even bother responding an email to confirm they had received my request for an article.
After lots of efforts however, some journalists eventually came to write an article in their respective newspapers. However, the content of some of them was disappointing… if not partially invented ! The only thing I wanted to do was still to… thank the journalists! Because, honestly, if the article does not exactly look like what you imagined but makes your club look good, then it was worth the effort, and Toastmasters is such a great organization that it is difficult to write really critical things about our meetings.
I was pretty satisfied with the results of all these efforts : our club has gained 16 new members and the total number of members reached the good number of 40 (same as last year).
From a personal perspective, doing all these things helped me being seen as a credible officer and becoming the president of the Stuttgart International Toastmasters Club for the year 2010-2011. I am looking forward to leading the officers’ team of the club and, again, to taking all leadership opportunities offered by Toastmasters.