About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

Rotary Speaker
Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

Free Content for #Rotary and NFP Use
Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Part 5; Tips for Promoting Guest Speakers as Membership Growth Tool

Mountaineer and Speaker Tom Valentine
Written by Robyn T. Braley

This is the last in my series about how to develop impact Rotary Club meetings. In this post, I explain how to bundle programs to make them easy to promote within your club and community. 

Developing a quality speaker program engages and inspires Rotarians. Great programs can also play a significant role in attracting new members and raising the club profile in the community.

Creating Promotable Concepts

There is no one way to do this. You might choose one outstanding speaker to build a promotion campaign around. Another approach is to bundle 3-4 programs representing the variety of topics offered during a typical Rotary year. 

  • Not-for-profit leader
  • Business leader
  • Educational leader
  • Sports leader
  • Healthcare leader
  • Media personality

Calgary Flames President Ken King
Look for a hook. For example, is there an emerging issue in your community? Booking an expert to provide background information may interest a broad spectrum of professionals.

I recommend staying away from hot button or advocacy speakers as part of a Signature Series. The topic may not provide the positive customer experience you are looking for. 

One of those “Duh” Moments

The Calgary West Rotary Club decided to try an experiment. As a long time member of the Calgary West Speaker’s Committee, I looked at our coming line up and had one of those “aha” moments of inspiration that causes my spouse to roll her eyes!

Why don’t we package the upcoming meetings as a series and promote them?

 Duh! First and foremost, cochair Bill Tapuska thought the concept was worth pursuing. Our President, Tony Knight, was enthusiastic and said those magical words,

Past President Tony Knight and fellow
Rotarian and wife Arien

“Why not? Let’s try it.”

We called it the ‘Signature Series’ for no reason other than the name paralleled a major service project our club was developing called, the ‘Signature Project.’

I must be clear. We didn’t proactively book speakers for this series. We just packaged scheduled meetings. The key is selecting programs with promotional value.

Writer, author, speaker, media personality
and founder of Beakerhead Jay Ingram

Strong Lineup

Start with a topic formula. I’ve included the names of featured speakers to provide an idea of what a Signature Series looks like. Use the lineup as a loose guide to identify a variety of speakers in your community.

  • Jay Ingram – Canadian broadcaster, author, speaker about all things science.
  • Ken King – President of NHL Calgary Flames Hockey Club
  • Home of Hope – Presentation by club team just back from building homes for the poor in Mexico
  • Geg Peterson – Radio analyst for Calgary Stampeder football games talking about sophisticated technology used by coaches to analyze CFL and NFL games.
  • Linda Anderson – divorce lawyer with things you should know when your marriage crumbles.
  • 1835 Recovery Acres – Highly successful drug and alcohol addictions treatment.
The second time we tried the concept we booked 3 entertaining and inspirational programs. All three were authors and media personalities.

Speaker, author and
coach Patricia Morgan
Our country was in the midst of an economic downturn. We encouraged members to reach out to guests who had been laid off or owned a business that was facing challenging times.

Produce It

Our team developed a lose production strategy. We were careful to accommodate each speaker’s delivery style when setting up the room. Most like to roam during their speech. Others, although very few, use a podium.

Multi-media support was available. Speakers were offered a choice of hand-held wireless mics, lavolier or cheek mics.

Finally, we planned each meeting to make them as content rich as possible. Our hot seat announcement format included Rotarians giving brief updated information about current projects.

Periodically we “planted” reports that weren’t necessarily timely but helped flesh out the scope of club service. The format always impresses visitors due to the scope of our activities and the enthusiasm of Rotarians involved.

Some elements like the traditional Sergeant of Arms, or Sherriff, were cancelled as their humour is are often based on insider information that you must know to get the ‘joke.’ That can be confusing to visitors and new members making them feel like outsiders.

Telling the Rotary Story

Each meeting included a 2 minute “pitch” about Rotary and what it is. We chose Rotarians who had recently experienced a life changing moment while serving on projects in Mexico or Africa. Our club brochure was made available on meal tables for those wanting more information.

We completed the information sharing by producing a marketing focused powerpoint that showed club members in action doing projects in Africa, Mexico, Guatemala and our city of Calgary. Slides of well known past and future speakers were included to demonstrate the depth and quality or our programs.

Last but not least, we worked with the team at our our meeting venue to organize an easy way to call ahead to register guests ahead of each meeting. It is one thing to provide extra meals for 5 or 6 guests who show up unexpectedly doing makeups or visiting from out of town. It is quite another to provide meals for 14-15 unexpected guests.

The outcome? We had anywhere from 10 – 20 guests depending on the speaker. One co-presentation of a business innovation awards foundation brought 44 guests. 

Open to the Public

There was one final key element which some Rotarians might find problematic. We opened the meetings up to the public. To manage this, we used EventBrite making preregistration and prepayment easy.

Signature Promotion Tips

  • Challenged members to think marketing. Who did they know who would be interested in each different topic?
  • Produced a simple flyer with speaker information as a promotional aide. Distributed hard copies at meetings and circulated PDF to members for personal email marketing.
  • Produced a visitor friendly informational powerpoint show
  • Sent news releases to mainstream media
  • Submitted information to free online business enewsletters
  • Promoted each meeting on various social media platforms
  • Profiled the series on the club website.
  • Featured a 2 minute information overview in each meeting
  • Displayed the Signature Series flyer and club brochure on the counter of the hotel where we meet.
  • Made club brochure readily accessible for visitors at the meetings

Robyn Braley is a marketing specialist, keynote speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. Robyn has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. 


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