There's already great advice in the publicity section of the knowledgebase about making the most of the local online events listings by Googling your hometown and 'what's on' or events. And a club website is a great asset. This looks at more recent online publicity opportunities.
Let's Hear it for Blogs!
Blogs are another great online publicity tool. Because they are Google-friendly, information posted in a blog appears in Google searches much faster than copy posted on a traditional website. There are so many really good free blogging tools out there, and they are much easier to update than most websites. If clubs are struggling to find webmasters, they may find it easier to put up a blog and update it? Google's Blogger is very easy and adaptable. You can embed links to the D71.org site, put up photos, plus the TMI logo.
What About Social Media?
I put up a current activity comment about looking forward to going to a Toastmasters meeting that evening in my Linked-In profile. Within minutes I had an enquiry from someone in my extended network about coming along.
You can do the same on Facebook pages and encourage other members to drop TM mentions.
Don't forget your MySpace and Twitter pages!
There are lots of people that have been meaning to get along to Toastmasters for ages. We hear it all the time when new members come along to the clubs in Edinburgh. They often just need an extra reminder about TM and the knowledge that they will have a contact at the meeting to relate to.
A famous piece of research by a US newspaper about people's greatest fears found their readers were most afraid of walking into a roomful of strangers. Then came public speaking. Then death! And that's the apparently socially confident Americans! Imagine how terrified us Brits are when confronted with the top two fears in one go: coming along to Toastmasters for the first time. It's so awful for many of us (myself included) that most of us have probably blocked out what it was like and certainly don't want to re-visit it! Social media allows each one of us to reach out a friendly hand to help people step up to the TM lectern.
Any forum where personal development is being discussed is fair game for a mention of how good Toastmasters is for boosting confidence, presentation and leadership skills at an appropriate point in a discussion thread. The UK Business Forum or E-academy would be good platforms. There are lots more.
And the most business-orientated of the social media sites: Linked-In has lots of groups, including several devoted to Toastmasters. Joining groups is a key way to expand your contacts on Linked-In and most groups have a forum where you can leave comments, or start a new discussion thread.
Online Press Releases
If you are launching an open evening or another event that would be of interest to the community, why not investigate the online press release outlets in your area? Maybe the local paper has a news submissions form, or an email address for editorial submissions? What about the local radio station (you should be prepared to have someone demonstrate good speaking on air by being interviewed!).
Some online press release submission sites contain huge amounts of content, so they are very highly ranked by Google. If you submit your release to these sites, they will point back to your club website if you include your club site’s URL. A high ranking site pointing to your site boosts your own site’s ranking on Google, which in turn puts your site higher up the search result. However, don’t get carried away by the opportunities. There are a lot of poor quality online release sites out there. At the top end, many now charge a fee for taking a release, but there are still some good free sites that are moderated. I would only submit a release to sites that moderate their content, otherwise your release will sit alongside the dregs of the internet, which can be pretty vile. Suggest also using a disposable hotmail email account as the contact point as any email address that appears online quickly attracts spam emails.
Dealing with a Higher Profile
Having a higher profile means you may attract media attention. The media are understaffed and over-worked, and under enormous time pressure, so everything is needed very fast. Ignore a request and they are unlikely to come back – ever. But the converse is also true: helpful people go into their contacts file.
Every media request for information you handle is the equivalent of speaking to potentially several thousands of people, because your message can reach their readers, viewers or listeners. Often all they ask for is a quick phone call. Bend over backwards to help, even if it doesn’t directly result in publicity every time (a later story may turn up that is much more news-worthy, so priorities change every hour, and sometimes every minute) and they will return.
There’s a lot more great advice in the free down-loadable press kit on the home page of this website.
(The author has 30 years PR and journalism experience and is the author of a best-selling book on DIY PR). She is a Competent Communicator and a member of both Capital Communicators and Waverley Communicators TMI clubs in Edinburgh).