Every year, near the month of May, the Toastmasters clubs elect a new team that will be in charge of running the club for the Toastmasters year to come (July 1 -> June 30).
Taking on these roles is fully part of the Toastmasters learning process for members, the “Toastmaster Promise” being to accept the responsibility if called upon.
Within this team, the VPPR or Vice-President Public Relations is in charge of Public Relations at the club level.
This responsibility is simple to define: It is about making the Toastmasters club known outside the “Toastmasters world”, to arouse curiosity and to encourage people to take the plunge to come and see as guests how a Toastmasters club operates.
Easy to say as often but… how do we do it? Rather often the members to whom this role is assigned feel a little helpless and do not know what to do and even less how to do it. Or at least not in a clear, obvious and limpid way!
In short, they don’t know where to start to tackle the problem.
Of course, from one club to another, the situations vary greatly. Some clubs have not only developed a good knowledge of the subject but have also set up a detailed, comprehensive, educational transmission process to put each new VPPR on the tracks to success.
Are you a Toastmasters club VPPR? Congratulations your club is counting on you. It is a particularly important role during this period of pandemic, and for the period which will open just after.
Where to start? If you don’t know, here’s a first suggestion: type in some research on google.fr:
- Public speaking + the name of your city
- Speaking in a meeting + the name of your city
- How to lead a team + the name of your city
Is your club listed in the first response? If so, congratulations on this incredible success your club is at the top in this regard! Does it appear on the first page? If so, congratulations too: the efforts of your predecessors and yours are paying off! The second ? Further? Not at all ? Then you have there an unexploited potential that you can already consider to work on.
Here are some basics. If you are a seasoned webmaster, SEO expert or digital communication specialist, the following will remind you of your beginnings 🙂
You should know that depending on the origin of a “visitor” on your website, the probability that he stays and is interested in your activity will depend on several factors:
- His concerns. It is a parameter on which you cannot act directly. Someone who clicks on a “fantastic party” link in a Facebook conversation thread expecting to stumble upon a dance party or party event will only be on the club site for a fraction of a second, just long enough to come back to the page from where he came. On the opposite, someone who has searched for “improve speaking skills” on a search engine will stay longer on the site and no doubt fill out the contact form.
- Visual attractiveness. A modern site, which looks great on a phone screen as well as a computer screen, with well-written content, illustrations and videos will more easily retain visitors than a site “less well done” (If your site is made with old HTML tables you really want to do something there and I can help you).
- The richness of the content. A site with interesting information, rich informative content, tips, examples, and alive will also keep more easily users. And will undoubtedly be the best way to have regularly returning visitors.
For a VPPR it is possible to act directly on the content and visual attractiveness. For visual attractiveness, it involves both technical work on the website engine and graphic work too (on the display theme and on “visuals” whether in the form of images or videos). Depending on the case, it may be necessary to surround yourself with a graphic designer or a “webmaster” to know what to do and how to do it well … or even recruit a small team and delegate some of the tasks. For the richness of content, it is necessary to produce content. It may take some time. What I advise on this subject is that each member of the club has an account on the site and is invited to propose draft content. VPPR and close teammates will then be responsible to rework this content (wording, illustrations) with the authors to guarantee a good level of quality.
This work on the content and on the technical aspects is a short to medium term work. If a website can take a real “facelift” in a few weeks or even a few months, the content can take more time to produce, especially if you start from afar.
It is also possible to deal with the “concerns” parameter in an indirect way. Indeed, the activity of a VPPR is not confined to the club’s website: his scope of activity also includes at least relations with the press and television, activity on social networks, advertising campaigns, distribution of brochures and advertising posters. In this area there are few limits to the possible ambitions if it is not the time or the available budget.
Depending on the communication efforts made, towards a social network or another for example, and depending on its nature (tone of messages, nature and types of information shared) the club and its website will be made visible to groups of people with different concerns (search for distractions or fun, search for social interactions, search for information, search for mentors and path for progress …)
From this point of view, the different social networks are not equal: Tiktok, Tumblr, Discord, Instagram, Facebook, Tweeter, Mastodon, Diaspora, Meetup, LinkedIn, specialized networks …
It is also necessary in this quest for efficiency to sort the sources by the “conversion rate”. The conversion rate is the ratio of the number of visits leading to a membership or guest attendance at a meeting and the total number of visits from the said source. A social network bringing a lot of visits (1000 per day for example) but very few memberships (3 per year will give an illusion of effect and might encourage more efforts… while a social network bringing fewer visits (5 per day) but more memberships (10 per year) would actually be much more interesting to invest in.
The next question is then : do you know how to measure the attractiveness of your club website and the conversion rate of the various sources of visitors ?